Current Reviews


Ultimate Fantastic Four #28

Posted: Tuesday, March 28, 2006
By: Mark J. Hayman

"President Thor", Part 2 of 3

Writer: Mark Millar
Artists: Greg Land (p), Matt Ryan (i), Justin Ponsor (colors)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Something doesn't add up. A few things, in fact.

Let's begin with Thor. Millar wrote the book on Thor over in The Ultimates, and endowed him with a sort of "Cosmic Awareness," for lack of a better description. Though it took the Voluminous Volstagg to point him in the right direction, our man with the hammer has demonstrated than he can sense when reality has been altered. The tri-pronged undoing of the teleportation accident that created Doom and the FF, the introduction of and duplicity by the Skrulls, and the apparent retconning of the Chitauri should all be helping to put Thor off of his Jarlsberg (to say nothing of Venezuelan Beaver Cheese - very popular with mythical Norse deities, I hear). Yet, he's oblivious. The same guy (er, god) who knew all of Banner's nasty little secrets is now so far gone that he's helped to usher in the possible extinction - at least the subjugation - of the human race, and that's just odd.

Next, the Chitauri have been relegated to being "a gang of criminals" and possibly not Skrulls at all. Instead of an extra-dimensional race bent on Universal domination, they're now the standard green, corrugated chin version. I guess. Millar might still have something up his sleeve, but the inclusion of the formerly entombed Super Skrull (the classic model) rewrites a whack of Ultimate (and Ultimates) history all by his lonesome. It would be a cop-out of the highest order to imply that Reed's having altered Earth's history would have had a similar effect on an extraterrestrial race, and it would be bordering on insanity for Millar to so trivialize a story that he wrote.

There is an explanation for everything, a simple one, but it still feels like sleight of hand: Reed's time gizmo took the FF to another parallel reality rather than their own past, meaning that anything goes, from Skrulls co-existing with Chitauri to Idiot Thor. I hate this idea so much that I can't stand it, but what else is there?

All of this aside, it is a fun book. After my disappointment with "Tomb Of Namor" it was going to take something special to draw me back in. Sticking Thor - not just Thor, Ultimate Thor - in the centre of the story was guaranteed to make me continue to read UFF, just as the next arc, "Frightful," featuring the return of both Doom and the Zombie FF, will keep me on board for the foreseeable future.

This chapter opens with Reed and Viktor's experiment not blowing up in their faces, shifts to allow us a glimpse of this new world of super beings, reminiscent of Neil Gaiman's first Miracleman arc, "The Golden Age," then settles down to the core of the story, the Skrulls, and their creepy agenda (stumbled upon by an unfortunate Sue - who really should have been more clever than that, particularly as she's been portrayed as an uber-genius right from childhood; perhaps the enhancement that gave her the standard inviso-powers in this reality also turned her into a twit). The "secondary effects" of the enhancements will necessarily incapacitate Johnny and Reed at any moment, leaving Ben and Thor as humanity's last hope (and possibly some mutants or others who wouldn't have stood to benefit from the drug; I'm thinking of Cap, Spidey, etc.). Though Ben remaining human is the point of this whole exercise, his fame, popularity, and potential to overcome the Skrulls is all a bit murky. Finally, somewhere out there, or out then, is the time-hopping Super Skrull; clearly he has a pivotal role to play, and I'm curious to see what that will be - despite still being honked off at his introduction into Ultimate continuity in the first place.

Greg Land's style has been criticised as being too posed and pretty; that he's better suited for covers and pin-ups than an action book. Not so very long ago I would have agreed with this assessment to a degree, but not anymore. True, his action is not so resonant as some of his contemporaries, but few illustrators could realistically be termed "peers." His style evokes most everything there is to love about Bryan Hitch or John Cassaday, but Land has demonstrated that he can work to deadline. I don't mind waiting for something special; with Land you don't have to wait, which is itself special. Practically a miracle. Here's hoping he doesn't burn himself out before his run on UFF comes to a close (or spoils his next project, whatever it might be).

If the story or the illustration don't grab you, at least you get some Doombots, and that ain't bad.

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