Writer: Warren Ellis
Artists: Tom Raney (p), Scott Hanna (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: After the experiences of Ultimate Nightmare, where the Ultimates and the X-men accidentally teamed up to discover Ultimate Vision, Fury takes no chances and assembles a purposeful super-group of Ultimates and the Fantastic Four to explore the space threat of Gah Lak Tus and the interfering Kree. Makes sense to me.
Comments: This is the issue delayed by Bendis needing McNiven for his underwhelming Sentry story in New Avengers. The wait wasn’t worth the cost, as I've totally forgotten where we were in the plot, and the art change is jarring.
That said, Raney’s still a perfectly competent fill-in choice, and they should have just given him the job as soon as McNiven was whisked away; what’s this new deal with star artists having such status that they’ll only put out an issue if the preferred artist has enough time? Fill-ins used to be the norm to guarantee timely delivery, and I don’t think this opposite approach is an improvement. Of course, I also don’t think McNiven added anything to the Avengers; all the bells and whistles in the world weren’t going to save that story.
His one distinctive quality seems to be a certain cinematic flair when it comes to big-screen battles, and Raney’s not really known for his epic battle scenes. Luckily, there’s none of that in this all-talk issue anyway. Which is fine, because if you’re going to have a bunch of proud and cocky heroes meet for the first time, Ellis is your man for snappy repartee. Tony keeps hitting on Sue (even after she makes it clear she’s involved; but she takes care of herself perfectly), and also has a great geek moment with fellow genius Reed. Johnny and Ben are both wildcatting thrill jockeys, while Natasha and Clint are the seasoned pros worrying about their fates like adults.
That is to say, it doesn’t matter that nothing happens this issue, because the plot that’s hatched is great and the words are magic.
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