“Ultimate Six Part 6”
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Trevor Hairsine (p), Danny Miki (i)
The series follows up on its promise as The Ultimates and the Ultimate Six clash on the White House lawn. For 22 pages.
Detractors of Brian Michael Bendis' wordy style can rejoice: this issue sees wall-to-wall action as the combined forces of the Ultimates take on Norman Osborn's titular group of miscreants. There is a great sense of balance as each member of the Ultimates meets their match: Thor and Electro spark each other off, Captain America takes on the Green Goblin and Peter has to make a decision as to which side he's on, despite his concerns for the well-being of his aunt May. Particular mention must however go to the Iron Man and Sandman showdown thread which continues throughout the issue, finding an interesting use for the Sandman's physical capabilities and providing an excellent knock-out shot for Tony Stark as the battle draws to a close.
Bendis' ostentatious writing takes a back seat this month, as although there are some fun lines from Spidey and the Wasp, some good superhero banter and an interesting climax to this penultimate instalment, the lion's share of the praise must go to Trevor Hairsine for his outstanding larger-than-life artwork. Splash pages are the order of the day, and the opening dialogue-free pages are so richly in action and detail that they could be studied all day. Another noteworthy sequence involves a charge from the Wasp's point of view as she flies through the carnage to incapacitate Doctor Octopus: a real dynamism is coupled with an great sense of Janet Pym's scale, and the payoff of her plan is effectively rendered.
Happily, Hairsine's skill doesn't just extend to large scale excitement, as his close-up facial expressions are becoming clearer and clearer, conveying a real sense of determination on Iron Man's normally blank visage, and portraying excellently Peter's unwillingness to fight against the Ultimates under duress before he erupts into anger against his former captors. If there is any fault to be found, it is the recurrence of those same faces being occasionally distorted - a small criticism, and one that seems to be improving with time.
With the culmination of this issue, the physical punch of the battle is coupled with an equally poignant emotional one, perhaps providing some explanation for Nick Fury's absence. Despite the series deviating from some more interesting intellectual issues that were raised in earlier issues (concerning the morality of the activities of a right-wing US government on a war footing) it maintains a certain intrigue. Indeed, the cliffhanger that leads into the final issue is suitably out of left-field to be surprising, but also logical enough to keep the series compelling. Action junkies will be satisfied that this time round the title has finally matched its spandex with spectacle, making it feel closer than ever to the action-packed antics of the Ultimates' regular series.
Ultimate Six finally lives up to its promise and delivers a superhero bust-up of the type you thought they didn't make anymore. In a triumph of pacing, the climax to the action element of the series fails to disappoint whilst leaving room for a more thoughtful character-based finale next issue.
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