“Ultimate Six: Part 3 of 7”
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Trevor Hairsine (p), Danny Miki (i)
Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin, escaping from a maximum-security stockade along with Electro, the Sandman, Doctor Octopus, and Kraven the Hunter, embarks on a plan to get hold of Peter Parker. Meanwhile, the Ultimates are faced with the nightmare prospect of these five super-charged villains on the loose. Will Peter make six…?
After a more relaxed opening two issues, Bendis is starting to get to the meat of the story here. All elements are present and correct: the heavy yet realistic dialogue, the military approach to what constitutes (in the marvel universe) the ultimate terrorist threat, and the spot-on interpretation of the young Peter Parker caught up in a man’s world of super superheroics… Yes, Spider-Man has finally followed up on the promise of this crossover series and made an appearance. The only story element not followed up is Norman’s ambition expressed at the end of last issue to get hold of Peter, although this is surely going to provide a focus of the following issues: and it isn’t a possibility which has escaped the notice of Nick Fury, whose patience is being tried in both handling the situation and dealing with Peter’s fears. Their exchange proves one of the most heated in the book, ramming home the scale and seriousness of the threat of the Ultimate villains whilst simultaneously showing an excellent handling of the characters established not only in Bendis’ own Ultimate Spider-Man, but also in Mark Millar’s Ultimates title. It is a tribute to the Bendis’ writing that the transition is barely noticeable.
Special mention must also go to the artwork: my lack of familiarity with Hairsine’s work before this series gave me no expectations whatsoever, but he provides an excellent companion to Bryan Hitch’s work on the Ultimates series (and must surely be a contender if and when Hitch is replaced – or at least helped to meet his deadlines), handling the big reveal shots such as the destroyed villains’ holding centre or Peter’s reaction to the Triskelion with high levels of realism and detail, aided by Danny Miki’s precise inks. The only possible complaint is that a couple of headshots of Peter and Nick Fury look a little deformed, but these can be forgiven for the strength of the other character work on display here.
As a perfect compromise between old-school superheroics and the real-world military aspects that Mark Millar so successfully brought to the Ultimates, this miniseries proves consistently exciting. Even when faced with an issue dominated by talking-heads the pace is fast, and what action there is serves to further underline character moments (witness the Wasp’s un-ordered dash towards the attack site on hearing news of Hank Pym’s injury). The cliffhanger, although unclear, suggests that the scale of this series is set to expand even further: promising a battle royale by the time the closing three issues are out.
Four bullets for this issue of a miniseries which hasn’t forgotten that comics can be all-out entertainment, whilst paying heed to character development and recognizing the need for a carefully-crafted and logical plot. Bigger things are surely in store further down the line, and it seems that Bendis and Hairsine are going to be the perfect people to handle them.
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