There seems to be a lot of noise emanating from talk radio, cable news pundits and -- of course -- Internet forums and social media about something that was revealed in this latest issue of Ultimate Fallout. Hell, there was talk and judgment of the story two days before the issue was sitting on the New Releases shelf at your local comic shop. Now, I'm not 100% certain what all the hoopla is about, but maybe the massive audience that Marvel's Ultimate Universe brings in and those wonderful folks over on Marvel's forums may see something that I missed.
The past three issues of this mini-series have been dealing with the -- for lack of a better word -- fallout from the death of Spider-Man and the government's hunt for all mutants. In issue #1, we saw Aunt May, Gwen Stacy, Mary-Jane Watson and Nick Fury all dealing Peter Parker's death. In issue #2, Aunt May slapped Captain America, Thor had a strange dream and Rogue was crying in a diner. Issue #3 brought Tony Stark to the Kratos Club, Kitty Pryde swearing off using her mutant powers and the Hulk being controlled by S.H.I.E.L.D. via Karen Grant, with Nick Fury pulling the strings. A lot is happening in the Ultimate Universe -- my succinct descriptions don't do the issues justice -- and it is all coming forth in the wake of the universe's greatest hero falling.
Up from the ashes, a new hero rises, but unfortunately he rises in terrible taste. The first story opens in New York City on everyone's favorite forgotten villain, the Kangaroo. Now out of prison, he throws a man who owes him his cut of their last job only to be foiled by... some kid in a Spider-Man costume.
One of the wonderful things about Brian Michael Bendis' Ultimate Spider-Man run was the wit and humor he brought back to your friendly neighborhood wall-crawler. In just seven pages, Bendis had me chuckling to myself quite a bit. You can tell right away that the new Spider-Man is still getting used to his arachnid powers, but also trying to be the Spider-Man that the city lost. Unfortunately, it comes to no avail. When he appears on the scene in the red-and-blue Spidey suit, the man whom he is trying to save tells him, "Yeah, man, that is in terrible taste." As he's thrown around the neighborhood, all he hears from the public is that he's wearing that costume a little too soon. This is Bendis' way of letting us all know that this new Spider-Man will return in his own series with a new suit, but we laugh at it all the same. In the final panel, we see our new hero unmask and, in one short, funny line, realize that he may need to be his own Spider-Man.
I also have to say that I am now a fan of Sara Pichelli's art, with Justin Ponsor on colors. If there's one thing that this story has proved, this trio is going to bring some great stories out of their new hero. I don't recall seeing Pichelli's art before, but I will now be on the lookout for it. I'm sure her art will not be limited to Spidey -- or the Ultimate Universe -- as she goes on.
The second piece, by Jonathan Hickman, takes place in the Negative Zone, after Reed Richards' defeat by his once-friends. The scene is all told in narration by Reed, leading up to a reveal of him with a new team and a warning that many of them are "not going to make it." I found this story somewhat odd -- as someone who is not extremely well-versed in the Ultimate Universe, I found myself not caring too much about this story. There are certain comics where one could say that I'm not the audience that this book is trying to reach, but as a comic that is designed to capture new readers, I am the audience. Hickman does a good job filling in some of the blanks that may confuse, but it still leaves me wanting to scour Wikipedia to find out what Reed is talking about. The story leaves me wondering whether I'm anticipating more because Hickman was leading me to that, or because I just read a story that just filled out page count. It's odd that six pages feel as if the story dragged on a bit too long.
The final story focuses on Valerie Cooper. It's mainly a conversation between Valerie Cooper and her reporter friend, Brett. By the end of it, it's shocked by how engaging a conversation revolving around pistachio ice cream can be. This is definitely a credit to Nick Spencer's dialogue (though it is about much more than pistachio ice cream). In the end, the conversation leads to a big reveal, one that could drastically change the state of the Ultimate Universe in the coming months.
The art by Clayton Crain is gorgeous. The almost-surrealist paint style works perfectly for the story being told. I found myself going back to look at his backgrounds. It starts off fairly bright and slowly grows darker as more information comes out about the state of mutant affairs in Washington, D.C., all leading to Spencer's final reveal. The story drops a bomb on the reader with elegance.
Ultimate Fallout does a wonderful job at getting new readers -- such as myself -- excited for what is coming down the line in the new Ultimate Comics. With the exception of the Reed Richards story, this comic is a success. I never thought I would find myself wanting to read much from the Ultimate Universe -- however, I have genuinely been converted into a reader.
I only wish I knew what all the controversy was over.
Oh, wait... Spider-Man is black? No wonder Glenn Beck seemed so peeved.
Nick Boisson grew up on television, Woody Allen, video games, Hardy Boys mysteries and DC comic books, with the occasional Spider-Man issue thrown in for good measure. He currently roams the rainy streets of Miami, Florida, looking for a nice tie, a woman that gets him and the windbreaker he lost when he was eight. He sometimes writes things down on Twitter as @nitroslick.
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