Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Mark Brooks (p), Jamie Mendoza and Scott Hanna (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
"It was a slap in the face how quickly I was replaced"
Before I get started on the review I have to mention that I love the idea of annuals, and it's nice to see this summer tradition being brought back as a single, extra-sized story, rather than the cash grab "Secret Files" that we get over at DC. I also love the idea that the stories being offered up in these Ultimate annuals are by in large done-in-one stories, as while there are elements of the story that are more rewarding if one is a regular reader of the monthly series, I could easily see my younger self passing time in the back seat of the family car reading about Peter's first date with Kitty as the family made our way to that summer's vacation destination of choice. Yes, you read that right in the aftermath of his break-up with Mary Jane, Peter has found himself a new girlfriend who goes by the name Kitty Pryde. Now I don't see this developing into anything beyond a good friendship, and there are moments in this issue where it's clear Peter's still hung up on Mary Jane, but Brian Michael Bendis does deserve credit for developing this new relationship in such a manner that it manages to sell the illusion that Peter could be perfectly happy in a relationship with Kitty. Plus, if nothing else here's hoping that this plot thread manages to find its way into the pages of both titles, as it would form a fun connecting element between Spider-Man's world and the X-Men.
"So bounce, bounce, bounce"
I have to say that Brian Michael Bends deserves the highest praise for simply coming up with the idea of pairing Peter Parker and Kitty Pryde, as the more I think about it the more these two feel like the perfect couple. I mean all the anguish that Peter feels about his costumed life endangering the people he cares becomes a non-issue with Kitty, as not only can she take care of herself if a super-villain came looking for her, but she also can join him on his adventures and as we see during this issue's encounter with the Shocker make Spider-Man's life considerably easier. However, the convenience factor is only a small part of why it's easy to see these two being quite happy together, as Brian Michael Bendis does a lovely job of playing up the idea that Peter and Kitty share pretty much the same personality. I mean this annual does a lovely building Kitty into the ideal partner for Peter, with the phone call scene showing readers what Brian Michael Bendis does best, as the awkwardness of this conversation is wonderfully realized. In fact the issue is full of great character moments from the conversation that Kitty has with Jean about phoning him, to the final rushed conversation between Peter and Kitty at their date ends. A very enjoyable story, and I can't wait for the follow-up in the pages of both titles.
"Even in the Ultimate Universe, Charlie Weiderman couldn't catch a break"
Mark Brooks has a style that managed to win me over as the story progressed, as when I first opened the book I was a little disappointed that Mark Bagley wasn't providing the art, as I was telling myself that if any artist could've pulled it off it would be the workhorse, Mark Bagley. However, while it took me a while to adjust to the different visual style, I have to say that as the issue progressed I started to notice how solid a job Mark Brooks was doing when it came to the facial expressions of these characters. I mean how can one not love how the art sells the parrellel lives of Kitty and Peter, as both characters find themselves isolated from the shiny happy people around them. The art also does a lovely job on the main talking head scene as Kitty phones Peter up, with Kitty's varied expressions being the visuals that sell the endearing quality of this conversation. The action scenes are also well presented as the charging Rhino made for an exciting visual to introduce readers to Spider-Man's world, and how can one not love the expression on the Shocker's face after Kitty phased through his gauntlets.
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