Current Reviews


Ultimate Spider-Man #78

Posted: Tuesday, June 21, 2005
By: Jason Cornwell


Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Mark Bagley
Inks: Scott Hanna
Colors: J.D. Smith
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Publisher: Marvel Comics
$2.99 U.S. / $4.25 CAN

As Mary Jane struggles to deal with the fact that she was dumped, we see her friends decide the best cure is to get her back in the dating game, and we see that a handsome, almost too good to be true senior has made it clear that he's interested in seeing her. However, while MJ does agree to go out on a date with this young man we see her thoughts are still occupied by Peter, and she makes this quite clear before things can go to far with her new friend.

Brian Michael Bendis doesn't exactly do himself any favours by offering up a plot-by-numbers issue, as anyone who has ever sat through any romantic comedy/drama over the past hundred-plus years is going to be able to see where this one is going. I mean this story pretty much picks up in mid-story as we see our two romantic leads have been sent their separate ways and from stage left we have a character who enters the story who looks to be the perfect replacement. However in the entire history of such romances the other guy never gets the girl, and as such it was rather difficult to be all that surprised when Brian Michael Bendis has Mary Jane decide that she's going to stick with Peter. Now I guess things could get interesting when the Peter's new girlfriend enters the picture (I'm guessing it's Kitty Pryde), as Mary Jane will find it difficult to keep the torch burning when she discovers that Peter looks to have moved on, but even with this looming crisis I have to say I found this issue to be a little too willing to follow a well worn path, as we see the dark, handsome romantic rival enters the story, and looks ready to walk away with Peter's girl. The story also suffered from the simple fact that the new guy really wasn't all that interesting, as he felt more like a storytelling prop rather than a real character. Still I will concede that it was nice to see Mary Jane being called upon to carry the issue, as Brian Michael Bendis has made the character more than worthy of this attention, and I did feel her final speech where she reaffirms her devotion to Peter was nicely expressed. There was also a cute little opening exchange in the food court where we see Flash Thompson manages to amusingly bundle an effort to hook up his friend with the newly unattached MJ. I also have to say that I'm becoming rather fond of Kong, as the character is quickly emerging as one of the more entertaining additions that Brian Michael Bendis has made to the Spider-Man universe. Also while it was a rather awkward moment, it was nice to see Will Eisner get a nice little tribute in these pages.

Mark Bagley is given yet another issue where he's called upon to deliver twenty-two pages of talking heads, but he's become quite good at keeping stories like this one visually engaging, as while his range of facial expression isn't as varied as Kevin Maguire, Mark Bagley is quickly moving up the list. I mean the issue opens with a lovely little sequence when we see Liz visits MJ in the bathroom, and how can one not love the awkward expressions that we see on Liz's face as she struggles to play the role of the understanding friend. There's also a nice establishing shot where he offers up a food court that is jammed packed full of teens, and I enjoyed the idea that all the characters in this panel are doing something beyond simply standing around like immobile background elements. It was also nice to get a cover image that actually conveyed some sense of what readers should expect to find inside.

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