With the final issue of this mini-series/story arc, its title “Blade Versus the Avengers” shows itself to be somewhat false. That shouldn’t bother me, but it does. Is it so wrong to have wanted to see Blade versus the Avengers? Instead, we get Blade and the Avengers versus a whole bunch of vampires, a couple of whom happen to have been Avengers. It’s cool, just not as cool as the image conjured up by “Blade Versus the Avengers” where it’s Blade standing alone against all of Nick Fury’s black ops team, frothing at the mouth, demanding blood. And, honestly, that sums up this entire story arc.
When the latest “X-Men” comic was launched, Millar was annoyed because it involved vampires, too, and would run against his very own vampire story. Except the presence of both stories isn’t what hurts “Ultimate Comics Avengers 3,” it’s the slow build up to a clever-yet-unsatisfying finish. The payoff in the finale isn’t one that seems worth it. It happens and that’s about it. It seems like Millar anticipated such a reaction when a dying vampire Nerd Hulk accuses Captain America of cheating to defeat the vampires and Cap responds that it was tactics. “It’s not a cheap, anticlimactic finish, it’s just clever!”
Captain America’s solution to defeating the vampires is clever, and also ends the conflict immediately. It’s too easy. After five issues of building to the big conflict between the vampires and the Avengers, there was a tease last issue and then not a whole lot this issue. For a writer known for big blockbuster action comics, there isn’t a lot of action. There’s a lot of teasing of action and fighting while characters hurl insults at one another, but not a lot of actual hitting. It’s too subdued. There isn’t clever and smart enough dialogue for that to drive the comic, and not enough people hitting one another to justify the high concept approach.
I love Steve Dillon’s art, but he is miscast on this book. He can do action and fighting when it fits into his strengths, none of which are the big blockbuster type. It seems like Millar tried to turn this high concept approach into something that would suit Dillon’s strengths more, resulting in the half-and-half story that doesn’t work as a character-driven piece or a big dumb blockbuster action flick. Instead of using Dillon on a story that suits him, this comes off as making a story suit Dillon.
Still, Dillon’s art does get the chance to shine at times. The look of amazement and shock on Nick Fury’s face after seeing one of his Giant-Men impale another or the look of smug satisfaction on Captain America’s face as he does in the vampire Nerd Hulk are two examples of Dillon nailing characters.
“Ultimate Comics Avengers 3” never came together as a story. The vampire threat never paid off and the ending feels abrupt. Part of the problem is the mixing of a story and artist that don’t fit, another is that it was paced so horribly that the final conflict was pushed so far back that the only ending that could happen would be an abrupt, unsatisfying one. It’s the sort of writing that led to “The Ultimates” series getting extra pages and added issues, except here we have one issue with 22 pages.