Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #3 Review

Written by Brian Bendis
Art by David Lafuente

Mary Jane wants to have sex with Peter, but doesn't know if she's ready. We have an issue full of awkward talk as Peter tries to figure out why MJ's acting weird around him now. Mysterio shows up in his Jurgens' / Clone Saga era-style costume. There's some fishbowl jokes. Good times had by all.

So, first up, because it's my favourite topic, let's talk about the good stuff - sex. For all the hype around whether or not they 'do it' in this issue, there was very little actual story to back it up. We have a few opening pages of MJ sorta, maybe, trying to talk to Peter about sex followed by an abrupt scene change, which was a problem throughout most of the issue.

Mary Jane spends the rest of the issue giving Peter the coldshoulder and acting funny around him until Jessica Jones starts making a fuss about Spider-Man and wanting to find out who he is for the school news team. The sex talk gets sidetracked as she and Peter have some very fun dialogue that goes back and forth around their problems as they discuss the current Mysterio bank robberies.

Lafuente's art during this scene, and the entire issue, for that matter, shows off some great expressions and I'm all for seeing more of his work in the future and wouldn't mind seeing him on Ultimate Spider-Man for fill-ins or other one-shots.

However, after some fill-in-the-blanks style dialogue with the police department about the Mysterio case, there's a sudden leap in logic and jarring shift, unless I'm missing pages, as Peter goes from not knowing anything about Mysterio to knowing one of the police officers is working with Mysterio and follows said cop to Mysterio's base and confronts him. It's like, one page we see MJ declaring she'll solve the case and the next Peter is in Mysterio's base and it's all thanks to MJ's Nancy Drew detective skills somehow. A page or two explaining the sudden shift would have been nice.

The Mysterio fight, if you could call it that, shows Mysterio has more to him than some simple tricks as he seemingly, and this could be a trick, I suppose, manhandles Spider-Man and delivers him an ultimatum that he'll face him when he's good and ready. It was a good introduction to the ultimate version and it shows some promise over other recent re-imaginings by Bendis.

Finally, the story wrapped up where it began, with more sex talk between Peter and MJ. It's finally explained that MJ is just upset with herself for putting the whole talk of sex out there while not actually being ready to follow through with it and she's upset with herself for thinking Peter might leave her like what happened earlier in the series when the same thing occured between Flash and Liz Allen. Obviously, the two make up in a tender moment and the sex talk has been curtailed for another time.

Personally, I found the topic was handled quite well and, while a predictable ending, the journey was far more interesting than I thought it would be. My biggest beef is with the Mysterio mystery that seemed tacked on and only served to disrupt the flow of the entire issue and distracted us from the actual focus of the story.

Verdict - Check It. Great job dealing with the teenage sex talk, but the various subplots of the book all feel disjoint and lack any cohesion, giving the book a jarring and disconnected feeling. Trim this down to the important parts and it would have been a picture perfect book.

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