Mark Bagley

Ultimatum: Spider-Man Requiem 2 (September 2009)

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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 on the flashback story too, like he forgot how to do Ultimate Spider-Man.

The finale, with Immonen, takes a couple pages. It’s predictable, without personality. If Immonen had more room, he might’ve been able to make it visually matter.

Bendis strikes again. He’s dreadfully uneven.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; pencillers, Mark Bagley, Stuart Immonen, Trevor Hairsine, Ron Randall, Bill Sienkiewicz and John Totleben; inkers, Scott Hanna, Wade von Grawbadger, Danny Miki, Randall, Sienkiewicz and Totleben; colorists, Pete Pantazis and Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Mark Paniccia and Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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Ultimatum: Spider-Man Requiem 1 (August 2009)

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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, which is cool. It’s still Bugle-centric (something Bendis never really let the regular series become) and, after seeming awkward, it turns out it’s the perfect fit. Outlandish and grounded at the same time, like the best of Ultimate Spider-Man.

Hope Bendis delivers for number two.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; pencillers, Mark Bagley and Stuart Immonen; inkers, Scott Hanna and Wade von Grawbadger; colorists, Edgar Delgado, Pete Pantazis and Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editor, Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 111 (September 2007)

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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 the logic of it. It becomes Peter (and Bendis) explaining the lack of reality in comic books. It’s a great move.

Bendis had to tell this one just right for the series to work (it’s been building 110 issues).

And he does.

CREDITS

The Talk; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; pencillers, Mark Bagley and Stuart Immonen; inker, Drew Hennessy; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, John Barber, Bill Rosemann and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 110 (August 2007)

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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 awesome… but Bendis chickened out) and then the big resolution. It requires a character surviving a gunshot wound to the head, but as long as it gets rid of Kingpin… maybe it’s worth it.

The Bendis tries a final page he just shouldn’t have….

Otherwise, not bad.

CREDITS

Ultimate Knights, Conclusion; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Drew Hennessy; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, John Barber and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 109 (July 2007)

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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 his multiple personalities. Instead it appears the issue is the big kick off for Kingpin versus Daredevil.

Shame it’s not Daredevil’s comic.

I don’t think Peter even speaks until there are only six pages left.

The issue is a misstep, not a mistake. I still have hope.

CREDITS

Ultimate Knights, Part Four; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Drew Hennessy; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, John Barber and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 108 (July 2007)

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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. Kitty and Mary Jane almost have a scene, then Bendis avoids it. Aunt May never gets a mention, Iron Fist never gets a mention.

He’s dragging things out, which doesn’t necessarily mean things are back to falling apart, but it’s not a good sign.

CREDITS

Ultimate Knights, Part Three; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Drew Hennessy; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, John Barber and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 107 (May 2007)

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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.

There are a few more scenes–Kitty in class, Mary Jane and Peter, Peter at the hospital–and Bendis is on for each of them. It’s still a little too soon to say, but he definitely seems engaged in the series again.

It’s good.

CREDITS

Ultimate Knights, Part Two; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Drew Hennessy; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, John Barber and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 106 (May 2007)

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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 lame too. There’s got to be a better way to bring him in to talk to Peter.

But the scenes at the Bugle and the one with Aunt May make up for the problems. The Fantastic Four scene is great too.

The series feels surprisingly rejuvenated.

CREDITS

Ultimate Knights, Part One; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Drew Hennessy; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, John Barber and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 105 (April 2007)

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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 is mildly interesting. Bendis seems to realize she’s the best character to come out of this arc, just because it’s very strange and he has good observations with her.

Still, it’s unfortunate Bendis had to write so many bad comics for so little change.

CREDITS

Clone Saga, Epilogue; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Drew Hennessy; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, John Barber and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 104 (March 2007)

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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 commit to the sensationalism for more than four issues, however, he would have put Ultimate Spider-Man somewhere entirely new.

Instead, he promises a return to the norm. With some changes, but definitely a return to the norm.

It’s unfortunate; Bendis never lets the comic grow.

D 

CREDITS

Clone Saga, Part Eight; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inkers, Drew Hennessy and Matt Ryan; colorist, Andy Troy; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, John Barber and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 103 (February 2007)

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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 see Bendis is pushing the series to a new situation–but he’s forcing it every step of the way. Especially since he never establishes a good timeline for the events he tells in flashback.

It’s probably worse than the nineties “The Clone Saga.” It’s painfully goofy.

CREDITS

Clone Saga, Part Seven; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Drew Hennessy; colorist, Studio F; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, John Barber and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 102 (January 2007)

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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 need him), but maybe not. I can’t imagine Thor’d be okay with it.

All of a sudden, the Ultimate Universe feels way too small. Bendis is trying to manage things, but then kicks off his weird Peter Parker clones business.

It’s goofy and trite and disappointing.

CREDITS

Clone Saga, Part Six; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Drew Hennessy; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, John Barber and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 101 (December 2006)

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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 to sell the issue on anger. Peter’s anger, the Fantastic Four’s anger. Maybe a little on Fury’s regret.

It reads way too fast, of course. Bendis is cashing in a lot of long term hints and so on and it sort of begins to pay off.

Well, maybe.

CREDITS

Clone Saga, Part Five; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Drew Hennessy; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, John Barber and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 100 (November 2006)

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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 between the CIA and SHIELD into the series and it’s just silly.

The art is so haphazard I thought they were using different pencillers. Dell goes overboard on Bagley, Drew Hennessy goes under. The result’s incredibly disjointed

Poor Spider-Man doesn’t even appear in his hundredth issue.

CREDITS

Clone Saga, Part Four; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inkers, John Dell and Drew Hennessy; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, John Barber and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.