Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pull List Review: Ultimate Comics Ultimates #12

While conceptually I enjoyed many aspects of the conclusion to this story, the execution of it in within this specific issue was piss-poor. After eleven damn issues of Reed Richards being this unstoppable, unimaginable evil genius, Tony Stark gets lucky with a sentient tumor and, in one fell swoop, saves the day. What? A brain tumor with a mind of its own that can control technology? That is the best solution Jonathan Hickman and Sam Humphries could come up with? Richards and his City made for some of the boldest, most compelling new supervillains I've come across in ages, and the key to defeating them ends up being...a fluke. A health problem made into a power. Dues ex machina taking the form of intelligent cancer.


I understand and agree with the idea that the City might see Richards' recent behavior as counter to its own goals and then turn against him. These are the parts that worked for me. And visually, I admit it was pretty great to watch a giant Iron Man and Hulk duke it out over a Mr. Fantastic who was stretched to his limits. Luke Ross actually brought some of his strongest work to this issue, I thought, and that fight in particular looked great. But come on, one of the guys who happens to be on the Ultimates also happens to have an undetectable secret weapon growing in his brain? I call foul.

This rushed, half-assed story isn't helped by two jarring artist changes. When Ron Garney takes over on page 14, all the credit Ross managed to earn up to that point is quickly undone and replaced by smudgy, sloppy imagery. And then the final two pages by Butch Guice, while actually quite strong, are so stylistically distinct from Ross or Garney that you feel like you're reading a preview for another series. And, in some ways, you are, since Guice's pages are a lead-in to the impending "Divided We Fall" crossover, and have literally nothing to do with the Children of Tomorrow story which gets wrapped up in the rest of the issue.

I've been singing this book's praises for the better part of a year now, and it had everything to do with the strength of Reed as a bad guy and the City as a concept. To have it all so briskly and unsatisfactorily brushed aside is a tremendous bummer. I guess the City remains in the Ultimate Universe, so perhaps we'll see more of it in the future, but I'd almost rather not. It's been tainted now, spoiled somewhat by the godawful handling of Richards' defeat. This title seems to be on a steady downward slide in quality. I hope it can bounce back before I'm forced to bail entirely.

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