Booster Gold/The Flintstones Special (May 2017)

Booster Gold/The Flintstones Special

Booster Gold meets The Flintstones. Then there’s a Jetsons backup. Both are fairly rank, though Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti try to infuse Jetsons with the political subtext Mark Russell usually brings to Flintstones. He doesn’t in the feature though. He just has Booster Gold be an idiot because Booster Gold is an idiot. It’s sort of the comic one would’ve expected from a Hanna-Barbera imprint at DC… unlike the actual Russell Flintstones comic.

Nice enough art on the feature from Rick Leonardi and Scott Hanna. Pier Brito’s Jetsons art isn’t ready for primetime.

CREDITS

Booster Trouble; writer, Mark Russell; penciller, Rick Leonardi; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Steve Buccellato; letterer, Dave Sharpe. Eternal Upgrade; writers, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti; artist, Pier Brito; colorist, Alex Sinclair; letterer, Michael Heisler. Editors, Brittany Holzherr and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

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The Flintstones 7 (March 2017)

The Flintstones #7

Until the last few pages, this issue of The Flinstones is just fine. I mean, Pugh’s not on this month and Rick Leonardi and Scott Hanna do an all right enough job but there’s something missing. Russell tries a lot–including Gazoo narrating the whole thing in a report–and some of it connects, some doesn’t. The end’s just way too sappy though.

CREDITS

Another Day on Earth; writer, Mark Russell; penciller, Rick Leonardi; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Chris Chuckry; letterer, Dave Sharpe; editors, Brittany Holzherr and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

Infinity Man and the Forever People 2 (September 2014)

Infinity Man and the Forever People #2

I was having trouble keeping track of what happened this issue until I realized the problem–nothing happens this issue. Didio and Giffen aren’t good at the banter with the marooned New Gods–or are they New Gods on their pilgrimage to Earth; it doesn’t matter. The banter’s lame. Four of the five leads are lame. And the last one is apparently a werewolf with some Wolverine influences.

At least he’s not lame.

The story has the team going to investigate some crop problems. There, they have an uninteresting battle with some soldiers from Apokolips. Why are they on Earth? No idea; it’s not as important as giving the titular Infinity Man–who looks like a Tron reject–a dramatic entrance.

There’s nothing terrible about the comic and nothing good either. Tom Grummett and Scott Hanna’s art looks less Kirby influenced than Byrne; strange. It’s all painfully indistinct and unimpressive.

C 

CREDITS

Wake Unto Me; writers, Keith Giffen and Dan Didio; penciller, Tom Grummett; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Mike Atiyeh; letterer, Travis Lanham; editors, Kyle Andrukiewicz and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

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.

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 89 (March 2006)

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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 get to the big reveal or he realized he needed something mildly interesting to finally happen this arc.

The good Peter Parker moments don’t really make up for the rest, but Hanna’s back; the action’s reasonably good.

It’s a weak issue in a tepid arc.

CREDITS

Silver Sable, Part Four; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, John Barber, Nicole Wiley and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 87 (February 2006)

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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 a vaguely fun addition to the cast, but she doesn’t seem to have any depth. I was hoping she’d meet May but no luck there.

The Ultimate Vision backup is a short, boring galactic history lesson. Whoever decided to make her visually female is a moron.

CREDITS

Silver Sable, Part Two; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Justin Ponsor. Ultimate Vision, Visions, Part Four of Six; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, John Romita Jr.; inker, Jimmy Palmiotti; colorist, June Chung. Letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, John Barber, Nicole Wiley and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 86 (January 2006)

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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 for a useless comic. He’s impressing himself again, which never goes well for the series.

The twist at the end, which should be played for laughs, ends up being vicious. The arc’s a misfire so far.

And the Ultimate Vision backup? Pointless but inoffensive writing; truly hideous art.

CREDITS

Silver Sable, Part One; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Justin Ponsor. Ultimate Vision, Visions, Part One of Six; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, John Romita Jr.; inker, Jimmy Palmiotti; colorist, Jonathan D. Smith. Letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, John Barber, Nicole Wiley and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man Annual 1 (October 2005)

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So if Peter can’t date Mary Jane, who can he date? Kitty Pryde, of course. Kitty Pryde? Why Kitty Pryde? Presumably because she’s age appropriate and is a superhero too.

Bendis opens the issue juxtaposing Kitty and Peter, showing how alone they are… and establishing Kitty has always had a crush on Spider-Man.

It’s silly and forced.

Then they go on a very cute date. Bendis overwrites it. Lots and lots of dialogue and nothing of consequence said. There are a few superfluous action scenes too; Bendis just doesn’t seem to know what to do with so much space.

Mary Jane doesn’t make an appearance, neither does Aunt May or anyone to play off Peter. With the Mark Brooks pencils, it barely even feels like Ultimate Spider-Man. The Flash and Kong cameo isn’t enough.

Bendis had an idea and, after this issue, it seems like a bad one.

CREDITS

The Date; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Brooks; inkers, Jaime Mendoza and Scott Hanna; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, John Barber, Nicole Wiley and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 85 (January 2006)

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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 him enough this arc as it turns out–and one for Peter. The Peter one just shows Aunt May should probably get half the comic to herself.

She’s definitely more interesting than Ultimate Moon Knight.

Bendis’s finish makes up for the arc’s weaker issues. Well, pretty much.

CREDITS

Warriors, Part Seven; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Jonathan D. Smith; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, John Barber, Nicole Wiley and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 84 (December 2005)

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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 McFarlane amount of web fluid and conveniently forgotten to keep all the people webbed.

Bendis also has an odd moment when he acknowledges Ultimate Marvel Team-Up, which I thought was out of continuity….

The issue could run a third of its page count.

CREDITS

Warriors, Part Six; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Jonathan D. Smith; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, John Barber, Nicole Wiley and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 83 (November 2005)

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Still with the pacing problems. Bendis does get around to a good conversation between Peter and Mary Jane, but there’s also a lot of rubbish with Moon Knight–Ultimate Moon Knight apparently has four multiple personalities who hang out at a swing set and banter with each other–and some with the Ultimate Kung Fu duo.

Oh, and Elektra going after some of Kingpin’s misbehaving flunkies.

Bendis front loaded the arc with all the actual content and is now just padding it out. Even Black Cat, who’s seemingly making an impression on Peter, is really just more padding. They’re not going to hook up or anything because Bendis still keeps things very chaste. The flirting’s just flirting, it’s all safe.

I can’t think of anything else in this one. Except the ending when it’s obvious Bendis has overloaded the arc with guest stars. Even the villain finds it all exasperating.

CREDITS

Warriors, Part Five; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Jonathan D. Smith; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, John Barber, Nicole Wiley and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 82 (November 2005)

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I forgot Ultimate Black Cat was supposed to be dead. She’s not. She’s back and she saves Peter. They make out a bit and he runs home. There’s also the fight scene at the beginning, which is rushed so Bendis can keep Hammerhead around for a while.

Let’s see, Hammerhead, Black Cat–oh, Jean DeWolfe gets a scene. And then some Ultimate Moon Knight malarkey. Aunt May, then Kingpin. Not a lot. Lots of characters, not much story. If last issue was a bridging issue, this one is Bendis turning it into a suspension bridge.

There’s a little about high school too. The issue still takes place on the day Peter walked out of class–which doesn’t seem right, but I guess it’s possible.

Oh, and Bendis loses track of Iron Fist and the Master of Kung Fu. They’re nowhere to be seen.

Bendis is really dragging things out here.

CREDITS

Warriors, Part Four; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Jonathan D. Smith; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, John Barber, Nicole Wiley and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 81 (October 2005)

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Ultimate Jean DeWolfe is awesome and her rooftop conversation with Peter’s great–Bendis seems to realize he needs a mentor of some kind, but never keeps anyone consistently–but the issue’s sort of a waste.

Besides DeWolfe confirming the Kingpin’s read of the world is basically right and Peter should take on bad guys regardless of who informs him about them… there’s nothing going on here. Except a kung fu fight with Ultimate Iron Fist and Ultimate Master of Kung Fu versus a gang. It’s not Bagley’s fault it’s boring to read, it’s Bendis’s for giving the pair so many adversaries the art is too busy.

And then there’s another “did Peter really mess up that bad” moment before Bendis brings in Black Cat for the cliffhanger. He’s just using it as a bridge issue.

It’s not a bad issue, just a pointless one. Bendis could’ve done a lot better.

CREDITS

Warriors, Part Three; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Jonathan D. Smith; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, John Barber, Nicole Wiley and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 80 (October 2005)

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Bendis is trying really hard this issue; I wonder if he realized how loose he’d been getting on Ultimate Spider-Man and decided to refocus his energies.

The issue opens with Peter fighting Moon Knight, which has an ominous Elektra side story and some great banter from Peter. Then there’s some Bugle stuff, then Peter goes off for his talking heads scene with Ultimate Kingpin.

After maybe the greatest moment in the comic in a while–Ultimate Elektra, master ninja assassin, chastises Spider-Man for scoping out her boobs. It’s a great moment of realism from Bendis, who’s otherwise been way too concentrated on the soap opera aspect of the series. This one moment makes Ultimate more realistic than any of his Mary Jane stuff.

The talking heads scene with Kingpin is awesome just because Bendis writes Kingpin as really smart and really evil.

It’s the best issue in ages.

CREDITS

Warriors, Part Two; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Jonathan D. Smith; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, John Barber, Nicole Wiley and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 79 (September 2005)

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Everything goes fine in this issue until the end reveal. Ultimate Moon Knight has just about the worst costume design ever and it’s hard to make it through his one page without giggling. He looks like Marvin the Martian.

Otherwise, Bendis skips back to the beginning of his previous Mary Jane issue and follows Peter instead. It’s a nice little move, though he doesn’t announce it, which seems like déjà vu.

It’s also a Kingpin and crime story, not a Peter Parker story (not yet anyway). There’s a lot with Ultimate Kingpin being in trouble and the guys out to usurp him. Bendis handles those parts really well.

He also writes some intense stream of consciousness stuff for Peter–it’s practically a jumping on point there’s so much exposition in it–but it works. It reestablishes Peter as the comic’s lead, something Bendis has ignored lately.

Good (except Moon Knight).

CREDITS

Warriors, Part One; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Jonathan D. Smith; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, John Barber, Nicole Wiley and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 78 (August 2005)

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And, like he knows he needs to do something special, Bendis tries to get his groove back with a Mary Jane-centered issue. She’s dealing with Peter dumping her and meets some great older guy who Liz hooks her up with.

It’s a talking heads book at various different locations, mostly the mall and then the concert where the great older guy plays and afterwards.

It’s okay. Bendis is trying way too hard to redeem Mary Jane as a character. Kong probably even comes off better because he’s at least in character. Bendis is forcing Mary Jane to fit his narrative, which isn’t a usual problem for him.

He could have done something crazy or signifiant with this issue; instead, he’s predictable.

There’s a great moment when Mary Jane fixates on a person at the mall. It’s just there, no explanation. Only honest moment she has in the entire comic.

CREDITS

Dumped; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Jonathan D. Smith; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, John Barber, Nicole Wiley and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 77 (July 2005)

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There’s Nick Fury. He wasn’t watching the local news and apparently Ultimate SHIELD doesn’t care when its agents monitoring threats go missing.

It’s another all-action issue, with some expected developments towards the end.

Bendis does a bad job with everyone except Peter. Fury’s decisions are kind of dumb. He’s just here to deliver an ominous order to rid Peter of his powers, which he probably should have done sooner if he could have, right?

As for Mary Jane… Bendis seems to recognize he’s written himself into a hole. When she and Peter have their big blowout, it’s all Peter yelling and being angry and Mary Jane not talking. I had to go back and read the scene a couple times before I realized Bendis just doesn’t know what she should say to make it work.

Because it can’t work.

Bendis is careening slowly off the rails. His momentum’s gone.

CREDITS

Hobgoblin, Part Six; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Jonathan D. Smith; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, John Barber, Nicole Wiley and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 76 (June 2005)

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The Ultimate Spider-Man all action issue. Let’s see, do we have Peter’s internal dialogue going full steam? Yep. Is Mary Jane unexpectedly in danger? Yep. Is the threat lame? Yep.

First, Bendis does do a great job with the internal dialogue. Peter’s conflict over fighting Hobgoblin Harry is great. All the stuff he says? Great. But it’s ephemeral. Bendis isn’t building towards anything, just getting some words on the page in front of the fight scene. Hobgoblin’s real ugly too; not sure if Bagley’s lazy or it’s on purpose.

Mary Jane showing up is yet another wishy-washy thing Bendis is doing with her. She’s there to confront Harry, meaning she didn’t listen to Peter–who told her to stay away to stay safe.

As for Hobgoblin as a villain? He’s destroying Manhattan. Whoop-de-doo. All Ultimate villains destroy Manhattan. The heroes too.

And why’s Nick Fury M.I.A.?

CREDITS

Hobgoblin, Part Five; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Jonathan D. Smith; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, John Barber, Nicole Wiley and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 75 (June 2005)

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Not quite a great seventy-fifth issue. It’s not bad, but Bendis is now ripping off Fight Club. He doesn’t get good mileage out of it either.

There are a couple big things this issue and not Harry always having been goblin-ready. First is Peter and May having a blow out about him going out in the middle of the night. Even though they’ve moved, Bendis hasn’t really given May any page time. She doesn’t get a lot here, but enough to reestablish herself as a force in the comic.

Then there’s the talk with Mary Jane. Yeah, Bendis is really making her out to be a twit. He’s taking away at least half her intellect, which is cheap and bad. She doesn’t even have motivation anymore; Bendis is being very wishy-washy. It hurts the comic.

The big reveal at the end–the Tyler Durden moment–is awful.

CREDITS

Hobgoblin, Part Four; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Jonathan D. Smith; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, John Barber, Nicole Wiley and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 74 (May 2005)

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If one believes Mary Jane’s explanations this issue–and Peter’s memory–then Bendis was laying the groundwork for the Mary Jane and Harry thing from the start.

The revelation doesn’t just hurt Peter, it hurts the reader. The reader, who knows the Osborns are bad news, who know Mary Jane is the secretly beautiful smart girl wowed with the handsome rich kid, feels the same pain Peter feels. Only the reader has been duped. Bendis can deceive Peter all he wants, it’s part of making a dramatic narrative. Deceiving the reader too? It’s a little different.

It’s calculated and cheap and incredibly affective. At this point–what with Harry setting his evil plans in motion–one has to assume Mary Jane gets into significant peril for her to become sympathetic again.

The issue hurts to read at times.

There’s also a little scene with Jeanne De Wolf towards the finish.

CREDITS

Hobgoblin, Part Three; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Jonathan D. Smith; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, John Barber, Nicole Wiley and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 73 (May 2005)

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Eh.

Bendis delves into Harry’s return, setting him up to be a teenage supervillain. He’s rich, he’s got secrets–he now remembers all the bad stuff, thanks to a hypnotically placed phrase–and he’s probably got the Green Goblin formula.

It’s a waste of an issue though, as Bendis is showing his hand early. He’s delaying dealing with Peter and Harry; giving Harry the whole issue, but one where he’s suspicious–Bendis never gets into Harry’s mind past some nightmarish flashbacks–just primes the reader for Harry’s evil plan.

Why will Harry have an evil plan? Like father, like son? Or maybe I’m wrong and Bendis has something else planned. But he’s setting the foundation for another of the Ultimate Goblin stories. They all sort of run together and having an orange teen goblin won’t distinguish this one.

I hope I’m wrong; I hope Bendis does something interesting with Harry.

CREDITS

Hobgoblin, Part Two; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Jonathan D. Smith; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, John Barber, Nicole Wiley and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 72 (April 2005)

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Big time revelation this issue… Mary Jane was dating Harry Osborn (secretly) when the series started. Not sure how well this retcon fits in or if Bendis had it planned all the time.

But it definitely changes one’s perspective on Mary Jane. After all the issues of Peter telling her his secrets… she never told him a big one.

Otherwise, the issue just has Harry coming back. Peter’s got an action scene, but it’s probably unconnected to the bigger plot.

Bendis front loads the issue with the Mary Jane and Harry thing, then brings it back at the end to surprise the reader. Harry and Peter have the beginnings of an honest conversation–though nothing explains why Bagley draws Harry like he’s twenty-eight–but Bendis is mostly just trying to entice the reader.

He introduces a handful of rather big questions to answer; maybe even fundamentally rocking the boat.

CREDITS

Hobgoblin, Part One; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Jonathan D. Smith; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, John Barber, Nick Lowe and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 71 (March 2005)

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And here’s the rewarding turn of events. It’s entirely depressing–maybe even beyond depressing–as Peter confronts his greatest fear… he’s going to get everyone killed.

Bendis doesn’t even try to end the comic on an okay note. Peter’s consumed with despondence; it’s palpable and Mary showing up to complete the bookend from the last issue just makes it worse. Bendis has all of a sudden turned the book into a look at the (super) human condition and he doesn’t have anything nice to say.

The Ultimate Dr. Strange stuff, which probably takes up half the issue, is great. Bendis practically hands the comic over to him; it works quite well. The character’s amusingly vain but still likable and sympathetic.

Bagley and Hanna change up the art occasionally, for Peter’s nightmare panels, and it’s rather effective.

For Peter, the whole thing is, quite literally, hellacious; Bendis drags the reader along.

CREDITS

Strange, Part Two of Two; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Jonathan D. Smith; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Nick Lowe and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 70 (February 2005)

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Bendis must have been going light on the Gwen mentions to save up for this issue. Here we find out Peter’s studies have been even worse since her death–he’s cutting class to web-sling the grief away. This particularly day he runs into the Ultimates–which is a little odd, especially since Bendis tells most of it in summary–and gets a fresh assignment from Jameson.

The best thing about the issue is how Bendis layers in Jameson being pissed at Urich and saddling him with Peter as a sidekick. It’s the only thing subtle in the entire issue.

There’s an uncanny tone once Peter finds out the assignment–interviewing Dr. Strange (whose Ultimate origin is maybe the most inventive of any Ultimate character and it’s just a rip of DC’s eighties stuff). Bagley handles that tone far better than the Ultimates action scenes.

It’s okay, if thoroughly unrewarding.

C+ 

CREDITS

Strange, Part One; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Jonathan D. Smith; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Nick Lowe and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 69 (January 2005)

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I just got it… Bendis is mixing Ultimate Marvel Team-Up with “Spider-Man No More” to show Peter why he can’t give up being Spider-Man. With yet another issue with no mention of Gwen. Bendis talks around it too much. Mary can tell Gandhi jokes but she can’t talk about Gwen. If it’s an intentional move on Bendis’s part, like a grief handling thing, it’s not working.

Otherwise, the issue’s pretty darn strong. Johnny Storm gets outed as a fire person of some kind or another (Liz Allen is scared he’s a mutant) and he can’t go back to Midtown. There’s a nice little scene with Mary and Liz, a nicer one with Mary and Peter and then the big talking heads scene between Spidey and Johnny.

Peter’s pep talk to Johnny is subtly a rather depressing one. It’s “With Great Power,” but without those words.

It’s good.

CREDITS

Meet Me; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorists, Jonathan D. Smith and Chris Sotomayor; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Nick Lowe and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 68 (January 2005)

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Johnny Storm goes to Midtown High. Bendis is apparently on the guest star bandwagon right now. At least Gwen gets a mention, with Mary telling Peter to snap out of the funk but he really can’t because all of Ultimate is in one.

Bendis is coasting along here, not really establishing anything–he previously mentioned May and Peter might be moving, but there’s nothing at home here. He opens with the Fantastic Four, no less. Peter and the gang just show up later.

There’s a lot of mention of them being sophomores, more than I can remember happening before, which reads like Bendis is trying to reestablish the ground situation. Kong’s a bit of a bully now, Flash hasn’t changed since Gwen’s death.

The issue’s fun–Bendis knows how to write fun–but the lack of focus hurts it a little. Bendis needs to build again, instead he’s treading water.

CREDITS

Popular; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Jonathan D. Smith; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Nick Lowe and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 67 (December 2004)

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Not unpredictably, Bendis uses the silliness to bring up a series topic. It’s on the last page and only for a moment, but it’s serious and the lunacy of brain swapping makes it possible.

There’s a lot of funny stuff this issue–until Peter (as Logan) calls the X-Men, I hadn’t even thought of it being a mind swap movie spoof. Bendis does a little bit too good a job making the plot its own thing for it to be obvious. All he needed was a Freaky Friday line, but whatever.

Logan and Peter arguing through a prison break and a fight with a supervillain make for a fun read. Even the resolution to the brain swap is funny because it shows Peter’s complete lack of control of anything around him.

Again, it’s not great–Bendis doesn’t take it seriously enough to try hard–but it’s an amusing read.

CREDITS

Jump the Shark; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Jonathan D. Smith; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Nick Lowe and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 66 (December 2004)

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When a comic opens with an illustrated version of the writer apologizing for the content… well, it’s not supposed to be a good sign, right? Bendis is going out of his way to ask the reader not to take the story seriously.

The story is Logan (you know, Wolverine) and Peter swapping minds. Peter wakes up in a dive hotel, has to get to Queens. Meanwhile, Logan insults Aunt May, makes out with Mary Jane, pervs on cheerleaders.

Bendis might be doing comedy to relieve the pressure from Gwen’s death–she’s not even mentioned in the issue–or he might just be goofing.

Either way, it’s constantly unexpected and inventive. Putting a character who doesn’t care at all in the place of one who cares too much is bound to create drama.

Even better, given Logan’s mishandling of things, there might be some good aftershocks in later issues.

It’s fine.

CREDITS

Even We Don’t Believe This; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Jonathan D. Smith; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Nick Lowe and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 65 (November 2004)

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It’s a great Ultimate Spider-Man until the end.

Bendis apes The Breakfast Club a little, putting Peter, Mary, Liz, Kong and Flash in detention. Then he flashes back to reveal what got them there, then he lets people say some things. Mostly Mary, put also Peter.

It’s one of those awesome talking issues Bendis does every once in a while.

But then he feels the need to rush Peter’s mourning arc and he cheapens the whole thing. Bendis assumes his readers are smart enough for the first three-quarters, but too dumb to let it finish gracefully.

It’s a conflicting issue. It’s mostly excellent, but it’s also a flop. At least it’s a believable flop–the big finish isn’t contrived, it’s just too soon.

That character work he gets done is fantastic, though. He reveals just as much about the speakers as their subjects. It’s a very impressive sequence.

CREDITS

Detention; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Jonathan D. Smith; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Nick Lowe and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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