by Joshua Hale Fialkov (Writer), Leonard Kirk (Artist), Jesus Aburtov (Colorist)

The Story: Mahr-Vell arrives on the scene as Rick Jones doubts himself even more. Meanwhile, Galactus hungers.

The Review: It has been a while since we have seen the latest issue of this series, has it not? With the fate of the cosmic side of the Ultimate universe in the balance, the latest issue tried to show the threat that the merging of Gah Lak Tus with the regular one as Rick Jones generally whines about his role in the story. While there were some weaker aspects to the story, it was still a generally enjoyable one nonetheless. Does this issue continue this trend or does it shows a better handle on some of its elements?

It’s a strange thing to say, but it maintains the very same strengths and weaknesses, albeit what’s good get better, yet the disappointing aspects also get worse. The elements that actually worked through the story were the cosmic ones, as the presence of Galactus actually felt like a catastrophe in space. The way the Kree acts and the explanation for what Gah Lak Tus actually is do make the comic a bit more heavy on the drama and the action as a result, which does help in selling the actual point of this mini-series.

What also worked is the general approach toward the catastrophe and how it affects some of the key players, like the Silver Surfer and Mahr-Vell, who comes off as rather good point-of-view characters in this issue, bringing in some interesting questions, exposition and action for the readers to enjoy.

Where it fails a bit, however, is a simple thing that is relative in its importance, yet can lead to annoyance for many readers: continuity. When Captain Mahr-Vell finally meet Rick Jones, he acts as if he never did meet him, treating him like an unwanted burden. However, those characters did meet in the Ultimate Mystery series by Bendis and Sandoval, with their interaction being an actual high point in that aforementioned series. Considering the fact that this series is the buildup to what could very well be the end of the Ultimate universe and the end of a very specific character, some research could have been nice from Fialkov’s point.

Another point that is also very disappointing is Rick Jones himself, who manages to push his annoying characterization on a whole other level in this issue. While the angle that a cosmic disturbance and a godlike threat can be overwhelming for a character that has no idea what’s going on is well-handled, the rest isn’t. The way that Rick goes away from the problem is a bit unbelievable considering the stakes at hand, yet the reasons why he goes back in the fray is even more so, which stretches the suspension of disbelief a bit too far. There is a pretty potent development for the character toward the end though, but it’s not enough to make him actually enjoyable for this issue as a whole.

The strongest point by far is Leonard Kirk, who really shines when it comes to displaying huge canvas of space action. His space opera muscle really renders the scope of the scenes with Galactus and the world of Hala splendidly as he really fills those panels to the brim, enhancing the tension and the urgency that the presence of the regular world-eater is causing. The panelling in those scenes isn’t anything exceptional, yet it is competent enough to provide as much space that is needed to really let the intensity get on the page. The scenes on Earth, though, don’t fare so well. They are respectable, to be sure, as there is still a lot of space given to let the backgrounds and the many suburban and natural elements to do their work, yet they lack the ambition and majesty that the scenes in space possesses naturally. An area which has no problem, however, is how the characters are portrayed in panels. Their motions seems fluid, their expressions aren’t static and the dread is perfectly shown on their face. Just like the space scenes, the characters don’t really have any problem at all.

Another part which hasn’t any problem whatsoever is the colorization by Jesus Aburtov, which is simply magnificent. The depths of space, the surface of Hala, the suburban area of Manhattan, the beach where the characters fight Gah Lak Tus, each and every one of those settings are done very well by Aburtov, who manages to connect the many palettes with several elements, like Rick Jones and the cosmic energies. There is an incredible richness to the way that the action is portrayed through the colors, with the explosions, the energy and everything else being so bright against some very dark backgrounds. It’s as much an achievement for Kirk as it is for Aburtov here.

The Conclusion: While the main protagonists is a bit annoying and some elements aren’t handled in the most interesting of ways by the author, the art by Leonard Kirk combined by the colorization of Jesus Aburtov makes for a strong case for this comic, as does the handling of the several cosmic elements.

Grade: B-

Hugo Robberts Larivière