by Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessy (Artists), Jason Keith (Colorist)

The Story: Galactus hungers for alternate universes. Luckily for him, he actually is in one.

The Review: Readers of super hero stories are usually very open when it comes to concepts and how they are interpreted. A blind man with ninja training acting as a lawyer? Check. A man that turns green and massive when angry? Check. A man from a previous universe that has enormous power and need to feed on planets in order to survive? Double check. There are many ideas in this type of universe that are rather silly, yet the suspension of disbelief of capes enthusiast is usually rather strong.

There are times though were some ideas are perhaps a bit too far-fetched, however, like this series dealing with Galactus, the one from the regular 616 universe being in the Ultimate universe. There is potential here, to be sure, yet there are so many ways this could go wrong. Does Bendis and the rest of the creative team manage to bring out some of the better uses for this idea to the forefront in this opening issue?

For the most part, Bendis opens this up fairly well, using some of most preeminent concepts of both universes to create a good comparison between the two. The use of Galactus as an unstoppable force, one that cannot be bothered by ants is one that has been used many times before, yet it is used competently here as well. The destruction is on par with big action movies, which is commendable for a series that has a rather ominous title like Cataclysm: The Ultimates’ Last Stand.

The way Bendis uses the Ultimates, S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Ultimates to show the differences in power level as well as in how meta humans are in the Ultimate universe is also sound. As the Ultimates are trying to contain the threat, the feeling of inadequacy from Miles Morales was also a nice touch, with him wondering just how he could help against so massive a foe. It’s little touch of characterization like that that sells the concept a bit, despite how ludicrous it may be.

Another thing that help sell this is the fact that Bendis does not linger on with the premise, setting the arrival of Galactus rather quickly after a scene that serves as a contrast to the bizarre arrival of this being from another universe. With a good pacing, there is not a moment loss to show the threat, the scope and the players as everything is set up for readers to understand what is going on.

Where it might be a bit weaker, though, is the fact that despite the way everything is placed, it is still quite a lot of setup. There isn’t a lot here to surprise readers, with everything playing out as one could expect so far. Despite the fact that it is competently told, there isn’t much here that might make the readers wait eagerly for the next issue. It’s pretty much guaranteed that there might be twists and turns coming up, but they certainly aren’t in this issue. It’s apt, exciting even, but not in the best of ways.

Where it shines a bit more is in the art itself, by Mark Bagley and Andrew Hennessy, with one of them being a veteran artist that is able to work really well with Bendis, as seen on titles like Ultimate Spider-Man. Bringing a widescreen approach to this comic alongside a more traditional one, Bagley is able to bring out the colossal scope of Galactus as compared to the more traditional elements, with the cityscape and individual characters being puny compared to the hungry cosmic being. His panel layout permit for this comic to get large, with massive panels comparing the height and width of many of its elements without hurting the narrative flow. The action does benefit from those larger panels as well, bringing in the effects of battle against Galactus quite well on the pages, with explosions, energy and the like bursting on the pages. One small thing that isn’t that great would be the characters expressions, which are a bit hyperbolized and a bit too standard to be considered good or effective. There’s just so many ways one can draw an amazed or a shouting face without it becoming a tad repetitive and Bagley unfortunately doesn’t do much to make it diverse in that aspect. It does work with the story, but the facial expressions could have used some more details and differences.

The colorization by Jason Keith is very apt, though, as he goes overboard in cosmic lunacy, which is very fitting considering the character on focus in this issue. While the first few pages are fairly normal, depicting an urban area competently with very low contrasts and a subtle diversity, Keith goes seemingly insane when Galactus arrive, to the benefit of this comic. The huge amount of energy, along with the alien palette of Galactus, makes for colors that complement the kirby krackles and the high energy and big action on the page. Explosions of red, blue, purple clashes against more regular colors like the grey of the helicarriers, the brown and grey of the building and so forth. It’s chaotic, yet it’s precisely the kind of colorization that was needed for this issue, to Keith’s credit.

The Conclusion: While it is a lot of setup and doesn’t strive to surprise its readers, the high amount of action, the showcase of Galactus and the Ultimate universe along with the strong art and colorization makes this first issue a rather successful one. Recommended.

Grade: B+

-Hugo Robberts Larivière