Rating: 2.5/5 – A Sad Start to an Ultimate End.
by ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.
In 2000, Marvel’s Ultimate Universe was created. Ultimate Spider-Man kicked it all off with the creative team of Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley. For over one-hundred issues they made that title one of the most consistently fun and fresh books on the stands that put characterization first and super-heroics second. The success of that title led to Ultimate X-Men and the even more popular Ultimates series. The Ultimate Universe became what the original Universe wanted to be, a tight and cohesive continuity that at the same time was also new and exciting. Ultimately that success waned while the original Universe thrived, and now fifteen years later it’s all coming to an end by the creative team that started it all.
Unfortunately, the end of the Ultimate Universe is off to a messy, confusing and disappointing start. Although this title is clearly marketed as part of the main Secret Wars event, except for a last page ending and a throw away line halfway through the book, you’d never know it. In fact, after reading this first issue I’m not so clear on just who or what version of the characters I saw! After a quick opening with the Punisher that felt unnecessary, we see Spider-Man swinging through the city. I take it that it’s the Peter Parker version of Spider-Man, but in the Ultimate Universe, but I’m not really sure. Then we see Nick Fury and a huge cast of characters that are from both the Ultimate Universe and well, another Marvel Universe that I don’t think can be the 616. It’s never really clear, but what is clear is that they are on Battleworld, as Nick Fury makes a mention of Doom. So why is Cyclops in his “Phoenix” costume that we saw leading up to the creation of Battlworld? Why is there a different version of Iron Man that isn’t the Superior one?
Bendis may reveal a lot of these answers in subsequent issues, but for a reader that’s been following Secret Wars so far, I’m not sure what happened or who’s who in this first issue. Artist Mark Bagley does his best with the huge cast of characters and delivers an impressive opening splash page that showcases at least forty characters, but the art is never enough to clear up the confusion. New and long-time fans of the Ultimate Universe will be left scratching their heads on just where this story fits into the bigger picture. I’m hoping that Bendis has a plan to have this all make sense by the end, but I may not stick around around to see it. This first issue has little to do with the main Secret Wars event, and if future issues read like this one, it will truly be a sad finish to a once brilliant and promising line of titles.
Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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