After a few delays, “Ultimate Comics Armor Wars” reaches its conclusion as Tony Stark closes in on the thief known as the Ghost and reclaims his stolen technology. Except, oops, the Ghost just shot Tony into the Thames and he’s going to die unless the British police in his stolen Iron Man technology decide to save him. Because having a brain tumor wasn’t bad (or quick) enough apparently.
Warren Ellis’ take on Ultimate Tony Stark has been one of the best, beginning with “Ultimate Human” and continuing in this series, this issue giving Ellis a chance to show another side of the character as he faces the man behind the theft of his Iron Man technology. The identity is somewhat shocking and is someone close to Stark that no one, not even he, would have guessed responsible for this. Ellis crafts the man responsible in the mould of many other Ellis-penned characters, but that cranky charm of his always works — for this reviewer, at least.
Another side of Stark is also demonstrated in his interactions with Justine Hammer, which will no doubt bring to mind comparisons of his romance with the Black Widow in “The Ultimates 2.” One of the questions of this issue is: has Stark finally found some happiness or is he destined to be alone again? In his drawing of the interaction between Justine and Tony, Steve Kurth does some of his best character work of the series so far. He’s shown an aptitude for depicting technology in the first three issues, but his people haven’t been done nearly as well, something he changes in this issue.
Kurth’s Stark and Justine have a genuine tenderness in their faces and body language toward one another. Later in the issue, he depicts Stark’s emotions vividly, adding flavor and feeling to Ellis’ writing. His variations on the Iron Man armor continue to pop up in this issue as well and he manages to provide interesting, distinct versions of the armor while maintaining a base visual style that lets us know that this is Stark-designed technology. Walking that line between giving us something new and different without making it too new or different is tough, but Kurth walks it well.
The conclusion to this story, though, comes off as rushed somewhat. The resolution of the various plot threads just pops up out of nowhere, purposefully so, but the use of a deus ex machina causes the resolution to fall flat somewhat. It reads like the story needed to end, so the path of least resistance was taken. Ellis’s specialty in this issue is the character and that shines, but the plot is somewhat thin.
“Ultimate Comics Armor Wars” was a fun story and it ends as such. Ellis’ Ultimate Tony Stark is a wonderfully entertaining character, one that I could read about every month.