The Ultimates #8

by H├ęctor A on June 22, 2016

Writer: Al Ewing
Art: Kenneth Rocafort
Colors: Dan Brown
Publisher: Marvel
 

Civil War II isn't a terrible idea but as people have pointed out, the plot has been less than stellar. What we've gotten from the main series so far has ranged from passable to atrocious, depending on who you ask (at least I think Kalem liked it), but some of these tie-ins have shown that there's potential in its premise and The Ultimates might be the most intriguing tie-in we get from this event. Aside from Carol Danvers being one of the protagonists of the event, the series has been a must-read since its run started and Ewing has constantly addressed topics similar to the one of Civil War II.

 

The Ultimates are portrayed as civil servants with all of its members being pre-occupied with transparency. This series has one of the most effective uses of the recap page I can recall as it clearly delineates what is and what isn't publicly divulged by The Ultimates. It's one of the threads that make this series so interesting, it remains to be seen where Ewing goes with it but I'm worried he's setting them up for failure with the classified section of the recaps getting bigger and bigger with each issue. Ewing ties into the topic of predestination through flashbacks to the formation of The Ultimates, giving some background as to why Carol takes the pro-Ulysses side.

 

Among the reasons why this issue succeeds is that Ewing treats all of the characters with an appropiate degree of subtlety. For instance, the “YO DUDES WAIT DID WE JUST SEE ULYSSES' VISION??” reveal at the end of Civil War #2 is so ham-fisted and Ewing alludes to the same ability in a way that feels more sincere. I can't help but compare the way this story is told to us in the main mini and here after seeing that and especilla the fallout of the fight with Thanos. Here, Spectrum speaks about what their duty was whereas in Civil War #1 it basically amounted to people aggressively mourning. We're getting roughly the same story but told in a more fulfilling manner.

 

However, with all the universe-altering events unfolding in this book and this event can feel like some of the characters are a bit lost. I think the series has mostly struck the right balance between portraying The Ultimates in action and their inner lifes, these are not archetypical characters but sometimes I'm not satisfied with their portrayal. In this issue, there's a tender conversation about the nature of their job between Spectrum and Blue Marvel, which culminates with a kiss. It was actually… pretty awkward (Isn't Blue Marvel an octogenarian? If she's made of light and he's made of anti-matter, is age-difference even a concern to them?). And we haven't seen enough of Ms. America, she doesn't have a single line in this issue. Ewing did show some of her life outside The Ultimates on previous issues but some times it's striking how little she speaks to her teammates. We get to see Captain Marvel recruiting every member of the Ultimates except America, I wonder if that's because she's going to take the opposite side in the CW conflict but as things stand, it was a strange omission. Especially since instead Ewing shows a Cabal-like organization speaking about her.

 

One thing Rocafort and Brown have excelled at is their art for all-new characters. We got Galactus' incubator, the re-desing of Galactus as Lifebringer and now we got Xarggu! They really deserve to be recognized on this front, Xarggu is basically a one-off joke but his design is outstanding. I honestly want to see him again. Phillip Vogt (another new character who appears to be a new antagonist) was also great, I never thought someone saying “troubleshooters” would give me chills. Introducing a new character can be hard and I understand why WFH creators refrain from it. There's a handful of people in the 616 who I could see kind of fulfilling Vogt's role but Ewing makes him memorable enough to stand out.

 

Civil War II has been kind of a bummer but this repackages the strengths of the event without its weaknesses. Ewing avoids the usual pitfalls of big crossovers as he manages to integrate the topics of the event almost seamlessly into The Ultimates. Also, I seriously want more Xarggu.

Our Score:

8/10

A Look Inside