Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Joe Quesada & Trevor Hairsine(p), Danny Miki(i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The Ultimate Five have somehow escaped from S.H.I.E.L.D.ís high-tech prison and theyíve left a remarkable amount of carnage in their wake. Nick Fury and the Ultimates must scramble to sort out what happened and react before more death and destruction follows. Nick Fury tries to anticipate their next move and begins rounding up potential targets of the five, including Peter Parker.
Iíve read pretty much all of Brian Michael Bendisís work. And to my recollection he has never written a big team book or a military adventure. Ultimate Six is both and youíd never know Bendis was a novice at the format. A lot of writers make the mistake of emphasizing action over interaction in this genre, as is evident in recent Avengers and JLA storylines. But in order to sell a big team storyline each character needs a distinct voice, which also means the action has to take a backseat. Again, this is where Bendis excels. Every character, from Captain America to Peter Parker to Nick Fury to Norman Osborn is a three dimensional character, no one is a cardboard cutout and whatís even more impressive is that Bendis somehow introduces each character to the reader, so you donít have to be a slave to Ultimate Marvel continuity to pick up this series and make sense of all the cards dealt.
This issue is all about tension. The Ultimate Five have escaped the SHIELD containment facility leaving thirty-five dead and Dr. Hank Pym severely injured Ė has Pym become the ultimate whipping boy for Marvel or what? Nick Fury owns the stage in this chapter; heís distraught over the deaths of those under his charge but maintains an air of authority as he directs the Ultimates in conducting an investigation of the breakout. Bendisís writing is super-clear and while there is zero physical action in this chapter the tension is thick. I get the sense while reading Ultimate Six this was a project Bendis has been waiting years to tackle.
Peter Parker is finally introduced as a character in this story. In light of the escaped villains Fury assumes their targets might be former adversaries, so Parker is yanked out of school and dragged to S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ. In a great sequence Nick Fury tells Peter of the escaped prisoners. Peter is immediately horrified and realizes his family will be targeted by Osborn, as they have in the past - itís a mature thought for a high school kid but his reaction is to start yelling and generally flipping out. Fury rages that heís lost 35 people today, more in one day than at any time in his career, so you best shut up kid or shaft will send you packing. Funny thing is, three chapters into this mini-series Iím still not quite sure what the story is. Sure, itís about abuse of power and revenge, but my experience with Bendis is that heís building towards something else.
Trevor Hairsineís art is, well, frustrating. He has a knack for the big, panoramic scenes, such as the destruction of the S.H.I.E.L.D. prison or the small details like the faces on computer monitors and restraining belts in helicopters. But he canít keep his figure work to any level of consistency. His interpretations of Nick Fury are bloated and unrecognizable, his eyes the size of pinheads in the argument with Peter Parker. But thereís good storytelling in his panels and you can excuse the uneven character drawing.
I keep waiting for the confrontation between the Ultimates, the big five villains and Spider-man. Somehow I know thereís a major surprise coming too. Problem is I feel like itís going to be wedged into the next one to issues. How many chapters are in this story? Can someone tell me, I donít read ďPreviewsĒ? Ultimate Six continues to relate strong characters in a mature setting, itís everything I was hoping for in an Ultimate title.
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