Most comics, especially from Marvel and DC, run in 5-7 issue arcs so that they can be easily converted into trade paperbacks and re-sold in bookstores and the like. However, some, and it’s never that easy to tell which ones will and which ones won’t, just tell an ongoing story and you never know when there will be a designated break in the action. Therefore, I’m going to start reviewing some of these series that I’ve been waiting for a break that never seem to come.
This doesn’t happen to be one of them, therefore, here’s my take on the first six issues of All-New Ultimates, part of Marvel’s reboot-of-sorts for their Ultimate Universe.
I have a love/hate relationship with the Ultimates. I adored the first run, the second, not as much and it went downhill from there. When Marvel decided to completely revamp their Ultimate Universe (I still think they should have just ended it and rolled some of it into their mainline 616 universe), I figured I’d give it another chance. After all, I do like some of the characters that they’ve got in their new Ultimates, I do like Miles Morales as Spider-Man, I do like Cloak and Dagger and since I know that Kitty Pryde will be getting involved, I figured that was enough to sign on for a while. Plus, these aren’t the well-funded Ultimates that we’ve seen in the past, these are street-level kids without any kind of government support, just trying to do their best to protect people from thugs. That’s a pretty good sounding book if I say so myself.
Following the near end of the world, the disbanding of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the death of a lot of the original Ultimates, Spider-Man, Cloak and Dagger, Bombshell, Black Widow (the former Spider-Woman) and a reluctant Kitty Pryde have teamed up to keep the streets of Hell’s Kitchen safe. A new gang, the Serpent Skulls, have taken up residence in former Roxxon territory, dealing deadly drugs on the streets that have strange side effects.
For an introductory story, this one really comes off a little weak, although granted, coming on the heels of the Galactus story, pretty much anything would seem a little weak. However, there is a lot of emotional trauma that works into this first story that frankly is a bit early because there isn’t any emotional attachment to the characters. Bombshell’s drug-dealer boyfriend gets killed by the Serpent Skulls and I didn’t really find myself caring all that much. We knew him for a couple of issues, what difference does it make? The writing is kind of stiff as well, I don’t really feel the “voices” of these characters, I don’t think Michael Fiffe really has them down well and as for the art, while there are moments of brilliance, there’s a lot of really bizarre poses as well from Amilcar Pinna. Pinna has some problems with some really dull expressions and odd head tilts that just do not impress. It just doesn’t feel like a great end product when the two are tied together. This is especially evident when, in issue #4, we get a swimsuit issue where all of the female characters get together, put on skimpy swimsuits and talk about sex. That’s pretty much all they do, you don’t even get that much good character moments. Sure, Jessica, or Black Widow, reveals that she’s a Peter Parker clone and that, because she’s a male brain in a female body, now she’s a lesbian with the hots for Kitty Pryde. Um… sure. That’s not really how it works but whatever.
This is really a shame because I really, really wanted to like this book but the mix of really substandard art and terribly unconvincing story has left me wondering why I wasted my time reading six issues. Maybe it could have improved over time, but apparently lots of people agree with me because this book is cancelled, effective in January. It just wasn’t good enough to survive and I’m thinking that’s a good thing.
Sorry, it should have been better, it just wasn’t.