Ultimatum: Spider-Man Requiem 2 (September 2009)

Eh. Dang it, Bendis. He structures the whole thing around Jonah’s obituary for Spider-Man, flashing back to Spidey’s first meeting with the Hulk. Oddly enough, back when Peter ran into the Hulk at the end of the original series, he didn’t seem like he remembered this incident. Bendis rips off the school bus scene from Superman pretty well. It’s not the problem. The problem is when Jonah’s article becomes the cake instead of the icing. The art is then a bunch of pin-ups, mostly by Bagley, which seems inappropriate given how much work Immonen’s done. Scott Hanna’s inks seem a little off…

Ultimatum: Spider-Man Requiem 1 (August 2009)

And there Bendis goes again. He does a phenomenal issue, the kind making the bad stuff worth it. Well, some of the bad stuff. A lot of the bad stuff should just be skipped. Jonah, Robbie and Ben Urich head back to the Bugle in devastated Manhattan and Jonah tries to figure out how to write his Spider-Man story. Very human art from Immonen; he toggles between disaster and character drama perfectly. It’s a shame Bendis never grew up and wrote a Bugle book. Jonah reads about a time Spidey helped out Iron Man. Mark Bagley comes back for that retro story,…

Ultimate Spider-Man 111 (September 2007)

I think this issue has to be one of Bendis’s greatest successes with the series so far. It’s Peter and Aunt May talking about him being Spider-Man–is Bendis the first writer to ever do this scene?–and it’s absolutely perfect. He opens–with Mark Bagley pencilling his final issue–and goes through Peter and May talking about the origin and all the villains. Hennessy’s inks and Justin Ponsor’s colors make the whole thing seem very Americana. Ultimate Spider-Man as Norman Rockwell. Then, when Stuart Immonen takes over for Peter telling May about his adventure of the day, Bendis has May asking all these questions about…

Ultimate Spider-Man 110 (August 2007)

I’m kind of hoping Bendis realizes he can’t keep bringing Kingpin back. This issue “resolves” Ultimate Kingpin, but also features Spider-Man threatening to tattle on Kingpin to Nick Fury. It raises a big question. Why the heck hasn’t he done so already? If it’s such a big threat, why’s Peter protecting Wilson Fisk from Nick Fury’s wrath? Possibly because Bendis can’t write that story… it’s too much of an empty threat. It’s not a bad issue though. There’s a big fight scene with Iron Fist and the other Ultimate Knights, then there’s Daredevil threatening to kill Kingpin’s wife (which would have been…

Ultimate Spider-Man 109 (July 2007)

It’s a little better than I expected. Bendis does the “grownup” thing again with Daredevil; only he and Dr. Strange kind of bumble through the issue. Strange is particularly unimpressive. Bendis ideas for Ultimate versions are too often to make the characters callous and occasionally dimwitted. The Kingpin versus Peter stuff isn’t terrible. It’s just more appropriate for a crime comic. Is he going to turn Ultimate Spider-Man into a gritty crime comic? Probably not… definitely not with Bagley, but he winks at it. What else happens… Moon Knight gets busted and disappears. At least Bendis didn’t waste half the issue with…

Ultimate Spider-Man 108 (July 2007)

And here’s a Bendis misstep. Most of the issue’s spent in Moon Knight’s head–there’s nothing about Iron Fist selling out, because Bendis has found a way to make Moon Knight bad. Ultimate Ronin is a new personality of Ultimate Moon Knight–a bad guy. He beats up Kitty, he kidnaps Peter. Problems abound. First, Mary Jane is now the seventies–as in, television–Lois Lane. She does a story about Flash (set two weeks after his attack) when Bendis already jumped further ahead than two weeks for the TV movie joke. Maybe continuity reset a little after issue one hundred. There’s a lot of avoiding.…

Ultimate Spider-Man 107 (May 2007)

Wow, Ultimate Iron Fist isn’t going to get his own series if he’s buddying up to Kingpin. Jeez. Bendis splits the issue, mostly, between Peter and Kitty having a breakup conversation–actually, a post-breakup conversation–and Spider-Man talking Daredevil down from the idea of killing Kingpin. Maybe for the first time ever, Ultimate Daredevil works as a character. Because it’s interesting to see him brought down, intellectually, by Peter. The scene with Kitty is good too. Bendis’s reasoning for her being at Midtown is idiotically contrived, but even he seems to know it. And having Ultimate Jessica Jones show up is kind of funny.…

Ultimate Spider-Man 106 (May 2007)

Lots happens this issue. I guess crossing the hundred issue mark, Bendis has decided he needs lots of guest stars. Hulk for a panel, Daredevil, the Fantastic Four… Peter’s entering into the much bigger Ultimate Universe. Only about a ninety-eight issues later than the original did into the Marvel Universe. Anyway. It’s an okay issue. Bendis is very comfortable having Mary Jane back and without an agenda. He seems to have but Kitty Pryde into that awkward role–I can’t wait for the contrived reason she’s going to Midtown High. And Matt Murdock showing up at the school a few minutes earlier is…

Ultimate Spider-Man 105 (April 2007)

And there we have it. A somewhat new ground situation–Aunt May knows Peter’s Spider-Man, he’s living with Mary Jane, Kitty Pryde is mad–not much else though. There’s nothing on Doc Ock, there’s nothing on the U.S. government hiring bad guys to genetically engineer clones and kill teenagers, there’s nothing on… something else, I’m sure. I sort of forgot. Oh, Nick Fury’s a big sweetheart it turns out. He’s not tough enough to use Captain America and Iron Man on the bad FBI guys, only threaten the Fantastic Four with them. But he’s a pushover and a stooge now. The Jessica Drew thing…

Ultimate Spider-Man 104 (March 2007)

Good thing the X-Men don’t have a fast jet because they might get there in time to see Peter and Mary Jane get their romance back on. I really hope Bendis comes up with some better result to this lame arc than them reuniting. There’s still Aunt May, there’s still an evil U.S. government out to get Nick Fury, there’s still Richard Parker. Wait, no, there isn’t. Because Bendis wraps that one up nice and clean. Had he made it dirty and told the issue around it, he would have had a great comic. A singular one. Had he been willing to…

Ultimate Spider-Man 103 (February 2007)

Yep, Bendis turns out rather predictable. Especially with Richard Parker. The stuff with the X-Men is lame too, especially since they have a teleporting guy and a really fast plane. Instead, Bendis just does it to show he’s not entirely contriving this story, which is a complete cop out. Speaking of cop outs, he also turns Nick Fury into an absolute stooge. As in Larry, Moe or Curly. In the span of a few issues, he’s turned Aunt May into a heinous bitch and Nick Fury into a buffoon. I get a lot of what he’s trying to do and why–one can…

Ultimate Spider-Man 102 (January 2007)

Very confused as to what Bendis is doing with this arc. The big reveal has to be the Spider-Woman isn’t a Mary Jane clone but a Peter Parker clone made female. There’s also this implication Richard Parker is just an illusion or a clone too. I suppose Bendis is keeping that revelation for this arc’s finale, to reunite Peter and Aunt May. There’s another big problem–at the beginning when the Fantastic Four faces off against Fury, they seem a little alone. One would imagine someone else would speak up against Fury executing a teenager, some other superhero (where’s Dr. Strange when they…

Ultimate Spider-Man 101 (December 2006)

Thank goodness Hennessy takes over as the only inker. He does a good job with it. Not sure what was going on when he was splitting the duties with Dell. There’s a lot of implications this issue. The Fantastic Four comes in to save Peter from Fury, who’s been planning on killing him (and his clones) for a while now. Thus, one can guess Fury’s known about the clones for a while. It’s unclear what’s going on with Mary Jane, Richard Parker and Gwen Stacy. But Carnage apparently infected Gwen or vice versa. Not much of it matters because Bendis is able…

Ultimate Spider-Man 100 (November 2006)

Eh. So Gwen Stacy is Carnage. Yippee. And Aunt May is pretty nasty. Bendis doesn’t redeem her much, even if she has been through a lot apparently. She hasn’t been lying to Peter his whole life, just the last few years. It’s an interesting thing, making Aunt May unlikable. Has anyone else tried that gimmick before? Bendis gives her a heart attack at the end though, so she’ll eventually be forgiven. And Peter Parker’s dad is an awful character. Not a bad guy, but a simpleton. Not at all believable as a genius. Bendis tries to insert this genetic engineering cold war…

Ultimate Spider-Man 99 (October 2006)

I’m not sure Bendis actually does good writing this issue but he sure does go out on a high point. He establishes Aunt May as a super villain. She’s been lying to Peter his whole life. She’s a bad guy. Wow. Bendis will never stick with it. It’s too much. There’s some good stuff with Peter and the Gwen clone. The stuff with Aunt May kind of ruins it, since Bendis has this big confession scene from Peter and there’s absolutely no payoff for it. It’s sort of a catch–22. If he backs out of these revelations, he’s being cheap. If he…

Ultimate Spider-Man 98 (October 2006)

Bendis should have done more with the Fantastic Four this issue. They’re really funny. The stuff with Peter calling himself “baby” in his internal monologue? Makes me hope he’s a clone not the regular character but I think it’s more just Bendis laziness. There’s another big fight scene this issue; Peter fights some black costumed redhead with spider powers who doesn’t identify herself. It’s a bad fight scene. Then Gwen comes back and she’s confused. Then there’s another Peter clone, apparently. Maybe it’s Eddie Brock. Not sure how much I care, as it’s clear Bendis doesn’t care. I’m trying to think of…

Ultimate Spider-Man 97 (September 2006)

Okay, great, John Dell has help from John Sibal and together they don’t ink Bagley well. I couldn’t even tell the guy in the Scorpion outfit was a Peter Parker clone. He just looked way too bland. Otherwise, the issue’s okay. Bendis is doing his rushing thing to get rid of Kitty Pryde, just like he rushed breaking up Mary Jane and Peter. Contriving stuff for the villains is fine, but now he’s contriving the regular cast’s arcs and it’s getting painful at times. For instance, why is Mary Jane so buddy buddy with Peter all of a sudden. Bendis even accelerates…

Ultimate Spider-Man 96 (August 2006)

First off my apologizes to Jimmy Palmiotti… his inks weren’t screwing up Bagley’s pencils last issue. This issue makes it clear John Dell–who is solo, so no confusion–really shouldn’t be inking Bagley or Ultimate Spider-Man. He ruins the tone at times. The issue concludes the Morbius adventure, but it’s pretty slight. Ben Urich is in danger of becoming a vampire, Peter tries to save him, running into good guy vampire Morbius. Lots of fight scenes, lots of vampire nonsense. Bendis can’t sell the vampire nonsense and he tries really hard. It becomes desperate at some point. And Bagley–regardless of an inker–does a…

Ultimate Spider-Man 95 (July 2006)

I’m sure Bendis and Jimmy Palmiotti are buddies but come on… no one could think Palmiotti is a good inker for Bagley. I thought Dell was weak, but Palmiotti is something else. You have these pleasant Bagley high school panels and Palmiotti makes them dreary. And the hands… don’t get me started on the hands. Otherwise, it’s a pretty darn good issue. Peter has a friend fight with Mary Jane, he talks to Kitty on the phone (with Storm offering hilarious audio commentary) and works at the Bugle. Bendis writes the Bugle stuff rather well, it’s too bad he doesn’t use it…

Ultimate Spider-Man 94 (July 2006)

So the whole story with the island and the X-Men and Ultimate Deadpool is just to set up a payoff of Aunt May having a boyfriend and spending the night with him? This issue’s got some good moments. Bendis doesn’t use the TV narrative device too much (of course, when he does, it’s awful). He even writes a really good action sequence for Kitty when she needs to kick some butt. But, who cares? Four issues and two things get established. Peter and Kitty aren’t breaking up, which she worried about in the first issue, and Aunt May has a gentleman friend.…

Ultimate Spider-Man 93 (June 2006)

You know what isn’t a television show–specifically a reality television show? A comic book. Someone should have told Bendis because then I would have been saved this useless comic. Deadpool and some bad guys are hunting the X-Men (and Peter) on this island and it’s all for TV. So Bendis is cutting between the host, the bad guys, the hidden cameras, with Bagley doing all double page layouts with little TV-sized boxes. It’s probably the most writing, in terms of dialogue, Bendis has done in years on this comic. But it’s mostly crappy, because his approach is crappy. He can’t emulate the…

Ultimate Spider-Man 92 (May 2006)

Did Ditko start the thing where Spidey squints and his eyes change size? They overdo it today (and have since the late eighties) but there’s a little of it here and it works. He works rather well as a guest star. Bendis has a lot of fun writing Peter play off other superheroes. And by guest star, I mean Bendis has basically given this issue to the Ultimate X-Men and allowed Spidey to guest. I suppose there are a couple things making it more his issue, but no… he’s guesting in his own comic. It’s a mildly entertaining comic too. He’s on…

Ultimate Spider-Man 91 (May 2006)

Bendis writes first person exposition rounded rectangles–there’s just no good description for them like word balloons–for Kitty Pryde. She’s Peter’s girlfriend, after all, and she guest stars in about half the issue. Probably more. Oh, wait, Bendis never wrote those rectangles for Mary Jane. It’s a good issue and all, though the front is a lot better than the back, which has nothing of interest except maybe May going on a date, but it reveals something about Bendis as a writer. He was always using Mary Jane as an unknowable side character, ever ready to use her for plot twists. Kitty, on…

Ultimate Spider-Man 90 (April 2006)

Dell’s back on inks. There aren’t as many close ups so it doesn’t get too bad, but it’s not great. The faces are too sharp. It’s mostly an action issue, with cuts to Nick Fury and Tony Stark talking in exposition to explain the comic to the reader. Ultimate Vulture is a waste of time, just a way for Bendis to introduce Ultimate Tinkerer, who’s probably a waste of time too. Silver Sable’s team isn’t in it as much, which is both good and bad. Good because Bendis wrote them so poorly, but bad because it means he’s got no dedication to…

Ultimate Spider-Man 89 (March 2006)

And then Bendis gets around to introducing an Ultimate villain who I guess hasn’t had an Ultimate version yet. Even though I assumed he had one long ago. In Ultimate Six maybe? But before he gets to that reveal–which is the hard cliffhanger–Bendis gets cute. He has these storybook retellings of the issue’s main characters, starting with Silver Sable. He doesn’t explain why he writes her sidekicks’ dialogue like it’s a PG-rated Tarantino knockoff though. And none of the revelations make her a better character. The Roxxon guy gets a flashback too, which is a page burner. Bendis is either trying to…

Ultimate Spider-Man 88 (February 2006)

I think John Dell took over inking. It has his name on the cover but not the interior credits, but the art looks totally different. There’s a long scene with May ranting about how much she hates Spider-Man (weak scene for her) and she looks totally different. As for the rest of the story, the end’s a little funny–once again, Peter only gets in trouble because he’s irrationally dumb; he’s supposed to be a genius, yet he falls for an obvious trick. But before he gets in trouble, it’s funny. Silver Sable is still a terrible character. Kitty, however, is getting more…

Ultimate Spider-Man 87 (February 2006)

The Flash Thompson thing is a somewhat funny distraction–Silver Sable kidnapped him instead of Peter–but it doesn’t make up for Ultimate Silver Sable being the worst villain in this comic since Geldof or whatever. Bendis tries real hard on her and her sidekicks too, which makes his failure more obvious. But this issue also has Peter dating Kitty Pryde and being utterly insensitive to Mary Jane. As she was utterly insensitive to him quite a bit, it should read like just desserts but it doesn’t. Bendis never gave them closure. I’m hoping it’s intentional and not Bendis forgetting about something else. Kitty’s…

Ultimate Spider-Man 86 (January 2006)

Maybe not everything should get an Ultimate version. For example, Bendis opens the issue with Ultimate Damage Control. Does there need to be an Ultimate Damage Control… probably not. But Bendis uses it for exposition and to frame his flashback. It’s okay enough. Except the arc’s not about them, it’s about Ultimate Silver Sable, who’s apparently a corporate espionage person. Does she need an Ultimate version? Hard to say, but definitely not the way Bendis writes this issue. She has all these morons working for her (the Wild Pack, I think) and Bendis is clearly enjoying writing their dialogue… but it’s all…

Ultimate Spider-Man 85 (January 2006)

Good issue. Finally. The last few have been trying. Bendis still has his pacing problems, but at least the comic’s amusing. The scene where Black Cat meets Peter Parker had me laughing out loud, even if Bagley and Hanna’s art for it is weak. The resolution to the big gang fight works well too, though it’s unclear why Bendis brought in so many new characters for it. None of them get a resolution, which makes the time Bendis spent on them earlier even more pointless. And the soft cliffhangers are good. There are a couple, one for the Kingpin–Bendis really didn’t use…

Ultimate Spider-Man 84 (December 2005)

Wow, the pacing’s actually worse with this issue. Frighteningly, it’s not even Bendis worst pacing on Ultimate Spider-Man. The issue opens with a fight scene. There are maybe ten recognizable characters and then Hammerhead’s thugs. Bagley can’t make the fight scenes look interesting; it’s just an incompressible jumble of activity. There are occasional pauses for banter–Peter keeps flirting with Elektra as they fight, Moon Knight keeps acting psychotic, Hammerhead keeps threatening everyone. The only interesting part is when Peter calls the cops for help–as Spider-Man. It’s a great honest moment. But it doesn’t end well for him, as he’s just used a…