With new co-writer Sam Humphries joining fan favorite Jonathan Hickman, Ultimates keeps on rocking. The Ultimates are left to deal with the fallout from Reed's attack on Washington, and no one knows what to do. What comes next for Earth's Most Ultimate Heroes?
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-Rhodes goes to Colorado to retrieve the Secretary of Energy, who is next in line for US President after Reed's attack.
-Agent Flumm has taken over SHIELD and wants to meet with Fury.
-Fury, Hawkeye, Falcon, and Black Widow escape from the Helicarrier.
-Fury goes invisible and the other three head for California.
-As Tony and Thor prepare to make a plan, Tony passes out.
-Thor takes him to Sue Storm, who tells Tony his Tumor is back.
-Tony informs her that Reed is responsible for the attacks.
-Meanwhile, Reed plans to defend another attack from the US or Tian.
-Back in Asgard, Modi's hand, clutching Thor's hammer, bursts from the World Tree.
It's pretty much a forgone conclusion at this point that every issue of Hickman's Ultimates is going to be awesome. It's like watching Breaking Bad; you don't know what's going to happen - and you don't even care - but you know it's going to be good. Adding Sam Humphries to the team doesn't change that. This is still one heck of a comic book.
The writing continues to be solid. All the characters were well handled, as they have been for the entire series. Of particular note was, once again, Tony Stark's characterization. I loved the little hallucination of who I assume is a young version of himself. He's obviously very serious about the subject, but he embraces it with a playfulness and charm that only he can pull off. It was also really nice to see Sue Storm again. She and Ben have been sorely missing from the relaunched UU, and I think things are going to get really interesting now that she's involved. The same can be said for War Machine, who hopefully continues to play a part in the book.
Along with a new co-writer, the book also has a new artist, but the addition isn't quite as seamless. Luke Ross is talented, there's no doubting that, but he's a definite step down from the awe-inspiring wonder that was Esad Ribic. Ribic brought something really unique to the book, but I don't get the sense of anything like that from this issue. The art is also inconsistent. It ranges from fantastically Hitch-esque, like in the page of the space station, to bland. Only the scene with Tony on the roof really stood out to me as something special, but it also gave me hope that Ross can develop his style to become a solid artist for the book for the few issues he's on board. I think some of the issue is with the coloring, but there's also the awkward face of Agent Flumm in the Triskelion.
To his defense, though, Ross has some stiff competition when it comes to drawing the Ultimates. Bryan Hitch, Leinil Yu, Chris Bachalo, and Esad Ribic, among others, have all brought really unique takes to the team through the years. I'm just not sure I can see me adding Luke Ross to that list ten years from now. But don't get me wrong, he's still a good artist.
There isn't much advancement from the story, which is unfortunate. However, there's some nice setup for the conclusion of the story. The aforementioned Sue moments have a ton of potential. But, most of all, is the moment of Modi bursting out that we've all been waiting for since issue #2. Modi is the one good plot that Loeb left behind, and it's awesome that it's finally being continued. Tony's tumor coming back is unexpected, and the hallucinations add something really cool to the character. Thor is no longer the crazy guy on the team. I also liked the slower pages of DC citizens seeing their final moments. It was reminiscent of, though not quite as impactful as, Ultimate Nightmare #1, which still haunts me to this day. However, as nice as many of these scenes were, I really would have liked to see somber more action from the Children and People.
So while this was a good issue, it was probably my least favorite of the series thus far. But that's like having a least favorite Zeppelin song; it's still going to be better than most others. The issue also sets up for what I know will be an amazing conclusion to one of the best stories going on right now. We have no way of knowing right now what came from Humphries and what from Hickman, but this is still definitely Hickman's story. I look forward to seeing what Humphries will do on his own.
Ultimates continues to be a heck of a book, but this issue is not for those who aren't already in this story. If you want to jump into the story, grab a few back issues and this one will work a lot better for you.