The Incredible Hulk 49 (March 2003)

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There’s something wrong with this issue and I’m having trouble pinpointing it. Maybe how Jones bookends with what he’s doing next, maybe with how he does a talking Hulk going nuts without any explanation. I can’t believe I’m wanting for exposition, but Jones’s keeping the reader way too far away from what’s going on in Bruce’s head. Especially after an issue like this one.

The design problem remains with the villain; the Immonen and Koblish Hulk make up for it a little, but there aren’t any money shots in this issue. Even the splash page of the transformed Banner is more for mood than it is reader gratification. It’s a dangerous, constantly shifting world. And Jones is just make it more so… and every shift make the characters more distant.

They aren’t just superheroes, they’re corrupt supervillains and the like. Jones has removed the humanity for the sake of narrative.

C+ 

CREDITS

Pratt Fall; writer, Bruce Jones; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Scott Koblish; colorist, Studio F; letterer, Comicraft; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Incredible Hulk 48 (February 2003)

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In one panel, it really looks like Immonen and Koblish are doing an homage to Byrne-style banner. It’s kind of cool, actually.

With the exception of the opening involving some secret agent in a dinky town, this issue is one of the standard Jones talking heads during an action sequence Hulk. It’s a fine enough example of one, where the biggest problem is how Immonen illustrates the villain. He’s full of Hulk blood–thank goodness they were the same type–and he’s mutating. Immonen shows that mutation, but Jones’s dialogue doesn’t recognize it (as a continuing condition anyway). So there’s a big disconnect.

Jones also gets in a big cliffhanger. Will the Hulk be able to save the day? It’s an odd cliffhanger; the one with the least stake in it is Bruce. Jones really needs to work on that failing–Bruce needs to be active, not entirely reactive.

B- 

CREDITS

From Here to Infinity; writer, Bruce Jones; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Scott Koblish; colorist, Studio F; letterers, Richard Starkings and Wes Abbott; editors, John Miesegaes, Warren Simons and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Incredible Hulk 47 (January 2003)

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I don’t know how he did it. Jones made everything mysterious literal and still the comic works. It’s a great explanation, but his presentation–more talking heads, but this time during a road trip (with awkward pauses)–is what sells it. He’s got a frantic pace, with Bruce always in some kind of danger, and the exposition just makes it move quicker.

What Jones also does is reward the reader. He brings up all the big moments he’s been repeating, either in flashback and dream sequence, and he lets the reader figure it out. Or, more accurately, figure out how he told the story.

The art makes it all possible. Immonen and Koblish can switch genres immediately–there’s another great action sequence at the end of this issue–and the story needs it. Bruce Banner is never on firm ground and Jones doesn’t let the reader get comfortable either.

Awesome.

B+ 

CREDITS

Transfer of Power; writer, Bruce Jones; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Scott Koblish; colorist, Studio F; letterers, Richard Starkings and Wes Abbott; editors, John Miesegaes, Warren Simons and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Incredible Hulk 46 (December 2002)

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Jones is bound and determined to confuse. Not only does he make it work this issue, he even makes his returning villain–previously rather lame–engaging. The villain kidnaps Bruce and takes him, inexplicably, to a morgue to investigate the latest murder charges against the good doctor.

On the way, there’s a lot of talking. Jones also employs some flashbacks to heighten to uncanny factor. The villain recaps the previous issue, sort of confirming the reader’s memory to him or herself, and then Jones doesn’t solve it. He’s got this incredible situation–pardon the adjective choice–and he makes it work in the context of the somewhat silly situation (Bond villain organizations) he’s set up.

The finish has a good soft cliffhanger or two and a nice action sequence from Immonen and Koblish. It’s all bad guys–Bruce is an observer; the artists’ skill makes it so good.

Excellent issue.

B+ 

CREDITS

Multiple Organism; writer, Bruce Jones; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Scott Koblish; colorist, Studio F; letterers, Richard Starkings and Wes Abbott; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Incredible Hulk 45 (November 2002)

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About ninety percent of this issue is good. Jones should have spread it out over two parts–Bruce gets hit by a car (but doesn’t Hulk out?) and the lady who hit him takes him in and nurses him back to health. It opens with a text recap reminiscent of the TV show, which is awesome.

Juxtaposed against Bruce’s recovery–he’s really loopy, lots of strange dreams, which Immonen and inker Scott Koblish do well with–is someone crossing the country, encountering various unfortunate people. Sadly, Jones has a reveal at the end and it’s lackluster to say the least.

The confused Bruce thing is fantastic stuff. The lead-up to it is moody and effective. It feels perfect–rainy streets, Bruce Banner all alone with a strange alluring guest star… why Jones has to ruin it with a scene out of The Terminator, I don’t know.

The rest’s awesome.

B 

CREDITS

Remember Me Never; writer, Bruce Jones; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Scott Koblish; colorist, Studio F; letterers, Richard Starkings and Wes Abbott; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Incredible Hulk 44 (October 2002)

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Jones does a familiar ruse but then explains the whole bit, which makes it a lot better than not. His secret organization after Banner is still a tad too Bond and a tad too much. But it’s definitely an amusing issue; he just needs to make Bruce half as interesting as any of the other characters. Even the villain gets to sweat this time.

Oh, and he needs to own his cliffhanger resolutions. One of them gets a followup and Jones dismisses the mystery of it in a matter-of-fact way. While it’s matter-of-fact for the characters, Jones is writing for the reader, isn’t he?

No. No, he’s not. That lack of interest in how the reader perceives things is Jones’s greatest strength and weakness on Hulk. Well, one of his weaknesses–Bruce’s too passive a main character.

Very nice Stuart Immonen art too. The comic entertains.

B- 

CREDITS

Now You See It; writer, Bruce Jones; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Scott Koblish; colorist, Studio F; letterers, Richard Starkings and Wes Abbott; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel 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 133 (June 2009)

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Did Spider-Man and the Hulk crossover a lot in their eighties cartoons? A few times, right? Because there must be some reason Bendis gives so much of this comic to the Hulk. Laziness is another possibility.

Bendis has the ending he wants to do and he’s got to fill the pages until he gets there.

Oh, there’s no talking. There wouldn’t be much anyway, except Kitty Pryde rejecting Jessica Drew. They do team up to save people. Kitty gets to be the star of the last scene (kind of), even though Bendis followed Jessica Drew around the whole issue.

It’s a bad last issue, if it’s supposed to be a last issue. It uses the idea of being a last issue as a gimmick, which shouldn’t be a surprise from Bendis.

Nice work from Immonen though. He approached Bendis’s malarky script with sincerity. Shame he was the only one.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Lauren Sankovitch and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics

Ultimate Spider-Man 132 (May 2009)

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So many pretty double-page spreads, so little story. Bendis has Nightmare–is that Dr. Strange’s villain’s name–torment Peter and the Hulk. There are like four pages wasted on the Hulk fighting off all these random people he killed. It’s not even his comic.

Worse, there’s seemingly endless pages with Peter fighting off his villains, flashing back to Amazing Fantasy #15 in one of Bendis’s neater moments, but… no actual content.

The only content is Kitty revealing to Mary Jane (and Gwen and Kong) she’s still in love with Peter. Right after Mary Jane decks her. Then Kitty leaves, presumably to join the crossover event in some other comic.

It’s an odd misfire, given it’s Spidey versus his rogues gallery. They don’t even talk–it’s like watching the action on mute. Bendis doesn’t give it any personality at all, given Peter’s narration is all fast-paced panic.

Bendis fumbles.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Lauren Sankovitch and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 131 (April 2009)

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It’s another okay enough issue for a tie-in. Sort of. Bendis again hints at much, much better things if he weren’t being so darn cute with the plotting.

He opens at the Bugle–or the Bugle’s emergency newsroom in New Jersey–and it’s a great scene. There’s some stuff with Ben Urich, then Jonah realizing he’s been a jackass about Spider-Man. It’s just a nice panic scene.

The scene between Jessica Drew and May should be a lot better. Bendis is trying too hard to keep his cards close to his chest. It’s sad their two pages of dialogue is the best May has had in quite a few issues.

As for the main storyline–Peter befriending the Hulk and trying to save people? It’s awesome. It’s slight and messy, but it’s still awesome.

Immonen’s art works rather well for the disaster aspect.

Shame it’s just crossover nonsense.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Lauren Sankovitch and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 130 (March 2009)

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It’s a fast-paced crossover mess of a comic book but it’s not terrible. Bendis gives May a couple good scenes–even though she’s sort of Gordon from Dark Knight Returns in how she’s saving people on the street.

There’s a nice moment for Kitty, a hint of a nice moment for Gwen and Mary Jane. What’s so unfortunate about this crossover hitting now is Bendis finally had his ducks in a row. He had all his characters set up for a nice, memorable run of issues–and Immonen had hit his stride with offsetting the teens against the superheroes too. The characters suffer the most from his elongated pacing; Bendis doesn’t respect his characters enough.

Peter gets nothing to do except swing around in a disaster movie and telepathically chat at Professor X. Serious tone or not… it reminds of goofy Marvel crossovers of the past.

It’s a shame.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Lauren Sankovitch and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 129 (February 2009)

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Oh, come on, Bendis… good grief.

So, Bendis finally gets around to giving Peter and Mary Jane an excellent circle of friends to hang out with–Kong, Kitty, Johnny, Gwen–and then it turns out the end is near because this issue is an Ultimatum tie-in. And there’s a great bit with Johnny crushing on Jessica Drew, who’s back in New York for whatever reason.

The issue’s upsetting because, as usual, it does show Bendis can write. Great scenes for Johnny, great ones for Peter and Mary Jane. The school principal freaking about Gwen isn’t so great, but it’s okay. Bendis doesn’t seem to know what to do with May since she’s found out Peter’s Spider-Man.

But where’s it going? Into a crossover event. No good ever comes out of a crossover event and Bendis always takes forever to right his course after the series gets upset.

Bummer.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Lauren Sankovitch and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 128 (January 2009)

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It’s funny how Immonen isn’t very good at fight scenes. It’s like he gets bored with them too fast. Venom versus Carnage, Super Venom, boring. Aunt May pulling a gun on Eddie Brock–awesome.

This issue finishes Bendis bringing Gwen Stacy back to life. Hopefully. She’s fine at the end of the issue, following an entirely unrealistic scene where Tony Stark is able to talk down Director Danvers.

Bendis also returns to Eddie on the park bench. Turns out it was in the future, kind of. Or the present of this issue, which doesn’t work with how the previous issue was set in the present too.

Like I said before, he should stick to his strengths. Aunt May having a gun for protection, strength. Competent multi-layered plotting… oh, come now, Bendis can’t even competently plot when he’s not working in flashbacks.

Hopefully he’ll get the series moving forward again.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Lauren Sankovitch and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 127 (December 2008)

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Oh, come on, Bendis. If you can’t plot a full arc–even when you’re doing a bad one like this arc–don’t do a pad issue, just cut the number of issues down a little.

Here’s what happens this issue. Eddie threatens Peter in the present. He wants the suit back–now, let’s not forget Bendis opened this arc with Eddie having the suit and then got confused in his flashbacks. Peter tries to find Eddie and can’t. Gwen comes to see Peter because she’s got the Carnage face stuck on her body.

There’s the comic. Oh, and apparently Mary Jane isn’t reading for French kissing. Peter should have asked if she ever French kissed Harry, but he doesn’t.

It’s a shame Bendis can’t sustain this book for any length of time anymore. He gets better, then he falls off. Even the Immonen art is padded with artificial panel breaks.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Lauren Sankovitch, Lauren Henry and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 126 (November 2008)

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Why is Bendis making this story arc so confusing? It’s giving me a little headache.

So this issue ends with the Ultimates having the suit and Eddie Brock in the wind. It seems like Bendis has gotten to the present action of the the comic again. But he hasn’t, not unless he forgot about Eddie in the park eating people and telling the story in flashback. We’re still in Eddie’s flashback and Bendis seems to have forgotten.

The guy really should play to his strengths and complicated multi-layered narratives are not his strengths. Good scenes, fun dialogue, occasionally inventive Ultimate versions of characters, those are Bendis’s strengths.

Notice I’m not talking much about the issue’s contents? Because nothing happens except a fight scene and the followup. The followup is Nick Fury talking to Peter and Iron Man asking questions.

Still good Immonen art though. Shame Bendis isn’t matching it.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Lauren Sankovitch, Lauren Henry and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 125 (October 2008)

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I’ll bet the flying guy is Ben Reilly. Maybe. It’d make sense, at least in Ultimate Spider-Man.

Still not getting why Bendis thought he had a story here. Is it an adaptation of the video game or something else? I know the game’s in continuity so is it a sequel? An aside? Does it matter? No, it doesn’t, because Bendis never made Peter getting reattached to the black costume a thing when it obviously should have been a thing.

The whole approach can be filed under “dangers of complicated flashbacks”. It takes place better Kitty, which means before Harry came back, before Nick Fury disappears, but after Gwen died. I’m not reading it and remembering all the clues Bendis put into the series contemporaneously. Because he didn’t.

Even if Bendis didn’t forget he had to tie in to the game, it sure feels like it.

Pointless, but nice art.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Lauren Sankovitch, Lauren Henry, Bill Rosemann and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 124 (September 2008)

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Wait a second, is the the arc Bendis wrote to tie into the “Ultimate Spider-Man” video game? I thought he delayed it for years and years and then finally did it.

He should have waited longer.

So, Eddie Brock is gone as a narrator now, which makes no sense. Eddie’s narration last issue was the present and this issue Bendis is kicking around two flashbacks. First with the Rhino and then Firefly? Or some guy in a Firefly-like suit; he doesn’t have a name yet.

In between fights, Peter–because he’s all of a sudden the lead with no transition–talks to Mary Jane, talks to Nick Fury. Only for exposition though, because it’s all flashback and Bendis doesn’t take any time to texture it. Probably because he forced this arc.

There’s some really nice art from Immonen, particularly during the Firefly chase, but the whole thing’s off.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Lauren Sankovitch, Bill Rosemann and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 123 (August 2008)

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Oh, no, Bendis is going off the rails again. I thought last issue was a fluke, but now it’s a definite thing. This whole issue is Eddie Brock sitting at a park bench, telling people his story, then eating them.

Bendis is demure about the eating thing until the last panel.

Immonen does really good with the art, which makes me think maybe Bendis knew he could branch out more with him on the book but it’s a mistake. It removes Peter from being the center of the book and then you’ve just got Ultimate Spider-Man without its star.

Worse, Silver Sable is back again. Not one of Bendis’s better Ultimate creations. Not as annoying as last time, but only because Eddie’s narrating the thing.

I guess Bendis trying to making Eddie somewhat sympathetic, but he doesn’t at all. Not even with all the sad panels Immonen can muster.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Lauren Sankovitch, Bill Rosemann and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 122 (July 2008)

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Bendis is really building up the Roxxon thing. Just on and on with Roxxon. I’m getting kind of sick of it. It’s his new Green Goblin.

Well, maybe not, but kind of close. It’s way too convenient to have this evil company out there. Bendis is a writer who gets lazy easy and it’s just another crutch.

Worse, he misses the best parts of this issue. The Shocker kidnaps Spider-Man and tortures him. Bendis sticks with the sad Shocker story and not with Mary Jane and Kitty teaming up to save Peter. Oh, he does get some scenes in with them, but Mary Jane disappears all of a sudden once Kitty takes over.

I guess Bendis is trying to do something different, with the sympathetic focus on the villain he’s been mocking for almost the entire series. It’s sort of successful, but not really. It just doesn’t work out.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Lauren Sankovitch, Bill Rosemann and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 121 (June 2008)

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Except for the panel where Immonen draws Peter with so much of a girl face I thought Mary Jane and Kitty were friends–speaking of… I think Immonen even puts Peter in a Hello Kitty t-shirt–it’s a good issue. There’s some great comedy stuff with Flash protesting (without anyone accusing) he isn’t Spider-Man, then a joyous finale for Kitty getting a good grade.

Bendis structures it in flashback. Kitty and Peter’s “take home a baby doll for a while” assignment is due and Peter messed it up. The flashbacks reveal how things all went wrong.

In other words, it’s a done-in-one from Brian Michael Bendis. I didn’t even know he could do these things, certainly not with such grace. Maybe Immonen helped a lot (I do know Bendis can do them, I’m just being hyperbolic).

Great Bugle stuff too.

It’s another good issue of Ultimate.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Lauren Sankovitch, Bill Rosemann and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 120 (May 2008)

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So the Blob is Liz Allen’s dad. There, I spoiled it for you. Now you won’t have Bendis’s sensational tacked on last page about it. Just a terrible, terrible page.

But the rest of the comic is all right. He has a couple false endings, which are definitely annoying, but the whole “mutant hater” Liz turning out to be mutant story does work pretty well.

Not sure why Bendis couldn’t have given Kenny and Kitty a page or two though.

And there’s also the whole bit with Peter and Liz talking about how they’ve known each other forever. Bendis uses that one a lot–he used it last issue with Kenny–but he ever bothers having anyone acknowledge they used to bully Peter mercilessly or stood by while someone did.

It’s a big disconnect.

The X-Men get too much play, but otherwise it’s a fine issue. Problematic but fine.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Lauren Sankovitch, Bill Rosemann and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 119 (April 2008)

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I don’t think I’d ever realized how big Immonen makes Spider-Man’s eyes. It’s kind of annoying. Especially since this issue is a couple big talking heads scenes amid some superhero chase action.

I guess no one wanted to bother with an Ultimate Angelica Jones so Bendis just turned Liz into Firestar. It’s a good issue–great moment with Kenny revealing he knows Peter’s secret identity; actually, Bendis doesn’t have a chance to really let that one sink in. Hopefully it’ll have a nice echo later.

The stuff with Bobby Drake and Liz Allen is really good. Bendis takes too long establishing Peter’s part of the conversation and he heads to a cliffhanger with Magneto just after it becomes about Peter.

The title definitely appears to be changing–and for the better–but it’s hard to tell if Bendis is committed to this change or if he’s treating water again.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Lauren Sankovitch, Bill Rosemann and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 118 (March 2008)

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Seriously, Kenny can’t get a kiss? He gets a hand squeeze from Kitty, but no kiss. Kid deserves some smooching.

As I hoped, being rid of the Osborns has done nothing but help Bendis refocus his efforts. He opens the issue with one page internal monologues from Peter, Mary Jane, Kitty, Liz, Kenny and Johnny Storm (not sure if he’s setting up the new cast or just this arc). Lovely art from Immonen on these pages. He’s really working out.

But then Bendis kicks off this entire high school drama thing with Ice Man showing up to talk to Kitty. They’re these double page layouts of all the characters’ reactions (Peter freaking out, Kenny sulking). It’s beautiful stuff. Bendis really does excel.

And then there’s some nice superhero bonding time for Johnny, Peter and Bobby Drake. It segues into a nighttime beach campfire. Then a big surprise.

Truly excellent issue.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Lauren Sankovitch, Bill Rosemann and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 117 (February 2008)

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Wow. Bendis does half one of his big action issues with Norman going after Harry and there being a big Goblin battle. Peter and SHIELD are there too, with Peter jumping in and out of the action. There’s enough time for him to have a decent moment with Harry too.

But then the issue changes it up. The last four or five pages deal with fallout Bendis has been building since the first arc of the series. It’s strange Bagley didn’t stick around to finish it, but maybe they saw it as a way to establish Immonen as the artist on the series.

Immonen really proves himself in the last, short scene. He’s got a bunch of recognizable people reacting in master shots and he makes it all memorable–Liz, Flash, Kong, Mary Jane, even Kitty in her confusion.

Bendis writes some screwy issues for Ultimate but he excels sometimes.

CREDITS

Death of a Goblin, Part Six; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Lauren Sankovitch, Bill Rosemann and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 116 (January 2008)

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Bendis continues his streak–two issues in a row at least–and Immonen is really settling in. There’s a lot of double page action spreads, lots of panels, with Kitty saving Peter from a fall with Norman. That sequence opens the issue and it’s fantastic.

Even Bendis seems to get Kitty and Peter make a good superhero pair; shame he had to put them through dating. I suppose it does add some texture to their relationship, but not enough for it to matter. He also clarifies some things about Kong, which is nice.

The big surprise is how Bendis handles Norman at the end. He comes in for a great, villainous finale. Except he wants Peter just to point out Norman’s capable of doing good things–creating Spider-Man, for example. It’s strange and unexpected and seeming sincere.

Immonen’s art for that scene is excellent.

It’s a pretty good issue.

CREDITS

Death of a Goblin, Part Five; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Lauren Sankovitch, Bill Rosemann and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 115 (December 2007)

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Peter’s not very smart this issue. I figured out mean old Ultimate Carol Danvers was using him as bait in the first scene. He needed for Kitty to rescue him and for Danvers to explain it all.

Still, good enough issue. Kitty and Peter make a far more amusing superhero partners than they ever did a couple. Danvers is one note, but Bendis gets to write a bunch of good Peter explaining himself to adults dialogue, which always goes over well.

The stuff with Norman terrorizing people isn’t bad either. No thought balloons for Norman on it either–another plus–and Immonen does a great job with the action sequence at the end.

The only bad scene is probably Kong crushing on a totally unaware Kitty. It feels way too forced.

Also forced is the absence of Nick Fury. If it’s such an important plot point, Bendis should’ve established it.

CREDITS

Death of a Goblin, Part Four; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Lauren Sankovitch, Bill Rosemann and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 114 (November 2007)

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As usual, Bendis redeems himself an issue later. He sticks to Peter–Norman doesn’t even get a live appearance; the villain turns out to be Electro (who seems real powerful in his Ultimate version). Sticking to Peter works wonders, as he gets to interact with both Mary Jane and May.

Immonen is a slick artist, but I really do like how he handles Mary Jane’s panic attack. He lets himself get loose to show her utter terror. Then there’s the suburban scene with her mom, which works quite well too.

The stuff with Aunt May’s good, but her man is way too suspicious. He’s Norman’s shrink maybe? Doesn’t matter.

The fight’s good, the cliffhanger’s good. It’s just a good, solid issue, which Bendis has way too much trouble writing. It even manages to overcome being the stalest plot (Norman convincing people he’s the good guy) in Bendis’s bag of tricks.

CREDITS

Death of a Goblin, Part Three; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Lauren Sankovitch, Bill Rosemann and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 113 (November 2007)

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Finally, the Norman Osborn narrated issue no one’s been waiting for….

Someone really should have told Bendis Ultimate Norman is not one of his finest creations, much less an interesting narrator. Especially not with Immonen on the art.

Bagley always drew his stuff in some kind of a vacuum, like there wasn’t other modern comic making going on at the same time. Bagley did what he did. Immonen, intentionally or not, has turned Norman into Dark Knight Returns Joker. And Bendis’s narration fits it too.

It doesn’t work, especially not since lengthy periods go without action. The action Immonen does draw is in little panels, even though they’re big events. He and Bendis are making it as personal and quiet as possible and who wants to read that comic starring Norman.

The arc’s premise–Norman versus Fury–would be far more compelling if Bendis hadn’t just done it with Otto.

CREDITS

Death of a Goblin, Part Two; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, John Barber, Bill Rosemann and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 112 (October 2007)

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Immonen takes over the full issue and, wow, it’s definitely pretty. Wade von Grawbadger’s inks undoubtedly have something to do with it, but Immonen’s style pretty clearly separates the high school life of Peter Parker and the superhero life of Spider-Man.

The superhero stuff is more grand, the high school stuff more manic. There’s crossover, of course, with Kitty getting herself a new superhero costume.

The new status quo–Kitty a superhero, going to Peter and Mary Jane’s high school–actually gives Bendis something to do here. There’s some great tension between Mary Jane and Kitty, not to mention Kong finally turning into that nice guy Bendis has been hinting at forever. It’s a little trite, but it’s high school after all.

Norman Osborn is tiring. Hopefully, given the title of the arc, he’ll just go away and Bendis can stop dragging him out for guest appearances.

Probably not.

CREDITS

Death of a Goblin, Part One; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Stuart Immonen; inker, Wade von Grawbadger; colorist, Justin Ponsor; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, John Barber, Bill Rosemann and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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