With “Cataclysm” in the rearview mirror, “Survive” #1 begins to pick up the pieces of the Ultimate Universe following Galactus’ visit. Writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Joe Quinones deliver a series of vignettes that peer into the lives of a number of survivors: Susan Storm, Monica Chang, Tony Stark and Miles Morales.
Oddly enough, Bendis all but ignores Sam Wilson and Storm (Ororo Munroe), both of whom share the cover of “Survive” #1 with Susan Storm. That may be due to space constraints or the cover appeal that Falcon is more likely to bring, given the character’s prominent role in an upcoming feature film. Whatever the case, it adds up to a jarring mismatch of cover and content. However, Bendis plays to his strengths in this issue, utilizing talking heads and character conversations. Except for Spider-Man saving some contractors, there is very little action that occurs in this comic book, focusing instead on the connections between the inhabitants of the Ultimate Universe as Tony Stark eulogizes Captain America.
Quinones’ art is a good match for Bendis’ script, with an excellent artistic focus on character moments and emotion. Yes, the artist also does a fine job with the action bits and the scenery, but short of Kevin Maguire, few artists deliver such a dynamic range of emotions in the characters as Quinones. Readers are treated to a range of human emotions as Kitty Pryde fields a call from the President of the United States, the one scene that best projects Quinones’ contributions to this comic book. He gives each character a distinct identity and elevates the script through dynamic camera angles and strong character interaction. Quinones also knows when to rein things in, dropping out backgrounds to highlight the focus on the characters, gently guiding readers through the panels all the way along. Aside from giving the somber characters all pinkeye in place of what should be bloodshot, teary eyes, the coloring is solid and vibrant, reflecting mood and atmosphere throughout “Survive” #1.
“Survive” #1 delivers a fitting conclusion to the calamity brought about by Galactus. The characters of the Ultimate Universe are left to rebuild their lives and Bendis sets them up to do just that. Some characters leave “Survive” #1 with a purpose to fight for, a call to answer or renewed vigor. As with all endings, though, some new beginnings are not quite as clear as they could be, but that really just steers readers towards the budding new universe set to realize a trio of fresh starts. This isn’t the most dynamic offering the Ultimate brand has dished up, but it gets the work done, closing the chapter on the aftermath of Galactus and setting up what’s to come. It’s not critical reading for either experience, but it does offer a nice reprise/prologue for readers who tend to be completionists.