Ultimate Spider-Man #111 (ADVANCE)


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Ultimate Spider-Man #111 (ADVANCE)


  • Words: Brian Michael Bendis
  • Art: Mark Bagley & Stuart Immonen
  • Inks: Drew Hennessy
  • Colors: Justin Ponsor
  • Story Title: The Talk
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Jul 18, 2007

Mark Bagley bids the Ultimate Spider-Man series goodbye as he draws Brian Michael Bendis’s tale of reconciliation as Peter Parker and Aunt May come to terms with Peter’s secret identity.

Here we have "the talk" as Aunt May and Peter really get a chance to open up about who and what Spider-Man is. It’s exciting to see this story as it is, because it really feels like this is an issue of What If? where we get the answer to "What if Aunt May found out the truth?" Yes, I realize May knows the truth over in the regular universe, but this is while Peter Parker is still finding out who Spider-Man is. Of course, no matter what story Bendis penned, it would play second fiddle to Bagley’s departure.

It’s odd that Bagley would want to share the thunder that is his final issue – that’s final 111th issue – with another artist, but it also speaks volumes to the kind of humble workhorse the artist is. It’s a shame that even after this historic run, he still feels underrated in the comic book realm.

It is interesting to get to see the changing of the guard on display side by side in the same episode, though Immonen’s part of the comic is a bit different. During his few pages in the middle of the book, Bendis changes the format of the story. The result is a couple of pages that have words on the side and wordless pictures on the other side. It works as both a blessing and a curse. On the one side, any readers not familiar with Immonen’s art won’t get the full effect from these pages. I mean, the art is pretty, but what’s it going to look like when there are captions and word balloons all over the place. Bendis isn’t known for keeping a cap on his word count.

Luckily, the art is pretty. But more than that, it also shows the unfamiliar how great Immonen’s art is, as he is able to show an entire action scene without any narration at all. Trust me in that when you see it, you’ll understand how easy it is to follow the panels.

It’s interesting that Bagley would let the new guy handle all the action scenes, and only draw the heart felt heart-to-heart scenes. Interesting, but not odd. One of Bagley’s strengths – and probably his most ignored trait – is the ability to convey Bendis’s emotional epics visually. Many artists can draw the hard-hitting action scenes – Immonen showed his moxie on the criminally canceled Nextwave – but when it comes to the more subtle moments, a lot of artists just can’t deliver. Bagley has never had this problem, and it really shows here. The majority of the book is headshots, and instead of being dull, it enhances Bendis’s script. When you see Peter’s tears streaming down his cheeks, you understand why. And that ability is going to be difficult to replace.

In fact, now that I think of the die-hard devotion to a title, the emotion displayed almost effortlessly, I might even consider Mark Bagley as the closest thing we have to a living, working Jack Kirby. And I can’t think of a higher compliment than that, or one that is more deserved.

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