end of spoilers
-The Ultimates sit around in the Triskelion, and Jessica tells them about the Power Pack incident.
-Miles falls asleep in class.
-Lana (Bombshell) meets with her parole officer, who tells her she broke parole and is going to call SHIELD. She says she wants to be a hero now.
-Later, Miles is suited up again and puts an end to a non-super skirmish.
-Dagger asks Cloak to take her home; she wants to see her family.
-Her family is gone, and she decides she wants to keep being a superhero.
-Suddenly, GALACTUS SHOWS UP!
To be continued...
Right off the bat, this was a lot better than Cataclysm #1. This is the kind of story that Bendis is better suited to, rather than the universe-sprawling epics. That said, this is still far from a perfect issue, riddled with a lot of the problems I've had with Bendis's writing over the past few years.
The USM characters are all fantastic, as usual. I love that each person got a spotlight. However, it an ass-backwards kind of way, Miles was the least important part of this issue. He was the focus character in the book called Ultimates Last Stand, yet he barely did anything here. I know that might sound odd coming from me, considering how much I've complained about the lack of supporting cast, but I still want Spider-man to have a good role in a book called Ultimate Spider-man. The school scene was a decent moment for Miles, but the Spidey scene was boring (not to mention questionable timeline-wise... we'll see). But as much as I loved seeing the school again, why couldn't Ganke or Kate have even a single line of dialogue? This girlfriend has been so meaningless. It would have been much better to expand that scene rather than putting Miles in costume again, which was an awkward transition as it was.
The other scenes were pretty good, though. The Power Pack have been a great addition to the book, even if it means less focus on the non-powered cast (remember when Bendis used to be able to balance the Amazing Friends AND Gwen, May, and MJ AND the Daily Bugle?).
I mentioned in the preview thread that I was happy about seeing the Ultimates relax again. One of my favorite Ultimates moments was when they were sitting around talking about who would play them in a movie, and there have been a few other great scenes like that through the years. But I felt like Tony was the only character that Bendis really nailed. Cap's cluelessness makes sense, but his character seems dumbed down to the freshly unfrozen Chris Evans version from the Avengers movie ("I get that reference!"). And Thor's terrible attempt to turn a phrase sounds like something straight out of Archer ("I had something for this..."). The tone of the scene was great, and even the idea behind the characterizations was okay, but the dialogue could have been a lot better. I really like Monica here though; she and Jessica saved the scene.
The art, as usual - fantastic. Marquez really excels at character designs, even when his backgrounds are digital and stale. I love the look he's given Lana out of costume, and the rest of the Power Pack looks as good as they did in Spider-man No More. Miles in action is great, of course. He even shows that he could be a good Ultimates artist, though I'll wait to see them in action first. The "That was classified..." panel of Monica was probably my favorite art moment of the issue, showing how good Marquez is with facial expressions. As we discussed in the preview thread, the coloring is a bit off in the first scene, but as Ponsor takes over for the rest of the book it looks outstanding. I like Paul Mounts, but something's not right at the beginning.
(I'm only guessing about where the color switch takes place. I apologize to Paul Mounts if I got that wrong, but that's where I think it happens).
As a story, this is a transition between the last arc of USM and Cataclysm. It's pretty light on story, but it's got good character moments throughout, something that was really missing from the first issue of Cataclysm. As usual, I wish this could have been compressed a bit more. But it's actually pretty packed for a modern Bendis comic; the difference is that this is part of a three issue arc, not a six issue one. With only two more issues to go, I hope that the Power Pack vs Galactus can be substantial.
Like I said, this is definitely an improvement from Cataclysm #1, but it's still not Bendis at his best.