Ultimate Spider-Man 29 (December 2002)

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I’m usually pretty reserved in any Bagley praise—Bagley hands are one of the more frightening things in comics—but he does give Jonah a great expression here. There’s no dialogue and he and Bendis take most of a page to do it and they make this great moment where the reader can tell what Jonah’s thinking from his expression.

The issue’s incredibly frustrating, but in a good way. Gwen moves in (or comes over for a sleepover while her dad’s away) and Mary gets pissed off. Peter’s confused; plus he’s got a Spider-Man impersonator committing crimes. I can’t remember if it’s Ultimate Mysterio.

So after all the buildup—the fight with Mary Jane, the oddness of having Gwen around—then Peter heads off to fight the impostor.

And gets shot by the cops.

And Bendis ends the issue. It’s exceptionally frustrating, but if it weren’t, it wouldn’t work.

CREDITS

Stolen Identity; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Art Thibert; colorist, Transparency Digital; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, C.B. Cebulski, Brian Smith and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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Ultimate Spider-Man 28 (December 2002)

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Okay, so the Rhino is a Spider-Man villain. I thought he was, but couldn’t remember for sure.

Bendis turns the issue into something of a joke. He introduces Ultimate Rhino, all right, but it’s got very little to do with Spider-Man. In fact, Peter’s inability to escape his daily life to fight Rhino is the entire issue.

Only a little of the issue is actually spent on Peter though. Bendis gives Gwen a nice showcase—though Bendis’s crying sounds, mixed with the Bagley art, made me think she was throwing up and I didn’t remember them making Ultimate Gwen Stacy pregnant (that development was a 616 one, right?).

Once it becomes clear what Bendis is doing, it’s hard to get upset about him wasting an issue on it… because it’s so much fun. Bendis’s ability to waste space but still deliver an enjoyable read is his saving grace.

CREDITS

Sidetracked; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Art Thibert; colorist, Transparency Digital; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, C.B. Cebulski, Brian Smith and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Supergirl 59 (February 2011)

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All writers have limits… and it’s too bad Gates’s limit is writing Cat Grant as a likable human being. He just can’t do it. He tries and tries here, but he ends up making Superwoman more likable than Cat. It’s a strange disconnect. There’s just something so hateful about her, he’s gone beyond a point where he can even bring a glimmer of humanity to her.

That statement made, it’s a wonderful issue. It’s a Christmas issue, ending up in Smallville (it’s hard to tell Kara’s supposed to be the one in the glasses—I thought they were still drawing Ma Kent with blonde hair or something). Gates and Igle get in the action, they get in some drama….

They wrap things up beautifully (it’s their last issue). It’s really too bad they didn’t get a chance to do the comic, instead getting stuck with crossover tripe.

Still, lovely work.

CREDITS

Day of the Dollmaker, Part Two: End of the Line; writer, Sterling Gates; penciller, Jamal Igle; inkers, Jon Sibal and Robin Riggs; colorist, Blond; letterer, Travis Lanham; editors, Wil Moss and Matt Idelson; publisher, DC Comics.

Supergirl 58 (January 2011)

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Gates really humanizes Cat Grant here (I didn’t know she had a dead son, for example) and it comes a little late. If he’d done it earlier, she wouldn’t have seemed so shrill. Besides that delay in characterizing, it’s a good issue.

Igle does a great job with Supergirl, as usual, but something about his approach is a little different. This issue is the first in forever not to be laden with New Krypton scenery or props; it gives Igle a chance just to do the superhero stuff and he does it really well.

Gates’s pacing is a little off too, I suppose. He’s going for dramatic emphasis more than content.

Oh, now I remember how this issue ends… with Lois going to visit her psychopathic sister. It’s undoubtedly a setup for something, but it takes the issue away from Supergirl and Cat.

Regardless, it’s a good little Christmas issue.

CREDITS

Day of the Dollmaker, Part One: Toying With Emotions; writer, Sterling Gates; penciller, Jamal Igle; inker, Jon Sibal; colorist, Blond; letterer, Travis Lanham; editors, Wil Moss and Matt Idelson; publisher, DC Comics.

Supergirl Annual 2 (December 2010)

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For the annual, Gates sends Supergirl to the future. The whole new Legion of Super-Heroes continuity is incredibly difficult to understand. Every time they guest in a book, I get even more confused. But Gates does a good job doing a done-in-one adventure. The story moves, has a lot of scenes, and has Supergirl and Brainiac 5’s relationship develop a little.

What’s bad is Matt Camp’s art. He draws everyone like they’re twelve—making the Supergirl kisses Brainiac 5 scene a little confusing—and it draws attention to things one shouldn’t be minding.

There’s some fill-in work from Marco Rudy and Rudy looks a little like Chris Samnee (though nowhere near as good) and those pages work really well. He draws the cast like people, not these weirdos with too young heads and too mature bodies.

It’s nice Gates can competently do this continuity nonsense.

CREDITS

Supergirl & the Legion of Super-Heroes; writer, Sterling Gates; artists, Matt Camp and Marco Rudy; colorists, Blond and Brad Anderson; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Wil Moss and Matt Idelson; publisher, DC Comics.

Startling Stories: The Thing – Night Falls On Yancy Street 4 (September 2003)

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Dorkin continues to get better this issue and Haspiel nicely evens out. It’d be hard to get much worse than last issue, so at least he arrested the art decline.

It doesn’t become clear what Dorkin’s really doing with Yancy Street until the last few pages and, once it is clear, well… It’s unfortunate.

For all his repetitive Ben Grimm standards the first couple issues, Dorkin actually tries to do something significant (it’s irrelevant because, based on the time period, it’s clear the story was never in continuity) with the character.

And Haspiel is the wrong match.

I mean, Dorkin needs a strong editor on the series to reign in some of the nonsense and to sharpen the narration and to pace out the last two issues… but the series could have been something amazing.

Instead, Yancy Street’s a mildly interesting effort, one with the wrong art for the script.

CREDITS

Writer, Evan Dorkin; penciller, Dean Haspiel; inker, Wade Von Grawbadger; colorist, Matt Madden; letterer, Tom Orzechowski; editor, Andrew Lis; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Startling Stories: The Thing – Night Falls On Yancy Street 3 (August 2003)

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It’s really too bad, but as Dorkin’s writing gets better, Haspiel’s art continues to get worse. This issue is frequently hideous, what with the Sandman having an all new costume. It looks like a cross between a jester’s outfit and something from the sixties “Batman” TV show.

Dorkin’s trying—finally—to bring some authentic New York flavor to the comic, which doesn’t work particularly well, but at least he’s trying. He also foreshadows (or maybe not, maybe it’s just predictable) the death of Ben’s squeeze. Dorkin also takes another crack at dealing with Ben and Alicia’s relationship like it’s important. He does better, but not well.

I assume the final issue will have more troubled art (Haspiel and the superhero outfits is complete failure) and all questions will be answered. Well, the questions raised this issue. Dorkin either didn’t bother before or just executed those scenes incompetently.

It’s nearly mediocre.

CREDITS

Writer, Evan Dorkin; penciller, Dean Haspiel; inkers, Haspiel and Wade Von Grawbadger; colorist, Matt Madden; letterer, Tom Orzechowski; editor, Andrew Lis; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Startling Stories: The Thing – Night Falls On Yancy Street 2 (July 2003)

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Dorkin’s pacing is still excellent this issue, maybe even more than in the last one. And I guess this issue is somewhat better, even if Haspiel’s artwork fails to impress (he does a lot of superhero stuff in the second half and most of it falls flat). What’s troubling is Dorkin’s characterization of Ben.

The series, regardless of it being a Startling Stories title or having an indie creative team, seems to be shaping up to being about Ben cheating on Alicia. Dorkin comments on it, then handles it like Ben’s an adolescent. The series is set during the period when Johnny was dating Crystal, which I think was in the seventies. In other words, Dorkin has a wide timeline to work with and chooses the temporal setting for a reason.

Then he handles it like a Saturday morning cartoon.

Still, the series is getting better, thought not particularly good.

CREDITS

Writer, Evan Dorkin; artist, Dean Haspiel; colorist, Matt Madden; letterer, Tom Orzechowski; editor, Andrew Lis; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Startling Stories: The Thing – Night Falls On Yancy Street 1 (June 2003)

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I’m not particularly literate in Fantastic Four, but even I have read this comic before. It’s Ben Grimm all upset about being the Thing so he hoofs it back to Yancy Street so he feels better about himself.

It’s pretty much every Thing comic stereotype thrown into an issue, with the possible exception of a new love interest (after Ben storms out on Alicia… she was being nice to him again).

The only other difference is it’s from Evan Dorkin and Dean Haspiel, which I guess is to give it an indie edge. Given Ben’s a talking wall, I’m not sure how anyone could draw him without some kind of indie sensibility and the Haspiel artwork is lovely.

As for Dorkin, I’m as unimpressed as I usually am with his writing. He overwrites the narration (in a misguided Stan Lee homage?), his observations are trite but it is paced well.

CREDITS

Writer, Evan Dorkin; artist, Dean Haspiel; colorist, Matt Madden; letterer, Tom Orzechowski; editor, Andrew Lis; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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