By: Sam Humphries (Writer), Scot Eaton (Artist), Rick Magyar w/Andrew Hennessey & Dave Meikis (Inkers), Matt Milla w/Andy Troy (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
The Review: If Jeph Loeb hadn’t irrevocably depleted my levels of Ultimate-based rage with the debacle that was Ultimates 3/Ultimatum, I’m pretty sure I’d be tearing this comic to bits with my teeth right now. As it stands, I’ve grown used to the Ultimates occasionally being neglected by Marvel’s quality control department like it was a red-headed stepchild and, as such, Sam Humphries’ run has elicited little more than a ‘meh’ from me most months. This month however, something in me snapped; we Ultimate fans deserve better than this.
Okay, so let’s start with possibly the biggest problem: the art. Since the wonderful Esad Ribic hit the ‘Eject’ button, departing Ultimate Comics Ultimates alongside Jonathan Hickman, the title has largely taken on an uneasy Boy’s Own look which felt totally at odds with the mature themes it was seeking to explore. It’s been difficult to take the Civil War-vibe and political posturing seriously with everything looking so bright, puffy and rounded, and that sense of disparity lingers here like a bad smell. For me, this is one of those Marvel titles which requires its art style to have one foot firmly rooted in the grimy, gritty ‘real’ to be truly effective. Bryan Hitch, Carlos Pacheco, Leinil Yu – who I feel have produced some of most definitive treatments of the Ultimates – all had a knack of conveying that sense of widescreen action that is so key to Mark Millar’s original blueprint. Scott Eaton’s work, much like Luke Ross’ before it, just feels too squeaky clean and fails to imbue enough drama into the scenes of volatile Hydra rebellion which lie at the heart of Humphries’ story.
As for Humphries, he’s certainly trying his best to make things interesting. There’s a double-agent plot, Hydra member melodrama, a shadowy organisation bent on unleashing a team of anti-Ultimates and Thor and Susan Storm investigating the secrets and whereabouts of the Infinity Gems/Gauntlet. That’s a hell of a lot of ground to cover in 20 pages and inevitably some of the spinning plates were destined to take a tumble. Frustratingly, what I found the most interesting element of all was the Thor and Susan Storm vignette, but with space at such a premium 2 pages is all Humphries could afford that story this month – the same is true of the “shadowy organisation” bit.
Filed under: Marvel Comics, Reviews | Tagged: Andrew Hennessey, Andy Troy, Captain America, Clayton Cowles, Dave Meikis, Hawkeye, Hydra, Marvel Comics, Matt Milla, Nick Fury, Rick Magyar, S.H.I.E.L.D., Sam Humphries, Scot Eaton, The Ultimates, Ultimate, Ultimate Marvel | 4 Comments »