Current Reviews


Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #1

Posted: Friday, August 19, 2005
By: Shawn Hill

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Mark Brooks (p), Jaime Mendoza and Scott Hanna (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot: Two star-crossed kids are bored and annoyed with how serious their lives have become. All they want is to have a little fun, without hurting anyone. Is that too much to ask? Not if you’re smart like these two.

Comments: I’d forgotten that Bendis could write a front to back, completely charming and lightweight (in the best way) issue. It’s been so long, through so much (overwrought) doom, gloom and pain.

This is a talking heads issue with schematically placed moments of action, and it’s every bit as good as the Runaways-type issue it resembles. Bendis has fun with his dialogue, without all his usual four-letter mannerisms, capturing cadences for Kitty and Peter that sound like them and no one else. The parallel scenes before they meet are beyond obvious, but they work despite the visible structure. This may be plotting 101, but it’s not a problem when the dialogue is this good, and when the plot both builds on the past and leads somewhere new. Morrison uses the simplest of shapes to tell his deep tales, too. The Ultimate universe is seeming very cohesive this month, with Vaughan borrowing Ultimate Wanda for his X-men tale, and Bendis building on an earlier X-men meeting to give Peter a good day for a change (not to mention everybody staring at the Triskelion and cursing Nick Fury). But not just a good day, a
good night and what’s more a good first date!

Yeah, as the cover reveals, Kitty’s the new girl in his life, and that she’s the one that initiates things is appropriate to both characters. They are, in one way, too similar for this chemistry to work, but who’s to say likes don’t attract? There are no big guffaws but several funny moments along the way, and not just in the conversational sallies. Bendis has always been one to trust his artist, and he gives the talented Brooks a lot of wordless panels to just clue us in to these two young people’s private lives. Brooks even makes the computer scenes interesting, no mean feat.

Visual flair: Brooks aids Bendis in his goal of a fun flirtation between two gifted crazy kids by echoing Miyazawa’s work on Mary Jane, not a bad thing for an Ultimate title about teens. The art is charming, informative, playful, full of character cues and sexy without being pandering. What do you get when you mix a far-too responsible kid with a girl who’s equally blessed and cursed with exceptional traits? The most charming love story of the summer.

How did a book get to 81 issues with only one Annual, anyway?

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