Writer: Warren Ellis
Artists: Tom Raney (p), Scott Hanna (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
I don't know if there was any re-writing going on in the considerable gap between #2 and this issue, but you couldn't ask for a better return after a long hiatus. A briefing room scene reintroduces the plot and core ideas without coming across like a heavy-handed recap, and as the heroes move from a reactive to a proactive stance against the alien invaders, the change in direction serves as a kind of new starting point for the series. Of course, it's so successful a "reboot" that it makes one wonder why they didn't just kick off with this in the first place, but the pacing of this Ultimate Galactus trilogy has never been its strong point.
It's also an excellent issue in its own right, leading me to question what the heck Marvel think they're doing putting the main Ultimates title in the hands of hackmeister supreme Jeph Loeb when Warren Ellis shows here that he could do a much better job, following on from the tone Millar has set, but without aping it. Part of me thinks that a bunch of people facing the imminent extinction of all life on Earth probably shouldn't be joking around and spouting entertaining witticisms, but then again, as Nick Fury suggests later in the issue, the adrenaline rush from such a high stakes game is such that the high spirits aren't that unbelievable. Either way, Ellis' snappy script makes for some great character interactions; the meeting of minds between Reed and Stark is a joy, and Thor's beer-worshipping antics with the Torch and the Thing are the funniest scenes I've read in a superhero comic in a long while.
Tom Raney lends a hand on art to fill in for Steve McNiven who's been off ruining his career illustrating stinkingly bad Bendis scripts, and aside from some truly bizarre mangaesque distortions at a couple of points, I think Raney's a good fit for this title, and the Ultimate titles in general. Certainly better than Joe "I don't get out of bed for less than $1000 and even then Iíll only do half the job" Madureira. Raney does a fine job of characterisation and has no problems in making something visually interesting out of an issue based around lots and lots of dialogue. I have no idea whether it was Raney or McNiven or someone else entirely who designed the Ultimate Kree, but they make for a striking and surprising visual, and Raney does a great job of conveying their alien threat. Iím really looking forward to seeing Raney and Hanna (who, by the way, is the best inker Marvel have right now) draw the big Ultimates versus Kree scrap next issue.
Delays and erratic pacing in the plot had almost completely put me off the Ultimate Galactus storyline, but a fresh art team more to my tastes and some snappy and entertaining scripting from Ellis have reignited my interest, and now I'm quite looking forward to the rest of the story.
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