Ultimate Spider-Man #73


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Ultimate Spider-Man #73


  • Words: Brian Michael Bendis
  • Art: Mark Bagley
  • Inks: Scott Hanna
  • Colors: J.D. Smith
  • Story Title: Hobgoblin: Part 2
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.25
  • Release Date: Mar 2, 2005

Bendis takes us back in time to show where Harry Osborn has been since the events of the Ultimate Six mini-series.

Harry Osborn has had it rough for a rich kid. His father, Norman Osborn, is a psychopath who turned himself into a monster and murdered countless people. One of those people was Harry’s mother. He was shipped away from his friends and school. He’s been under psychiatric treatment (hypnotherapy) to help him repress a lot of bad things. And then he found out his best friend stole his girlfriend. Now he’s trying to cope with the secrets of his family.

If you’ve ever read one of my reviews, you know it’s no secret that Brian Bendis is one of my favorite writers. I have a difficult time reviewing his books because in the end every review seems to come to the same conclusion: Bendis is great, this series is the cat’s pajamas, and I can’t wait for more, blah, blah, blah…but I’ve found a few points of contention with this issue.

First and foremost is the writer’s penchant for non-linear storytelling. Much of the time when Bendis uses this gimmick, it serves a clear, non-interruptive purpose. However, by the end of this issue I felt a little cheated. The issue--plot, characterization, dialogue (more on this in a moment), and pace--were all pretty well done, as I’ve come to expect. What I don’t get is why this issue needed to come after last issue instead of before it. Especially when this issue ends on such an ominous moment; one that gives me the feeling we won’t see any resolution to the previous issue’s cliffhanger until at least the middle of the next.

The other thing is small, but I’ve noticed that as of the last year or so Bendis has a slightly annoying overuse of parenthetical phrasing within the confines of his dialogue. I see it more with this series than any of the other thirty or so he currently writes, and I just don’t see the need for it. Sure, it’s not bad to see it once every five or more issues, but it seems to happen at least once per issue in Ultimate Spider-Man lately. I suppose it is because Bendis’ dialogue is so thoroughly engaging to me that I’m jarred out of the story momentarily by the inclusion of this enigmatic bit of writing.

I also shower Mark Bagley with praise every time I review this book. I can honestly say that I don’t have a single negative thing to say about his work, though--believe me, I’ve looked, there’s nothing. He manages detail and character expression with the best of them. There isn’t a lot of action this issue, but what little there is shows the proof that he’s a master. Usually, to me, an inker is an inker is an inker. Same goes for colorists. I can’t really say that J.D. Smith is blowing me away with his colors, but that has nothing to do with his level of competence. It’s actually what I expect. Hanna, on the other hand, is adding a tinge of darkness to Bagley’s pencils that serves the script (and art) quite well.

Despite a few personal hitches, Ultimate Spider-Man is still one of my favorite monthly titles. There is always a feeling of freshness to the series even though all the characters are decades old. Retelling the Spider-Man mythos for a younger crowd can’t be as easy as Bendis and Bagley are making it look.

-Kert McAfee

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