writer: Mark Millar
artist: Bryan Hitch
issue of The Ultimates left us with a great heaping
helping of cliffhanger as Bruce Banner was thrown out of a
chopper towards the Chitauri forces below. Frikkin' awesome.
nigh double-sized continues with the screaming Banner plummeting
toward the Earth, hulking out just before impact and tearing
through the ranks of the alien army. Spotting Captain America
in the fray, Hulk immediately grabs him and prepares to SMASH,
but Cap knows enough about the green guy's mindset now to
direct his attention to Kleiser, the shape-changing Chitauri
who's proven himself impervious to all Cap's attacks thus
the ability to shape-shift into a pair of slacks, he is wandering
around in the buff, so Cap points out to Hulk that this is
because Kleiser was, apparently, giving Betty Ross a bit more
than the time of day while Banner was in solitary confinement.
Naturally, Hulk no like, and he proceeds to beat Kleiser into
a fine paste.
we shift to Wasp and Black Widow trying to disarm the bomb
that's about to turn Earth into a fine cloud of kitty litter
in orbit around the moon. Widow finally realizes they need
Tony Stark to quit flying around and use his computer genius
to save the day, and Stark proves to be an even keener mind
by suggesting they just have Thor teleport the thing into
another reality. Widow, for some reason, still seems to doubt
Thor's powers and gives us an earful, but, naturally, Thor
saves the day, while Hulk finishes gnawing on Kleiser's bones
just in time for Cap to tell him all the Chitauri ships floating
overhead are piloted by a bunch of guys who called Hulk queer,
and Hulk proceeds to create the world's largest scrapyard.
finally wraps with a party at the White House, Wasp and Giant
Man's relationship almost totally dissolved and Nick Fury
grinning like a schmuck at the prospect of Cap finally getting
to say they really ended Volume One with a whimper. Most people
may disagree with that statement, especially when considering
the slow pace and slow release schedule so much of the volume
had, but it definitely feels like our big climactic moments
came in the last issue. Is Thor going to be able to teleport
the bomb away? Well, duh! Even if it IS Ultimate Thor,
there are no doubts there. More so, since it's the end of
Volume One and we know Volume Two's just around the corner
(actually, a long long corner far away - Derek), it's
obvious that they're going to win once Hulk crashes onto the
scene, so most of the suspense relies on the action alone,
which doesn't quite live up to the visceral pleasure of the
last issue (though it's hard to think of much topping Thor's
chain lightning raking through the Chitauri fleet).
reading the entire volume as one story will give this issue
more strength, but after the… my God… five month wait since
the last issue, I wanted to see some serious, unrelenting
beating of ass, not the constant back and forth chattering,
heavy exposition, and endless hand-holding that makes the
dialogue a chore to read (especially when you'd much rather
absorb Bryan Hitch's art than Mark Millar's prattle). Maybe
I'm still a tad bitter that he changed The Authority
from the ultimate power fantasy into cheap shock theater,
but Millar's approach to storytelling just can't compete with
Hitch's eye-popping visuals.
what it feels like, at times: a competition. Millar does a
fine job in the world of soap-opera superhero comics, but,
when combined with Hitch's widescreen aesthetics, there seems
to be a constant struggle going on between word and image,
rather than a collaboration. Millar's usually smarter than
this, letting Hitch's artwork often stand unblemished in a
number of issues of The Ultimates.
however, Millar's incapable of going half a page without adding
some superfluous dialogue (with the notable exceptions of
the two page "Hulk-out" spread and the full page "end of battle"
shot. Heck, I'll also throw in Hulk's pummeling of Kleiser,
since he really doesn't say more than "Shut up! Shut up! Shut
up! Shut up!" for a full page). Flooding a panel with dialogue
isn't necessarily a bad thing, but comics need to move past
the days of characters fitting entire sonnets in between punches,
and since The Ultimates has been touted as the next
step in the action-packed superhero genre, I think it goes
there's the general quality of the dialogue. A great writer
who I can't remember enough to properly attribute a quote
to, so I'll just say it was Bendis to make the fanboys happy…
anyway, Bendis probably might have said that there are a lot
of times, when writing, that you think of a perfect gag to
put in a scene, and you often have to drop that gag because
it kills the flow of the story. This is a lesson Millar could
stand to learn, since so much of his writing seems based upon
the notion of inserting random and, usually, raunchy jokes
and gags into the middle of a scene. When it works, it's hysterical
("Hulk want Freddie Prinze Junior!" and "You think this letter
on my head stands for FRANCE?" readily come to mind), but
the constant babbling and desperate grabs for a laugh such
writing entails drag the whole book down.
there are Millar's penchants for occasional toilet humor and
hyper-sexualizing female characters. I'm not saying that Betty
Ross getting turned on by the fact that Bruce Banner ate another
man while he was Hulk is too offensive for comics, but how
can you look at that character without cringing from now on?
And all for a gag? Bad choice, Mark.
the issue wasn't bad, but it certainly wasn't the big ending
I was hoping for. Killing off an Ultimate could have been
fun, or just letting Hitch go completely wild with the Hulk
rampage might have sated my hunger for sweet, delicious violence,
but this wrap-up was just a bit too much like the way Millar
closed his run on Ultimate X-Men: a "favorite son"
has left the team, they have a big party, a previously dismissed
romance seems to be heating up, Nick Fury's strutting around
like he owns the place and we find the team's nemesis sealed
in an inescapable plastic prison (though one significantly
different from Magneto's hanging cube).
horrible ending, but not the "frikkin' awesome" of the last