Marvel’s Ultimate Universe is going through some very significant changes and the death of Spider-Man was merely a catalyst. Now that the series has shied away from Peter Parker’s funeral in the last couple of issues, we begin to see just how his death is going to affect every character in this dimension.
Nick Spencer tells a story of the Ultimate Universe’s favorite forgotten son, Pietro Lensherr, known by many as Quicksilver. After the events of Ultimatum, Quicksilver has been AWOL from the Ultimate Universe. In this story, Quicksilver begins what he promised to do, carry on what his father — Magneto – had begun. At the end of a business meeting — which was not going all that well — with Philip Hanstead, CEO of Worldwide Solutions (because every other generic business name that sounds like it could produce anything but means nothing was already taken) and his, let’s go with “publicist,” Devon, Quicksilver announces his business plan to unite all of his mutant brethren under a cause, then sell them to Mr. Hanstead’s corporation.
Writer Nick Spencer, I feel, has had the luck of being tied to great artists in his Ultimate Fallout stories. This becomes especially important considering that most of the stories in this series have contained no action or any expected super-heroics from a book containing nothing but superheroes. And artist Luke Ross has been on many a comic geek’s list of great artists working in comics today. The first part of the Quicksilver story has all three characters merely sitting around a large table, discussing the current state of mutant affairs. But Spencer’s tongue for poignancy is uniquely balanced by Ross’ eye for depth and shadow. The two compliment one another so well that, when the first part ends, I wanted to skip ahead a few pages to see what happens next.
Jonathan Hickman and Billy Tan, however, do not share the same connection. Nick Fury has been dealt one bad hand after another following the death of the Ultimate web-slinger. But, so far, the deck has been dealt by those who were hurt by Peter Parker’s death. That all changes in this story. As Fury comes into S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ, he is dealt a brand new hand. First card: the European Union has started their Super-Soldier program backed up. This time, headed up by Jamie Braddock, or Ultimate Captain Britain. Second: a full-scale invasion is likely to occur in South America and the U.N. is promising Ultimates support if the Security Council chooses to intervene. Third: there have been rumblings from third-party intelligence sources about the Soviets developing a combo biological/metahuman weapons system and, whenever investigated, S.H.I.E.L.D. spies turn up dead. Then, after going up to his office, he is greeted by someone from the White House and is told that S.H.I.E.L.D.’s budget is being cut by 30 percent. Jonathan Hickman laid out a lot of story for his eight pages. Unfortunately, I feel that Billy Tan’s art falls flat. Nick Fury delivers two loaded, powerful lines in the last two pages that appear as if he were greeting his assistant. As a matter of fact, there is a panel where Fury tells his assistant to hold his calls that seemed to be delivered with more impact. I have seen Billy Tan do so much more with a page than this. One cannot blame Jonathan Hickman for the lack of emotional resonance anymore than one can blame Nick Fury for his delivery.
While both stories were well written, I feel as if the series is building a bridge too far from those who are not steeped in the Ultimate Universe. I had to keep a Marvel wiki open the entire time reading this issue. I am hoping, given that this mini-series is meant to restart Marvel’s Ultimate Universe and bring forth new readers, that the Ultimate Comics line that comes out of this series will not hold on too strongly to what happened prior. Of course, some elements will need to call back to prior events, but since they will have one whole – and, in most cases, multiple – issue rather than part of one, they will not leave their new readers behind. With one issue left in this mini-series, I look forward to seeing what Bendis, Hickman and Spencer leave us with in this universe and I look forward to what happens beyond.
Nick Boisson grew up on television, Woody Allen, video games, Hardy Boys mysteries and DC comic books, with the occasional Spider-Man issue thrown in for good measure. He currently roams the rainy streets of Miami, Florida, looking for a nice tie, a woman that gets him, and the windbreaker he lost when he was eight. He sometimes writes things down on Twitter as @nitroslick.