After last issue focused on the Ultimates, shifting from “Ultimate Comics Avengers 3” to this series, this second issue clues us in on what’s going on with Nick Fury and his black ops group. The end of the first issue suggested that Fury had turned traitor, selling Super-Soldier Program secrets to China to fund his attempt to take over SHIELD. Mark Millar doesn’t immediately address that insinuation, instead developing an alternate story surrounding the sale of Super-Soldier Program secrets. This creation of a parallel story that shows how the Avengers will be coming after the Ultimates is a smart way to build the story when we’ve already seen why the Ultimates will be coming after the Avengers.
Just as the first issue came out of the end of “Ultimate Comics Avengers 3,” this issue goes beyond that series to show how the previous stories all lead to this one. Nick Fury gathers a black ops team made up of people from the previous arcs like the Punisher, Blade, War Machine, Hawkeye, and then turns them loose against the first Hulk. The building of the group to stop the sale of Super-Soldier Program secrets only for it to turn into a giant brawl between War Machine and the first Hulk comes off as very natural, and immediately poses the question: if Nick Fury is stopping the sale, then who is actually behind it?
The brawl also gives us a chance to see a second round of War Machine versus Hulk after their first fight in “Ultimate Comics Avengers 2.” Once again, the Hulk comes out on top, but the fight is more competitive this time, and, then, has Blade using part of his vampire heritage in a pretty cool way. The fight between Rhodes and the Hulk is brutal and destructive, drawn in hard-hitting, quick-moving fashion by Leinil Francis Yu and Stephen Segovia. Segovia handles much of the fight and, though not as polished as Yu, he does a good job of working in Yu’s style, no doubt aided by the inking. If you weren’t told that Yu doesn’t draw the entire issue, it wouldn’t jump out immediately.
The use of Yu on this issue is judicious; he draws some of the more important pages or ones that require the stronger artist. Since Yu was the artist that first introduced the original Hulk to readers, him drawing the final pages where the Hulk is returned to his human form is appropriate. He’s able to both show how it’s obviously the same man, but play up the contrast of size and age.
Taken alone, it makes for a solid issue of Fury gathering some people to stop the sale, the mission taking an unexpected turn, and them still accomplishing the mission. In the larger context, it’s the other side of the first issue and further sets the Avengers and Ultimates on a collision course, a conflict that’s been coming since Fury announced his intentions to regain his former post as director of SHIELD at the end of “Ultimate Comics Avengers” #6. This is shaping up to be an entertaining capstone to Millar’s tenure on this corner of the Ultimate universe.