Ultimate Spider-Man Volume 2: Learning Curve
It was one of those $1 specials at the convention last August, and given my desperate need for a shipment of books, I have been reduced to reading it.
But I've got a surprise for you: it wasn't terrible.
Don't get me wrong. Spider-Man still sucks, but this rendition of him, carefully crafted by Bendis in the Ultimate Universe, was well done. The story didn't bring me anything special, but I did find the characterization of Aunt May much more engaging than the one to which I am accustomed. Her implied lecturing of J. Johan Jameson was good for a heartfelt laugh, and the situation at the end of the book in which she makes Peter squirm while she asks him if he knows about the birds and the bees was classic.
The way Bendis writes her, I could read a whole book about the wily elder, and her interactions with the people of the Marvel U.
The story had a couple of other points I thought were smart.
The first? Peter tells MJ he's Spider-Man. Smart move. I've always found it completely idiotic that heroes lie to people they love. Sometimes, maybe. But not every one of them all the time. So this change in approach worked for me. And her reaction suits a teenager who just found out the boy she's crushing on is a super-hero.
The second? Bendis underscores the point that Peter has fallen into a dangerous trap when he's in costume. He's relying on his new powers and acting like a moron. Peter realizes this and finishes the book using his prodigious brain much more effectively. It's a lesson that most heroes could use, but which is especially important for people like Tony Stark, Peter Parker and Barry Allen (all are incredibly smart) who have been written for too long without regard for that primary asset of their character.
The story itself is fine. Nothing special. It still doesn't explain why a Spider would be blue and red, but it does do a good job of entertaining with the inter-personal dynamics of the characters.
Overall? I won't actively seek out Volume 3, but I did find myself entertained.