Divided We Fall, United We Stand is finally over... where will Sam Humphries take the Ultimates now? Joined by new artist Scott Eaton, Humphries brings us part 1 of "Reconstruction."
end of spoilers
-Cap meets with Mr. Ford, who is pulling the strings of California's new governor.
-Ford is asking for help with problems they are having with Nevada, Cap tells them to figure it out on the State level.
-Insulted by Ford's threats, Cap tackles Ford through a wall.
-At a football game, Tony shows up as Iron Patriot to flip the coin.
-Hydra uses a SHIELD satellite to attack the game; Tony destroys the satellite.
-Commander Chang meets with a recovering Cassie Lang and invites her to the Ultimates; she accepts.
-Sue Storm meets with Thor, and reveals that there are two more gems in SHIELD custody, along with a glove that fits them.
-The glove has space for a fourth; Sue asks Thor's help to find it, but he's reluctant.
-Cap stops a Hydra attack at the Chicago Stock Exchange.
-Monica reveals to Cap that the man who is behind all these Hydra attacks is Scorpio, Nick Fury in disguise!
To be continued...
Warning: there are some minor spoilers for USM #18 in this review.
It's not a secret that many of us have been down on the Ultimates by Humphries so far. I've been hopeful that getting out of the event will help things, and it seems that they have. Without being forced to deal with what turned out to be a pretty bland crossover, Humphries stretches his legs a bit. But there is still room for improvement.
My biggest complaint of Humphries so far has been the voices for his characters. None of them have been bad, but few have been truly good. Everything has just been bland, and that continues here. There's no awful "goat dung" dialogue like Loeb gave us, but there's no powerful "Brother, I regret everything" moments from Hickman's run either. And that's what makes this so hard to critique for me. I can't call out any of the moments where these characters are wrong, because there really aren't any. If any character stands out as Humphries's best, it's Tony. I like his fun-loving, cocky Iron Man, but I'd like to see him go deeper with this Iron Patriot, so hopefully we'll get that soon. And if any is his worst, it's Thor. Again, it's not bad, but I feel like Thor could have been much more poignant in the scene with Sue Storm; he leaned a lot more towards Loeb's Thor than Hickman's (which itself was a perfect combination of Loeb and Millar's takes on the character).
The story wasn't bad, either, but it was a bit slow, considering we just had a setup issue with #18.1. However, this was still part 1 of an arc, so I'll excuse that, I suppose. To be honest, while I'm not crazy about this issue as a standalone, I like it for what it is. This is more a broad look at our status quo than a big "change is happening" type issue. Humphries sets up the search for the fourth gem, which is exciting, and introduces a new Ultimates member (it's hard to say "reintroduce" since we hardly met Cassie before). It would have been nice to see more of these new Ultimate members that were teased in the last issue. I liked the focus on Hydra as a continuing threat; a status quo threat rather than a one-off evil. And, of course, there's the big reveal of Scorpio at the end. My "bonus moment" for this issue was Thor going to see Hela. It was inconsequential, but I liked the nod to the past.
I know a lot of people were worried about who Scorpio would be, but I'm happy with this reveal. While it was one of the more obvious twists, I'm a fan. Fury has been off the table too long. And while Fury vs Danvers already happened recently in Millar's Avengers run, it could be interesting to see him take on the role of a true villain, which might be where this is going. Though I'm sure he'll be a good guy at the end of the day, I don't know how he'll justify all these attacks on SHIELD.
As for the art, I don't find myself going one way or the other on it. Some of the scenes - particularly the opening one - are great, but others - Tony in Space, for instance - leave a lot to be desired for me. I don't think Eaton is the right fit for this book, but he's at least a solid artist. The last page is great, too - and that's one of the most important things in an artist for me - leaving on a good note. I really like that page with Scorpio.
So, as expected, this series continues to slowly improve. I like the setup for this arc, and I hope it keeps getting better. That said, there's still a lot of room to grow.
This is a great place to jump on if you're looking for one. It's all setup, but the story that comes from it looks to be a good one.