Tom Strong 24 (March 2004)

Tom Strong #24

What did I just read? Hogan’s back writing again and he does a decent enough job scripting, but the plotting is a disaster.

It starts okay–Tom Strong’s ex-girlfriend (from the thirties) turns out to be a cryogenically preserved ice person and he’s trying to help her. So he brings her home. One might think it would lead to all sorts of interesting scenes between his wife and the ex-girlfriend, maybe Tesla and the ex-girlfriend but no… nothing. Hogan knows he should be doing that story because he hurries through a scene between Dhalua and the ex.

Instead, he sets up some possible future story. Not an important one, because he also doesn’t show how the ex-girlfriend’s reappearance has affected Tom (other than him trying to help her); there’s simply no weight to the story. It ought to weight six tons.

The art is gorgeous but the story is insincerely executed.

B- 

CREDITS

Snow Queen; writer, Peter Hogan; penciller, Chris Sprouse; inkers, Karl Story and John Dell; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Kristy Quinn and Scott Dunbier; publisher, America’s Best Comics.

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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.

Ultimate Spider-Man 99 (October 2006)

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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 doesn’t stick with them, he’s being cheap. Bendis has become so disingenuous with the series, it’s hard to “trust” him not to be as sensational as possible.

The Gwen stuff almost makes up for it. There’s decent “move the story along” scenes with the Fantastic Four too.

CREDITS

Clone Saga, Part Three; 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.

Ultimate Spider-Man 98 (October 2006)

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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 what else goes on this issue. A great cameo from Nick Fury? A strange scene between Peter and Mary Jane’ mom; I don’t think she’s shown up before this arc. At least not enough for her to be memorable.

Bendis has lost his focus on Peter in Ultimate.

CREDITS

Clone Saga, Part Two; 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.

Ultimate Spider-Man 97 (September 2006)

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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 it more this issue.

And Peter’s callousness when it comes to Kitty is a surprise. He never acted callous before with Mary Jane, so what’s the point of this new romance? Sales bump from crossovers?

Oddly, the lengthy, meticulous action sequence is the best thing in the comic.

CREDITS

Clone Saga, Part One; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inkers, John Dell and John Sibal; colorist, Richard Isanove; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, John Barber and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 96 (August 2006)

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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 terrible job on Morbius. One shouldn’t want to snicker whenever a guest star appears on page.

The incident gives Bendis an opportunity to develop Peter and Mary Jane’s new relationship, which is a good thing… though he skips explaining her change of heart.

CREDITS

Morbius, Part Two; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, John Dell; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, John Barber, Nicole Boose and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 95 (July 2006)

281624

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 more.

But this arc is the Morbius one and dang if he doesn’t go for disturbing. The vampires aren’t cute, they’re evil and scary. For the first time–maybe ever–I was worried about Peter’s safety. It’s bad stuff going on.

Maybe I wrote off Bendis’s ambitions early.

CREDITS

Morbius, Part One; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inkers, John Dell and Jimmy Palmiotti; colorist, Richard Isanove; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, John Barber, Nicole Boose and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 94 (July 2006)

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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. Seems like the perfect kind of thing Bendis could have juxtaposed in a single issue or maybe a good two parter.

Instead, Bendis went for sensationalism, aiming about as high as an episode of “Knight Rider”. I said before he’s running on empty; this issue confirms it.

CREDITS

Deadpool, Part Four; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inkers, John Dell and Mark Morales; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, John Barber, Nicole Wiley Boose and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 92 (May 2006)

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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 this island, fighting bad cyborg guys, running into X-Men. So for every new bad guy, there are more good guys to fight them. Dumb fun.

It’s like a video game, actually. Maybe Bendis originally wrote it for one.

Bendis’s ambition for the series, however, is kaput.

CREDITS

Deadpool, Part Two; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inkers, John Dell and Mark McKenna; colorists, Laura Martin and Richard Isanove; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, John Barber, Nicole Boose and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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