Ultimate Spider-Man #71
Quick Rating: Great
Title: Strange Part Two
With Spider-Man trapped in his own nightmares, only Dr. Strange can save him.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Mark Bagley
Inks: Scott Hanna
Colors: J.D. Smith
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Cover Art: Mark Bagley
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Last issue, Peter took Mary Jane on their long-planned fancy date… or so he thought. It turned out that he was trapped in a nightmare state created by a demon luring in the young Dr. Strange. Now, trapped in his own worst fears, Spider-Man is out of the picture, and Strange has to save him, in order to save the world.
It was a good move of Bendis to take time out for three two-issue “guest star” arcs, and this is easily the strongest of the three. Peter himself doesn’t really do much in this issue, but the tour of his nightmares casts a lot of light on the character. Strange, meanwhile, is a revelation. We’re so used to seeing the mainstream Marvel Dr. Strange, the cool, experienced sorcerer ready for any situation. This is totally different – it’s that experienced sorcerer’s son, and he’s still learning the ropes. When’s the last time you had to watch Dr. Strange look up a spell?
Also, unlike those other two arcs, this is one that looks like it’s going to have a lasting impact on the title. Peter is hurt this issue, scarred deeply in his soul, and it’s not a wound that will quickly heal.
Bagley, Hanna and Smith really outdo themselves with the artwork on this issue. I’m not sure exactly how they do it, but at one point the artwork in the nightmare sequences does a total shift to a bizarre, dreamlike state unlike anything else we’ve ever seen this title. It sets the darkness apart, and it works perfectly.
The short arcs were a welcome respite from the long – sometimes overly-long – series that usually dominate this title, but now that we’re charged up, I think we can handle a longer story again. Next issue: the Hobgoblin.
This should be interesting.