The Amazing Spider-Man 13 (June 1964)

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Peter appears to be pushing Betty away at this point, but he might just be obtuse. The first appearance of Mysterio is decent, but not anything special. Lee spends a lot of time on Mysterio’s origin and the nature of his outfit–Lee’s pacing is great here, the amount of story he fits into the issue, but it’s barely about Spider-Man.

The Spider-Man story this issue is Peter worrying about developing a multiple personality or a Jekyll and Hyde type problem. Well, for a couple pages anyway. Then he’s worried about Aunt May’s mortgage payment (something he paid in full the first or second issue, for a year, so either Lee forgot or it’s been a while… and Peter missed out on Midtown’s summer vacation).

There’s just way too little Peter Parker and when there is Peter Parker, it’s usually as Spider-Man… so it’s not as compelling.

CREDITS

The Menace of… Mysterio!; writer and editor, Stan Lee; artist, Steve Ditko; colorist, Stan Goldberg; letterer, Art Simek; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 13 (November 2001)

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Who made the Mary decision? Not Mary Jane, not MJ, but Mary.

Was it Bendis or Jemas? I suppose someone’s said something about it online so I could find it, but I don’t care.

I also don’t care about some of Bagley’s worse talking heads in this amazing talking heads comic.

It’s the confession issue. Thirteen issues in and Peter Parker tells Mary Jane Watson he’s Spider-Man.

It’s got to be some kind of a record. It doesn’t really change the book because the way Bendis has paced it, it’s not like it’s a long time. But it’s also not like a dumb teenager thing to do. Maybe it is a little.

But it’s an honest thing. It’s a great issue, easily the best in the series so far–it’s probably hard to top. I’ll try to keep track.

This issue is exactly why I love Ultimate Spider-Man.

CREDITS

Confessions; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Art Thibert; colorist, Jung Choi; letterer, Richard Starkings and Albert Deschesne; editors, Brian Smith and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 12 (October 2001)

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Where Lee had Peter do his homework for supervillains–research, science stuff–Bendis has his Peter write jokes. It’s a good scene, Spider-Man taunting the Kingpin with a bunch of jokes (did Ultimate Daredevil ever get mad Spider-Man outsmarted him in getting Kingpin in the most mundane way ever–I mean, security tapes? It’s like getting Capone on tax evasion), but it’s a very different Spider-Man.

The issue’s basically a long fight scene. Well, not exactly, it’s a couple long fight sequences, Spider-Man versus Electro and the Enforcers, then Spider-Man versus Kingpin, then an epilogue.

The fight scenes are fine. Bendis’s dialogue is funny and it isn’t clear if Peter knows spilling water on Electro will kill him or not and he just does it (not much narration this issue, not many thought bevels–if any).

Still a quick read, but Bendis makes it fun.

CREDITS

Battle Royal; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Art Thibert; colorist, Jung Choi; letterer, Richard Starkings and Albert Deschesne; editors, Brian Smith and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 11 (September 2001)

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Bendis wastes two pages on an advertisement for a security system this issue. It’s kind of important to the story, but something we could have picked up along the way. He’s padding. He’s got a forty-five second conversation over three pages and he’s still padding. It’s kind of frustrating here because he’s skipped something.

Mary’s mad at Peter. Why? Well, it’s not clear. In fact, it’s so unclear, I felt like I skipped an issue, because last issue, she was writing him notes in class telling him she wasn’t mad at him and smiling at him.

Little continuity problem there. When you’re pacing a comic like Bendis is pacing this one, that kind of continuity problem is real annoying.

Otherwise, it’s a good issue. The Enforcers are funnier here. Funny, idiot thugs.

This issue is the first time I realized Bendis’s Peter is nowhere near as smart as Lee’s.

CREDITS

Discovery; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Art Thibert; colorist, Jung Choi; letterer, Richard Starkings and Albert Deschesne; editors, Brian Smith and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 10 (August 2001)

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Spider-Man meets the Kingpin… and gets his butt kicked. Amusingly, of course. Bendis makes superhero defeat humiliation amusing like no one else. Whereas Lee had defeat really hit Peter hard, Bendis just lets him roll with it, learn from it. He doesn’t give up, doesn’t even think about giving up.

Finally, Aunt May is coming into the picture–five or six issues since Uncle Ben died and, since then, her appearances have been cameos–here, it’s clear she’s going to be an important part of the book.

What’s really nice also is how Bendis doesn’t go for the cheap drama. While Peter’s worried about Liz–staring at her in class for a bit–Mary doesn’t take this attention to be some kind of slight against her (maybe she will soon, I don’t remember, but she doesn’t here).

And the close, when Peter has his eureka moment in class… nice.

CREDITS

The Worst Thing; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Art Thibert; colorist, Jung Choi; letterer, Richard Starkings and Albert Deschesne; editors, Brian Smith and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 9 (July 2001)

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Ultimate Spider-Man is kind of like Death Wish. The movie, I haven’t read the book. Let me explain.

When Uncle Ben dies, Peter goes after organized crime, since he’s already got the guy who actually did it. And there’s no connection between organized crime and Uncle Ben’s murder. Peter’s just doing it because he thinks it’s bad (organized crime). It’s naive and kind of brilliant on Bendis’s part.

He’s got his….

Oh, the Death Wish thing. When Charles Bronson’s family gets killed, he doesn’t go after their killers, he goes after crime in general.

Anyway.

Bendis has Peter Parker be the narrating protagonist of the comic, but is naive. It’s lovely. He even draws attention to naivety when Kong doesn’t understand he’s upsetting Liz (I’m not saying Bendis made that move intentionally).

It’s a fine issue–reads too fast and the Enforcers appearance isn’t particularly useful–but it’s good.

CREDITS

Meet The Enforcers; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Art Thibert; editors, Brian Smith and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 8 (June 2001)

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So Uncle Ben’s murder doesn’t have a name? Didn’t they give him… oh, right… Anyway, I didn’t realize we were dealing with the Joker or something here. I guess it never occurred to me (in the Lee issues, the burglar exits, Bendis uses him here as a link to the Kingpin).

This issue brings Peter to the Bugle, gets him hired (not as a photographer–also, was Peter fifteen in the originals? I assumed he was sixteen or seventeen). The young age will foul up any romance with Betty Bryant; Bendis doesn’t set it up at all.

Some stuff with the schoolmates, not a lot, more stuff with Mary, again, not a lot.

It’s funny to see what Bendis does and doesn’t spend time on, what doesn’t get a page of panels recounting fifteen to thirty seconds–don’t get me wrong, Aunt May on the phone with Jonah is fantastic.

CREDITS

Working Stiff; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Art Thibert; colorist, JC; letterer, Wes Abbott; editors, Brian Smith and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 7 (May 2001)

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And another half issue. Probably takes about three minutes to read. It’s not like Bagley’s art is something to be examined either, so Bendis and Marvel must have been pretty darn clear about what they were doing with this format. I mean, nothing happens… the fight finishes.

Again, some interesting elements, of course. I mean, the NYPD trying to murder Spider-Man (it’s attempted murder when you try to kill someone right?) is a little shocking; unfortunately, it doesn’t appear Bendis is going to follow up on it at all.

The Peter narration returns (they’re thought balloons, why can’t the thoughts just be in balloons) and there’s a nice wrap-up to the whole issue and event. Bendis tries very hard to give the comic book a cast, which is nice, but I just wish… there was more to it.

These issues are better read without pause in between them.

CREDITS

Secret Identity; writers, Bill Jemas and Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Art Thibert; colorist, JC; letterers, Richard Starkings and Albert Deschesne; editors, Brian Smith and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 6 (April 2001)

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Oh, man, it’s half the best issue so far. Then it stops.

How did people stand reading this comic monthly? It’s so frustrating….

Very amusing is the open at the Bugle, however, with a full Superman: The Movie homage. It immediately softens the reader, maybe so he or she doesn’t realize there isn’t a story, just half a fight scene and a couple narrative details (Spider-Man now has his webbing and Peter quits the basketball team, impressing Mary Jane).

Harry does show up again, for the first time in a while apparently (Bendis is pretty loose with the timeline details–neither Harry nor Peter took any time off school due to family tragedies?), and hints at being very disturbed.

The Goblin’s scary looking, but in a big monstrous sort of way, not an intelligent one… which is another interesting move by Bendis. The smart villain starts out really stupid.

CREDITS

Big Time Super Hero!; writers, Bill Jemas and Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Art Thibert; colorist, JC; letterers, Richard Starkings and Albert Deschesne; editors, Brian Smith and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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