by Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessy (Artists), Jason Keith (Colorist)
The Story: Miles Morales and Reed Richards travel to Earth-616 for help against Galactus.
The Review: Decompression is perhaps one of the plagues of current comics that make readers cringe the most. While slowing things down to perhaps exploit every possible changes and smaller details can work to great effects in most stories, it is a technique that does not always adapt well to certain genres. Some writers can do a slow-build wonderfully, while others don’t seem to be able to actually understand the fine line between progress and stalling. Also known in some circles as ”trade-writing”, it is always a rather disappointing thing to read an issue that is so blatant in its general lack of meaningful progress.
This issue verges for the most part on the worst traits of this particular problem, balancing between being rather slow and uneventful without being absolutely meaningless. While not the most satisfactory issue, it does give readers and those following the Ultimate universe some rather memorable moments while it does its job moving from point A to B decently enough.
The issue does have its merits, though, with some rather strong moments dedicated to Reed Richards, who is morally different in the Ultimate universe. The voyage to Earth-616 is one that does pack a few sentimental moments, such as Reed discovering how different his life is in the regular universe and how things could have turned out. It’s a rather great moment, with close to no dialogue to let it sink in.
The rest of the issue isn’t as fortunate, however, as there isn’t much here that works very well. The lack of big surprises, the linearity of the plot and the potential wasted by this teleportation from one universe to another doesn’t really make this an enjoyable read. It feels a bit more like a transition point, an obligatory issue to set some things straight first before things actually begin to get interesting. There is a certain lack of twists here that does not really add much to the plot or to the characters present in this issue.
The dialogue, however, does have a few bright spots, with some genuinely funny lines that does add a bit to the experience. The way Miles tries to understand the situation and how Reed is analyzing everything does makes for some entertaining quips, yet it’s not all good either. Quite a few of the first pages are unfortunately plagued with quite a lot of exposition to make readers understand the relation between characters, yet does so in a way that feels a bit cyclical. There are so many lines necessary to understand that Reed Richards is a scumbag, it comes as a bit pointless to push this information forth again and again.
Another area which has a few bright spots in a way that is mostly welcome is the art. Mark Bagley and Andrew Hennessy do tend to switch very well between cataclysmic and personal in this issue, rocking some panels featuring Galactus destroying everything or the powerful scene in which Reed Richards look at what his counterpart has achieved. The panelling, for the most part, is also rather dynamic, telling the story in a fluid manner without rushing anything nor slowing things down considerably. The characters, for the most part, are expressive enough, although not in a general manner. There are moments when the emotions conveyed are subtle, yet well-put on papers and there are times when they are simply so subtle it becomes almost invisible, which detracts from the characters and their reaction to events. Something that does not favor to Bagley and Hennessy, though, is how they draw Valeria. Considering she is supposed to be perhaps three of four years old, she seems a bit too tall and a bit deformed in her anatomy, which makes her look like a small adult rather than a child, which is kind of creepy in a way.
The colorization, on the other hand, is rather neat, with Jason Keith bringing his talent to the issue. While not as experimental or minimalist as other colorists, Keith does a fine job with setting an ambiance with his work, playing with lighting, shadows and different shading in order to bring out the destruction and the super science on display on the pages. There is perhaps an abundance of lighting and reflection in his work, but it does work rather well in most scenes as Jason Keith bring the more luminous and downright mad aspects of super heroes quite easily through these effects.
The Conclusion: There might be a few moments noteworthy with some good art and colorization, yet the very slow development and the unsurprising progression on display does not make for a very satisfying comic.
-Hugo Robberts Larivière