Current Reviews


Ultimate Fantastic Four #22

Posted: Monday, August 15, 2005
By: David Wallace

ďCrossover: Part 2Ē

Writer: Mark Millar
Artists: Greg Land (p), Matt Ryan (i), Jutin Ponsor (c)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Mark Millar continues his efforts with the Ultimate Fantastic Four with his second issue as sole writer, and his second of the much-mooted ďcrossoverĒ arc. It now seems clear that any possibility of this story featuring a crossover between the Ultimate and Regular Marvel Universes was all a lot of marketing hype, and to be honest, Millar is crafting a far more engaging story here. As Reed Richards finds himself in a Marvel Universe with a twist, Millar and Land plunge the reader into a truly horrific zombie scenario in an apocalyptic, ravaged New York cityscape.

Itís a neat idea to mix the genres of superhero comics and zombie flicks (both currently very much en-vogue in pop culture), and it makes for some terrific visuals. Landís portrayal of a multitude of zombified Marvel characters gunning for Reed is necessarily gruesome, and all the more frightening for the reader who has knowledge of these regular MU characters as heroes, and not villains. One panel in particular which shows Zombie-Spider-Manís snarling face hanging upside-down in front of a mob of nasty-looking Marvelites is completely arresting, and Landís artwork does well to capture the nightmarish quality of the situation that the Ultimate Reed Richards has found himself in. Thereís an excellent level of detail here, mixed with a convincingly realistic style which serves the story well. If the art team had opted for a more cartoonish approach, the zombie angle could have come off as comical or flippant Ė but here, under Greg Landís pencil, itís a very serious, very scary concept. The only jarring note is in Landís exaggerated portrayal of the Ultimate Thingís face, which is drawn in a completely different style than the rest of his characters (including his zombie-Thing from the alternate dimension). Still, itís a very minor nitpick which is only really noticeable in one panel of the story.

Happily, Millar doesnít dwell too long on playing around with his toys before moving the plot along a little, as rescue for Reed soon arrives at the hands of a very unlikely individual. If Magnetoís appearance as Reedís saviour hadnít been splashed all over the cover and preview pages available on the internet for a month now, his grandiose entrance here might have had greater effect. As it is, itís still a very cool superhero sequence which gives Land a chance to draw lots more cars (why not? He seems to enjoy it) and gives Millar a chance to take a momentís pause for some necessary exposition. Magnetoís monologue makes for some interesting reading, and fleshes out (no pun intended) the zombie-Marvel-Universe a little more fully. Itís a scary idea that an entire world could become infected by such a plague in as little as 3 days, and it makes sense when one considers the logic of super-heroes as carriers. And whilst Magnetoís behaviour in sheltering some of the last remaining humans is a little out of character (and is acknowledged as such), it can be overlooked in favour of telling a good story.

One slight criticism could be that this is very much a "Reed" story, with the other team members relegated to virtual cameos in their own book. However, this looks to be remedied in the near future, as the closing pages of this issue begin to show the further ramifications of Reedís hasty, impulsive construction of his alternate-reality transporter, and set up an excellent cliffhanger for next monthís concluding issue. Itís worth noting here that this arc has commendably been kept to only three issues, when other writers (or, more likely, editors) would pad it out to five or six in order to make it saleable in a collected format. Whatís more, this shorter story format allows Millar to skip any unnecessary ďdecompressiveĒ storytelling and, as a result, the story skips along at an excellent pace. Millar has shown with his first two issues that heís got a real aptitude for writing this team, as each installment features a winning mixture of mind-bending ideas, larger-than-life action, and snappy dialogue between the team members. Hereís hoping he keeps it up.

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