Bruce Castle Presents: Ultimatum Is Almost Here!

Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #3

Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #3 (*****)

This was the best issue of Ultimate Spider-Man in a long time. This series has been a bit disappointing lately with the new Venom arc, but this was a refreshing return to greatness. I’m sad that Mark Brooks wasn’t providing the art. I actually thought that Brooks would have made a better replacement for Bagley. Lafuente does a decent job though. He has a super cartoony style that mostly works well here due to the large quantity of laughs. That’s right folks! USM is hilarious again! That’s what was so great about this issue. It wasn’t the action or the new Ultimate character (It’s a villain. I won’t give away any more. It will remain a mystery until you read it), it was the high-dose of laughter and those oh so lovable teen moments. Peter and MJ talk about sex (There I spoiled something, happy?)! Hey! What did this have to do with Ultimatum? Unless that new villain is the reason, I have no idea why this was an Ultimatum tie-in. Oh and I loved that moment when the girl dressed as 616 Spider-Woman screams “Embrace change! Embrace change!” So awesome!

Ultimate Captain America Annual #1

Ultimate Captain America Annual #1 (***1/2)

I don’t know, but I think Ultimatum might actually be pretty cool. First off, this is such an awesome teaser.

C’mon! How can you not be excited after seeing that!? Anyway, this wasn’t really a Captain America comic. It was really about Black Panther. It’s pretty much his origin and then it explains how he got to Ultimates 3 and such. I don’t know if Loeb just had to get his bearings or if it really was intentional that most of Ultimates 3 seemed so off. At first, it was like Loeb had never read an Ultimates book, but in the last installment of Ultimates 3 and again in this issue, you can tell the man knows his stuff. Continuity is thrown at us in a totally accessible way. I rarely get to see Marko Djurdjevic on interiors, but he provides some stunning work here. There is also a new Ultimate character and the usual Loeb humor (Fury uses a Hulk cutout shooting target. Ha!). This comic is mostly about explanation, but it does plant some seeds that I’m sure we’ll see pop up like daisies soon.

Bruce Castle Presents: Ultimates vs. Ultimates!

Ultimates 3 #5 (of 5) (Cover B - Robot Variant)

Ultimates 3 #5 (***1/2)

Yes, I liked this issue. I’m not so sure about the rest of this series since the first issue came out in December, but I think even the haters should give this a try. The March On Ultimatum tag has been on Ultimate books for a long time. Until recently, I didn’t have a clue what that event was going to be about. In this issue however, you can actually see what’s going down. If you were annoyed by all the Loeb mysteries, you’ll be pleased to know they’re all wrapped up nicely here. I can’t remember enough to tell if these twists were predictable or not, but I was entertained. I was even impressed when some of this stuff goes back to Ultimates 2. I was about to complain about how long it took for this series to finish, but I remembered a few things. Ultimates 2 took even longer to come out and this is Joe Mad we’re talking about, it’s a miracle the book took less than a year to finish. Speaking of Joe Mad, I like his art and it’s nice to see his work on some interiors. Everything resolves, the art is pretty, it’s entertaining, and the stage is set for Ultimatum.

Ultimate Fantastic Four Ultimate X-Men Annual #1 (****)

The fun continues. The art isn’t as pretty as the first part, but Nguyen and Peterson create passable work. It’s interesting how many people worked on just two issues. Two writers and four artists, seems a bit packed but that’s how the story is. This would easily be a six issue arc in the hands of less talented writers. The story is entertaining, but we’ve seen it many times before. So it works as only two issues long. It’ll be interesting to see if we’re looking at the post-Ultimatum Ultimate universe in this book. The story concludes leaving that a possibility, but probably not kind of thing. These annuals have proved to be entertaining What If type reads with some in-continuity growth of the characters, what’s better than that?

Ultimate Spider-Man #126 (***)

Please Bendis, write better. It’s very uncomfortable when USM isn’t good. Mediocrity may be as common as dirt in a lot of comics, but when you have a series where 80% of the issues are good-excellent things seem a bit off. The majority of this issue is the symbiote fighting people while Peter screams inside. It works as an attempt to make the fight scenes seem unique for a few pages, but after the fifth or sixth “HUUUNNNGGRRYYY!” and “No! Please!” I was bored. When you have an issue that relies so heavily on combat, the art needs to be great. I’m not a big fan of Immonen but he does produce good work here. Sadly, it’s not enough. However, the ending is intriguing and the fights are mildly enjoyable so I do recommend it. I just hope this book returns to the level of excellence that I know it’s capable of.