Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Trevor Hairsine (p), Danny Miki (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
With five of the most deadly super-villains on the loose, we see the emergency call is put out to the Ultimates, and since it was Spider-Man who put all these dangerous villains behind bars, we see S.H.I.E.L.D. is quick to bring the young hero in. However, Peter is not overly impressed by the way S.H.I.E.L.D. looks to be handling the safety of his loved ones, and the issue ends with the discovery that Norman Osborn still had friends in high places.
The first two chapters were devoted to setting up the villains' current status quos, establishing their powers/personalities, and then unleashing them upon the world. However, this issue offers up the reactions of the good guys to the news that five of the most dangerous villains alive have escaped, and while the story is guilty of dragging it's heels, the one thing the Brian Michael Bendis does better than any other writer is to make the waiting game interesting. I mean the story doesn't really need that scene in the classroom, where we see Peter and the rest of his classmates getting an earful from his teacher, and considering they don't really do anything beyond respond to the emergency alert the opening three pages of this issue feel a bit excessive. However, I will concede that the villains do come across as quite formidable thanks in part to our getting a look at how large a reaction their escape sets in motion, and the scene in the classroom does establish a sense of normality that is quickly shattered when Peter is called in and made aware of the situation. I also have to give credit to the investigation scene involving Iron Man, as his discovery of the bodies does a wonderful job of establishing the idea that Brian Michael Bendis has taken the kid's gloves off, as this group of villains have a far harder edge than their Marvel counterparts ever had. The story also takes an interesting twist in the final pages, as Norman Osborn makes his first move.
As for the art, I can't say I was overly impressed by Trevor Hairsline's version of Peter Parker but since Peter's likely to be putting on his costume in short order, I'm perfectly willing to accept the idea that he is such a big fan of that particular hairstyle that he wants as many characters as possible sporting it. I do want to give the art credit for capturing the dark, decidedly sinister mood when Tony is busy investigating the ruins of the prison facility, and the scene where Peter is brought to the Triskelion, the art perfectly captures to sense of wonder on this moment. I also enjoyed Peter's expression when he learns that all the villains he helped capture have escaped, as well as Nick Fury's flash of anger when he's lets Peter know 35 agents were killed during the escape.
If this had been the second issue instead of the third I'd probably be praising this miniseries for it full speed ahead approach. As it stands though I have to say I'll have to content myself with the fact that Brian Michael Bendis has made a habit of this slow, deliberate pacing, and most times I'm quite happy with the final picture, so I'm quite willing to sit back and enjoy the slow buildup. Now if nothing else these early issues have done a very solid job of playing up the idea that the escaped villains are very dangerous, as they not only have the raw power to cause untold devastation, but they also have two villains steering the ship that are highly intelligent, and are most likely smarter than the heroes that are working to capture them. Having Nick Fury in such a frazzled state for most of the issue is also works to establish the threat potential of the villains, and having Peter brought in by S.H.I.E.L.D. is a very solid way of removing the character from his usual environment and inserted into the large scale heroics that one finds in the Ultimates.
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