Is there something wrong with the world? It sure seems that way as according to TV news reports faithfully presented by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley, Spider-Man is now more popular than Captain America. How can this be? In one sense Peter Parker’s life is going well. He survived the events of Clone Saga, and he’s hooked back up with Mary Jane. On the other hand, Aunt May is in hospital, and there are a couple of awkward conversations in his future. Bendis turns the screw beautifully with regard to one of those.

As seen on the cover, this is where Spider-Man teams up with a bunch of other costumed heroes, most of whom he met previously in Warriors when they were individually trying to take down the Kingpin. Daredevil’s collected them together on the basis that they’re more likely to succeed by acting together, but Daredevil’s idea is that they kill the Kingpin if that’s what it takes. It’s an example of the Ultimate versions of the characters not entirely being the heroes we know, and Bendis supplies another shortly after. As already seen, the most extreme departure is Moon Knight, and he continues to confound.

For all the costumes, we’re back in the crime story territory in which Bendis cut his comic writing teeth, featuring the untouchable crimelord, betrayals, the creation of a monster and a great interrogation scene. Bendis also drops in something for readers that the heroes don’t know, something that cranks up the tension further in what becomes a masterclass in manipulation, the Kingpin managing that in-story, and Bendis pushing all the right buttons with the plot.

It’s the usual fine art job from Mark Bagley, with no inking glitches hindering what’s his final Ultimate Spider-Man outing. Eighteen consecutive volumes without a chapter missed is one hell of a collaborative run, and unlikely ever to be bettered at Marvel. The future appears in the final chapter when Stuart Immonen contributes a cathartic action sequence separating two portions of an awkward, chest-clearing conversation. Immonen’s excellence sees this series out over the final four volumes.

The crime plot comes to a neat finish, after which we have a much needed conversation with Aunt May, delicately and sympathetically handled rather than dropping into melodrama. It works better as part of a collection than an individual comic, where there could be complaints about the mixture between action and out of costume drama tipping too far toward the latter. Next up is Death of a Goblin.