Current Reviews


Ultimate Fantastic Four #26

Posted: Friday, January 6, 2006
By: Dave Wallace

ďTomb of Namor: Part 3Ē
ďUltimate Vision: Part 6Ē

Writer: Mark Millar
Fantastic Four Artists: Greg Land (p), Matt Ryan (i), Justin Ponsor & Laura Martin (colours)
Vision Artists: John Romita Jr. (p), Jimmy Palmiotti (i), June Chung (colours)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

This issue of UFF concludes Mark Millarís Namor arc, and whilst itís a solid and entertaining issue with the usual wacky ideas, over-the-top action and strong characterisation that weíve come to expect from the writer, it somehow fails to quite reach the great heights of some of his previous issues. Millar kicks off by plunging us straight into the action as the FF take on Namor in New Yorkís Times Square. Like last issueís opening fight between the Human Torch and Namor, itís a well-drawn sequence which benefits a lot from its vivid colouring, adding a real sense of urgency and excitement to the already strong pencils of Greg Land. Reedís belated arrival on the scene allows for the big reveal of the mysterious Fantastic Oh-Five from last issue, and although itís a fairly silly concept at heart, it allows for even more frenetic action as the tables are turned on the incredibly powerful Namor.

However, itís with Reedís second invention that Millar really triumphs, as the concept of a virtual-reality helmet which makes all the denizens of your imagination come to life is exploited to full effect by the writer. Reedís imagination is evidently an interesting place, as amid the chaos that is wrought by the arrival of virtual Ultimates and a virtual Spider-Man, Millar writes a comic scene which shows Reedís subconscious brain envisioning a near-naked Mary Storm in all her MILF glory. Itís a fun moment which reinforces the idea that although Ultimate Reed is as much of a genius as his regular MU counterpart, heís still a teenager at heart, and heís a lot more relatable as a result. Although the eventual downfall of Reedís invention feels a little more like a contrived plot device than an organic progression of the story Ė Iím sure Franklin Storm would have found a way to keep Reedís helmet powered when the lives of his children are at stake Ė it at least sets up a neat ending which plays up to the classic Reed/Sue/Namor love triangle which is such an inherent part of the 616 incarnations of the characters.

All in all, itís a fairly brisk issue which concludes the Namor storyline fairly ambiguously, allowing for his return in future issues and complicating the relationship between Sue and Reed ever so slightly. Itís a decent fight issue which ties things up neatly enough for now, and the mysterious ending even hints at a continuation of the Dr. Doom storyline which was begun by Warren Ellis in the second arc of the book. Iím interested to see if Millar can make a better job of that key character than Ellisí original ďDoomĒ arc managed, but before that, it looks as though weíre in for a lighter and more entertaining arc based around the alternate-future concept of ďPresident Thor.Ē Iím looking forward to it. Hopefully Millar will combine his constantly imaginative and fast-moving approach to the book with an eventual return to tie up all the loose ends which he has left dangling so far, because it seems that with the Zombie FF still tied up in the Baxter Building, the Stormís mother showing questionable allegiances, and the relationship between our four heroes ever-evolving, thereís still plenty of material ripe for exploitation in this book by the winning team of Millar and Land.

This issue also features a back-up strip in the form of Ultimate Vision #6, the final in a series of six four-page strips which build up to the Ultimate Extinction miniseries. Although Iíve only read one of the preceding strips, this seems to be a very strange coda to the Visionís story in that it renders it all fairly irrelevant: Gah Lak Tus is on its way and thereís apparently nothing that the Ultimate Universe can do to stop it. Of course, we, the reader, know that this isnít going to prove to be the case (unless Joe Quesada plans on ending one of Marvelís most successful imprints in five monthsí time) and as such the portentous nature of Visionís warning doesnít quite instil the sense of dread that it seems to be aiming for. Coupling this with John Romitaís art, which is fairly average by his own high standards - although this is perhaps as much due to the uninspired character design of Sam Wilson and Vision as it is his pencilling - makes for an emintently skippable mini-chapter of the Ultimate Galaktus trilogy, which isnít even written by Ultimate Galaktus mastermind Warren Ellis but instead falls to Mark Millar to provide a by-numbers fill-in. Nothing special.

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