Ultimate Spider-Man is always an enjoyable read. Bendis has been working pure magic on this title ever since the first issue. Ultimate Spider-Man #108 appears to focus on the Ultimate version of Ronin. Wow, Bendis is just completely in love with that character. Too bad I’m not. Maybe Bendis has a cooler concept for Ronin in the Ultimate Universe. Let’s go ahead and hit this review.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Mark Bagley
Inker: Drew Hennessy
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with, the Kingpin standing in front of his wife’s bed. She is asleep and hooked up to IV tubes. Mr. Rose walks in to inform Kingpin that he has a visitor. Kingpin reminds Rose to never discuss business in front of his wife. The she is an ill woman and does not need to fill her head with their ugliness.
We shift to two men having a discussion with a young girl. The two men tell the young girl that Moon Knight is going to go undercover in order to take the Kingpin down permanently. The young girl says that Moon Knight creating a new persona to carry out this plan is a bad idea. That Moon Knight suffers from a multiple personality disorder. That it is so bad that none of them actually exist that they are all part of Marc. Marc Spector, Steven Grant, Moon Knight and the little girl. They are all the same person.
The little girl says that with Moon Knight’s history of a fragmented psychosis it is not a good idea to create another person and on top of it another person who is a killer. A hitman. And what happens if this killer becomes the dominant personality?
One of the two men then says that the girl should be talking like this. That he can hear her. She says that of course he can hear them he is them. Then the other man says that all that matters is taking down the Kingpin.
We then cut to Kingpin meeting with Moon Knight in disguise. Kingpin asks what his name is. Moon Knight responds that his name is Ronin. Kingpin asks Ronin to prove himself. Ronin suddenly and brutally takes down all of Kingpin’s dogs. Kingpin comments that that was not what he had in mind. Kingpin tells Ronin to prove himself by bringing Kingpin Spider-Man broken and beaten.
We cut to Mary Jane doing a news report for the Midtown High School News Channel Project. Mary Jane comments how the national media keeps reporting how Spider-Man is a student at their school.
Mary Jane interviews the principal, who states that he supports Spider-Man and would be proud if he was a student at the school. The principal mentions that Spider-Man once saved his mother from out-of-control bus. The principal then says that if Spider-Man is watching this video and does go to their school that he should keep doing what he’s doing because the world desperately needs good people. The principal then asks Spider-Man to keep his battles off school ground in order to prevent any students from getting hurt.
We then cut to the teacher reviewing Mary Jane’s video. He loves the video and tells Mary Jane welcome to the Student News Network. We cut to Mary Jane giving the good news to Peter. As Peter and Mary Jane are talking Kitty Pryde walks by. Peter tries to talk to Kitty but Kitty just turns around and walks away. Both Peter and Mary Jane feel bad.
We see Marc Spector stealing a school bus. Marc then puts on his Ronin costume and then drives the school bus through the main entrance of the High School. Ronan jumps out a school bus and starts firing off a gun demanding to this speak with Spider-Man.
We cut to inside of Marc’s mind. The two men and the little girl are begging Moon Knight to stop what he’s doing. Kitty then arrives on the scene and comments that she has needed someone to hit for about a week and that Ronin will do. Ronin and Kitty start fighting and Ronin quickly takes down Kitty.
We cut back in to Marc’s mind with the little girl telling Moon Knight that Ronin is taking over and that he has to do something. We then see Ronin appear inside of Marc’s mind. Inside of Marc’s mind Moon Knight and Ronin start fighting.
We then cut to Spider-Man arriving on the scene. Spider-Man and Ronin start brawling. We see Ronin defeating Moon Knight in their battle inside of Marc’s mind. We then see Ronin defeat Spider-Man in the High School. Ronin then grabs Spider-Man’s body and leaves the high school. Mary Jane videotapes Ronin leaving with Spider-Man’s unconscious body.
We see Ronin arriving at Kingpin’s office holding an unconscious Spider-Man in his hand. Kingpin smiles. End of issue.
The Good: Bendis does it again as he delivers yet another fun read in Ultimate Spider-Man #108. This issue was a moved along at a nice pace. Bendis manages to give us some good action mixed into his typical dialogue heavy scenes. This issue had a nice flow and was certainly entertaining.
I like Bendis’s dialogue. I know that some people can’t stomach Bendis’s overly snappy and witty style of dialogue that he employs. I think it works just fine on a title like Ultimate Spider-Man. Spider-Man is a character that always has been known for his snappy dialogue and Bendis knows how to write a great Spider-Man/Peter Parker.
It was pretty cool to see the Ultimate Universe version of Vanessa Fisk. I believe this may be the first time we have seen her. At least, I don’t remember seeing her in any previous issues. Vanessa’s character has always been important because it enables the reader to see a different side to a character in the Kingpin who is usually portrayed as evil down to his very core. No character is 100% evil. Not even the Kingpin. Vanessa makes Kingpin a more complex and interesting character.
I like that Bendis is using Kitty Pryde to keep the tension thick at Peter’s high school. With Mary Jane and Peter back together there is a need to create drama in order to keep the reader from getting bored with this couple. And that is Kitty’s role. Kitty stirs up enough guilt in both Peter and Mary Jane that it may eventually have an impact on Peter and MJ’s relationship.
Plus, Kitty represents a constant temptation for Peter. Will MJ truly believe that Peter has absolutely no feelings at all left for Kitty? Nothing beats a good old fashioned love triangle for providing easy and cheap drama.
The best part of this issue was Bendis’s handling of Moon Knight and Ronin’s characters. Moon Knight took center stage in Ultimate Spider-Man #108 and Bendis spent some quality time fleshing out Ultimate Moon Knight’s character.
I love how Bendis really plays up Moon Knight’s advanced multiple personality disorder. Huston may give us an emotionally disturbed and unbalanced Moon Knight in the 616 Universe, but he isn’t a downright fractured person suffering from multiple distinct and separate personalities like the Ultimate Universe version.
Having the various personalities arguing inside Moon Knight’s head was a neat literary trick to show the reader the mental illness that has completely fractured Moon Knight’s mind. And this leads me to the obvious question which is who in the hell is that little red haired girl?!
We know one of the men is Marc Spector. He must be the more aggressive of the two men. The other man is Steven Grant. Then you have Moon Knight’s persona which appears to be the dominant persona. And then you have the little red haired girl constituting the final personality of Moon Knight. What a great twist by Bendis!! I cannot wait to learn more about this little girl persona that is inside of Moon Knight’s head.
The 616 version of Moon Knight deals with Moon Knight, Steven Grant, Marc Spector and Jake Lockley being the four personalities crammed into one mind. Bendis swaps out the Jake Lockley persona and replaces it with the little red haired girl. And in doing so, Bendis manages to make the Ultimate version of Moon Knight even more different than his 616 counterpart. And that is vitally important.
I hate it when we get an Ultimate Universe version of a 616 character that is practically the same. That is what we get with the ultimate version of Wolverine. I’m glad that Bendis is taking the time and effort to try and give the Ultimate versions of the various characters he handles a different twist from their 616 versions.
Now, I actually like how Bendis handles the Ronin personality in this issue. I haven’t been impressed with the Ronin gimmick over in the 616 universe. The concept of a costume and gimmick that is recycled over and over with various different characters just doesn’t work with me.
Ronin is a pet character of Bendis and he is determined to shove it down the reader’s throat over in the 616 universe. And when I saw that Ronin would be appearing in the Ultimate Universe I was less than pleased. It was as if Bendis was going to make sure we loved his concept as much as he apparently does.
But, this Ultimate version of Ronin is pretty cool. I dig that Ronin is yet another persona that has been added to the others that populate Moon Knight’s multiple personality disorder. And the best part is that this persona is a villainous hitman. I dig that this Ronin persona is a threat to all of the other personas inside Moon Knight’s mind.
Bendis crafts an excellent final scene in Ultimate Spider-Man #108. I loved how Bendis slices the fight scene between Ronin and Spider-Man in the high school with the battle between the Ronin persona and the Moon Knight persona fighting inside of Moon Knight’s mind.
And what a wild ending to both fights! Ronin defeats Spider-Man and serves him up to the Kingpin on a silver platter. And the Ronin persona defeats the Moon Knight persona thereby making Ronin, the villainous killer, the dominant persona inside of Moon Knight’s mind. That is a fantastic hook ending.
I cannot wait to see how Spider-Man manages to get himself out of his sticky situation. And I also cannot wait to see how the other personas in Moon Knight’s mind deal with the now dominant persona of Ronin. Next issue should certainly be pretty exciting.
The Bad: I found the interview of the principal talking about Spider-Man not bringing any fights to the high school so no innocent students will get injured to be way to obvious of a set up. We get this heavy handed plea to Spider-Man and then a couple of pages later we get the attack on the school and the battle between Spider-Man and Ronin on school grounds.
Bendis was too heavy handed with this painfully obvious set up. It would have been better if Bendis had made the principal make this statement and then let it sit in the back of the minds of the readers before trotting out the inevitable battle between Spider-Man and a villain on school grounds.
Overall: Ultimate Spider-Man #108 was another great read. Bendis continues to kick ass on this title. It is just incredible how consistently good Bendis has been on Ultimate Spider-Man. The last writer to have a long run on one title that was consistently good was Chris Claremont on Uncanny X-Men from 1977-1991. Bendis is in the process of making comic book history with his work on Ultimate Spider-Man. I will be interested to see how close Bendis can come to Claremont’s sixteen year long run.
I definitely recommend giving Ultimate Spider-Man #108. It is almost always a good read and has a great blend of drama, humor and action.