The presumed beginning of the end is earnestly set into motion in “Cataclysm: The Ultimates’ Last Stand” through the creative efforts of writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mark Bagley. Focusing on the results of Galactus making landfall on the Ultimate version of Earth, this story is able to take a hard look at what might happen if Galactus actually began devouring the planet.
There are no hard ties to either “Cataclysm” #0.1 or “Hunger,” save for the fact that Galactus is in the Ultimate Universe, he’s hungry and he has now landed on Earth, where he begins to satiate his hunger. As most writers would, Bendis focuses on the interactions and reactions of characters he is most familiar with, starting with Miles Morales and his pal Ganke. The two teens are strolling along through Brooklyn when Galactus appears, which leads to some impressive action sequences as Miles tries to figure out just what it is that he can do, given the considerable size difference. None of the impediments Galactus has encountered to this point appear in this comic, which focuses on the world crying out to the Ultimates for salvation.
The scope of “Cataclysm: The Ultimates’ Last Stand” #1 is global, with world-shattering implications. While I can appreciate Mark Bagley’s consistency and reliability, his execution of this adventure visually reduces the scale. Galactus is towering on every page, but he isn’t huge. He cuts an intimidating figure to be certain, particularly in the relatively flat landscapes Bagley draws around him, but he hardly appears more menacing than a giant monster. This Galactus is more impressive than the cloud from the second “Fantastic Four” film, but it isn’t until the final page of this issue that the pure threat Galactus poses can be fully assessed. Additionally, Bagley’s interface with colorist Jason Keith appears to liquefy Miles’ and Ganke’s faces, which are minimally defined by Bagley, who appears content with letting Keith define the planes and depth. Keith’s colors are just a little too soft in spots, which projects the image of melting faces. On the flip side, Bagley and Keith do make Galactus’ appearance memorable in color, detail and energy.
“Cataclysm: The Ultimates’ Last Stand” #1 is a solid enough read, providing comic fans with a fitting crossover between the Ultimate Universe and the 616 Marvel Universe. After the final page of the story, Marvel delivers some additional kindling for the speculation fire by placing a full-page ad in the inside back cover that inquires: “Is this the end of Marvel Comics?” Obviously, it isn’t, but if it were to be the end, this is most definitely the opening chapter. Many a crossover has promised to alter the landscape of comic book universes forever, but “Cataclysm: The Ultimates’ Last Stand” #1 actually sets that in motion. The Ultimate Universe hasn’t fully recovered from “Ultimatum.” Now, with Galactus on the move and the waves of “Age of Ultron” still rippling across the multiversal pond, it seems as though the days of this universe are truly numbered. The subtitle of this series limits the scope almost as much as the art and the cast do. Here’s hoping for a larger presentation of scope as the series move ahead. After all, the end of everything should affect everyone.