Schachat's Occasional Breakdown
Schachat is still very very angry about the man
the heck is it with Marvel and weak reveals, lately? Sure,
we can blame Bendis for House of M (“Gasp!
Quicksilver was the one ‘manipulating’ Scarlet
Witch!”) and New Avengers (“Ronin is
Echo? Oh snap! ...wait, who is that?”), but it seems
like their knack for completely uninspiring non-twist anticlimaxes
is becoming the hallmark of the company.
instance, I’m referring to the revelation of the traitor
in Ultimates #9. This is the crux
of the current volume. The big event that changes everything
and will supposedly set the tone for the rest of the Ultimate
Universe. So far, the climax is pretty rocky.
story opens with an interrogation where the not-as-dead-as-we-thought
Hawkeye (as opposed to the totally completely undeniably
dead one being resurrected in the Marvel Universe) has been
pumped for information so that America’s enemies can
to Tony Stark’s apartment, where he and Natasha chat
a little bit, and we get the impression that Natasha’s
up to something. Cut to the Triskelion, where the remaining
Ultimates ponder the strange events of late just before
all the security goes haywire and S.H.I.E.L.D. Heli-Carriers
come crashing into the tower.
back at Tony’s apartment, he finally figures out that
something is wrong, and Natasha whips out a gun, shooting
Jarvis before bidding Tony farewell.
rest of the issue plays out much better, showcasing Quicksilver
and Scarlet Witch (being 100% heroic, for a change) as they
attempt to hold back the armies of super soliders, giant
mecha, and a team of anti-Ultimates. Lots of action and
lots of fighting; this portion of the adventure really showcases
artist Bryan Hitch’s talent.
Still, the reveal
is dull, especially after all the questions raised by the
last half dozen issues. A Russian assassin betraying the
American super-team? Wow, shock of the century, there. Previous
issues had shown Nick Fury nosing around security camera
feeds and Hank Pym showing astonishment when he learned
the traitor’s identity. Thor was taken down and imprisoned,
Captain America was named as a spy... and no one but Quicksilver
thought anything was amiss?
And that brings
us to another big problem: Loki. Before, Mark Millar was
playing a delightful game with us, twisting perspective
back and forth so we could never be sure whether Thor really
was a god or just some grunge rock reject with a hammer.
Now, we know for sure that Loki is real and does in fact
wield reality-altering powers.
that again. *ahem* REALITY-ALTERING POWERS.
she's marrying a guy about to die anyway...
As anyone following
DC or Marvel books should be able to tell you, this is one
of the places continuity headaches start. The other is time
travel, but at least that allows for fights between the
Fantastic Four and Devil Dinosaur.
In any case,
opening either of those doors is basically saying anything
can happen. Something doesn’t make sense? Go back
in time or alter reality to make it work. You want to raise
a character from the dead? Same deal. You want to erase
certain characters and change others’ origins? Lather,
rinse, repeat. It’s a dangerous territory to traverse.
For the most
part, this issue works on the merit of having big explosions
and super-powered armies raining terror on cities. That
alone makes the book worth buying (thanks to Hitch’s
great if oft delayed work). However, Millar has now taken
off the training wheels and decided to let us ride on our
own, and the consequences may not be pretty.
Ultimate Universe ready for an international coalition bent
on the destruction of the American empire? Will this turn
out for the better without a reality reboot? Do we really
want what looks like the latest Red Guardian wielding Darth
Maul’s lightsaber? We’ll have to see...
2: JSA #80