ďUltimate Six Part 5Ē
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Trevor Hairsine (p), Danny Miki (i)
Peter has been snatched by the Ultimate Five and The Triskelion is in disarray after their attack. Nick Fury is not happy, but heís going to have bigger problems to deal with by the time Norman Osborn has mobilized his band of villains into actionÖ
Up until now, this miniseries had been presenting a mixture of real-world politics and Ultimates-style action that was intriguing and exhilarating in equal measure. Bendis slows it down a little this issue, giving his characters real time to live and breathe. The depiction of Nick Fury as a angry, ragged, yet flawed general is spot-on: and his frustrated exchange with Captain America, who has realized that the sides are not as clearly drawn as he is used to, is an excellent exploration of the national morality that we have to question in periods of war. Itís a reasonably subtle reference to what is going on in the world today, and itís nice to see that Bendis isnít afraid to insert some provoking political ideas into what would otherwise be a simple large-scale superhero and villain battle.
Spider-Man is also getting his belated chance to shine in this series. Whilst I donít read Ultimate Spidey (I know, I know, shoot me, Iím stuck in old continuity), this is definitely the Spider-Man we know and love. His confrontation with Osborn is reminiscent of classic Spidey/Goblin showdowns, made even more sinister by the repeated assertion that Peter is a kind of surrogate son for Norman, infusing Osborn with a real menace that he isnít afraid to back up with death threats on Peterís loved ones. Iím eager to find out what Osbornís master-plan concerning Nick Fury is, but Iím happy to wait for this all to play out. Thereís an interesting fracturing of the super-villain groupís dynamic in this issue too, as we see that there are clear tensions between Kraven, Norman and Doctor Octopus Ė an element which seems likely to play a part in their likely defeat.
As for the art, Hairsine continues to deliver solid visuals this time round, portraying big moments like the arrival of the Ultimateís fleet in this issueís closing pages with slightly more panache than the subtle character moments, but maintaining a strong grip on the atmosphere of each individual scene throughout. Itís a nice comproise between Bryan Hitchís super-detailed military style in The Ultimates and Mark Bagleyís exuberant and colourful work in Ultimate Spider-Man, which helps to enforce to joint universe of these two series. And whilst I havenít been over-enthused with John Cassadayís covers, I have to admit to enjoying the device of showcasing each villainís powers with every issue.
There are a few problems this issue: Plot-wise, you have to ask why Fury isnít sweeping in to protect Mary Jane Watson as he did Aunt May, but I guess that may be forgiven providing more comes from that direction (and a minor niggle, but itíd be nice if they could sort out the confusion between Osborn and Doc Ock on the recap page). But overall, this is classy, well-written, beautiful-looking stuff. Every month Iím excited to see where this title is going next, and I think that is tribute enough to the quality of the work being done here.
Building up to the climactic final two issues of this series, this installment serves as an excellent appetizer for what will doubtless be the mother of all battles on the White House lawn. My own personal interest lies in seeing where and how the various political strands tie into the main plot, but Bendis is a trustworthy man for the job. And even without the intrigue, itís bound to be a fantastic clash of powers. And whatís the significance of Peterís bag?
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