Ultimatum #4

Story by
Art by
Danny Miki, David Finch
Colors by
Peter Steigerwald
Letters by
Cover by
Marvel Comics

It's fair to say that no-one goes into a comic wanting to hate it. Life's too short. I'm not a hater or a fanboy, I'm just a guy who loves comics and loves sharing that enthusiasm with anyone who wants to listen. So when I read an issue of "Ultimatum" for the first time you know I'm going into it with the best of intentions, giving it the benefit of the doubt. I want to like it.

So try to imagine how it feels when I get to a scene in the issue to find Nick Fury describing Reed Richards et al as "bungholes."

There's so much wrong here, it's hard to know where to begin. What "Ultimatum" delivers in scope, it loses in storytelling. This issue ostensibly shuffles no less than 3 characters off the mortal coil in gratuitous, senseless ways that do nothing to advance the story. At this rate, "Ultimatum" is going to be remembered as little more than a snuff film for Marvel fans.

Loeb spends so much time attempting to deliver the broad strokes that no space remains for the finer ones. The characterization is virtually non-existent, and what little there is manages to get it wrong anyway. Loeb makes no perceivable distinction between the way he portrays the Ultimate Hulk and the way he portrays the Marvel Universe Hulk -- exactly what he did with Thor in the poorly-received "Ultimates 3." It does a genuine disservice to anyone who's ever invested time and money into the Ultimate versions of the characters to see these poor imitations taking their place.

Finch's artwork is good, but it's not enough to prevent the issue from being a complete disaster. Taken as individual panels, Finch offers some excellent blockbuster-style images, particularly of the Hulk, but when the time comes for some more nuanced moments (and I use the term lightly, given the quality of the script) his bombastic style instantly falters -- a grave exchange between Logan and Kitty is robbed of all import by his art -- in their final moments together, we can't even see Logan's face, despite the fact he's delivering the majority of the dialogue on the page. It'd be almost funny, if it wasn't happening in one of Marvel's most heavily promoted books of the year.

It's fair to say that despite my best hopes, I didn't like this comic much at all. The best thing I can say about "Ultimatum"? With only one issue to go, well, at least the end will be with us soon. That's something we can all be pleased with.

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