Review: Ultimates 3 #5

This, despite the awfulness of the last four issues, was a fairly decent comic. In fact, without actually going back to reread the last four issues, I will tentatively say that issue #5 of the Ultimates 3 “mayhaps” redeems this mini-series, if not Jeph Loeb’s entire comic book writing career.

Whoa. Did you read that right? FYI, I also liked Hulk #6.

Ultimates 3 pays off story threads originally setup by Millar way back in Ultimates 1, namely the Ultron subplot. I love me some Ultron, perhaps that’s why I’m satisfied with the way this story ended… I just kind of wish he’d gotten to the point of it all 2-3 issues sooner. But, it’s a mystery and this is how these things go. Confusion follows confusion followed by more confusion and then BOOM! Startling revelations! I’ve been watching a ton of Thin Man lately. I know things.

To his credit, Loeb doesn’t make us wait until the end for the recap-revelations, he feeds it to us within the first couple of pages:

Ultron replaced the Ultimates body snatcher style with android duplicates!
The Scarlet Witch’s murder was a crime of passion… gross.
The butler did it! (serious lol’ing right there folks.)
Captain America was the Black Panther THE WHOLE TIME! (Well, this isn’t really explained but I’m sure Loeb’ll get to it in the forthcoming Ultimate Captain America Annual.)
Dr. Doom was behind it all?!? (Does this mean Doom is involved in Ultimatum? I may have to revise my Celestial theory.)
Somehow, The Wasp stopped being Asian!!!

Plain and simple, this was a fantastically enjoyable read. We got answers and they were satisfying. To me, at least. Oh, there’s War Machine! And Quicksilver dies! That was sweet. And Hank redeems himself! Okay, sort of. Cap still hates him but apparently the Wasp is ready to get remarried to the schizophrenic wife-beater. Crazy broad…

…why is Janet always written this way? Why can’t she be a real person? This sexist “ditzy dame” garbage just doesn’t cut it anymore, Marvel writers. Maybe you guys could learn a thing or two from the guys over at DC who know how to write female leads. Strong women are WAY sexier than damsels. Anyway…

How does this story sync up with Ultimatum? I don’t know, but all of a sudden I’m excited about it! Also, does anyone else think that the planned/cancelled/rescheduled Ultimates 4 is actually Ultimatum in disguise? Or was this announced somewhere already? Am I behind the curve?

Just about the only thing that still bugs me about this version of the Ultimates (my problem with Janet doesn’t count since she’s written that way in ALL versions of the Avengers) is the characterization of Hawkeye. LAME. I understand the guy has a death wish. Fine. But Loeb has him acting more like a spoiled brat than a man on the edge. Make him desperate, but not too desperate. Cut the melodrama, dude. It’s unnecessary.

Oh, and the art looks better. But the coloring still sucks. DCBS sent me the “Ultron Variant”, which I have to say as a fan of all things Sci-Fi/Horror kicks the crap out of the regular cover. “Terminator” Cap is the complete filth, do you not agree?

Ultimates 3 was lame and stupid most of the time, and in no way lives up to the epics that preceded it, but it was also fun. It was the “ultimate” funnybook. I think that above all else (including pretentious pretendering) shouldn’t comics be fun?

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.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #32 – THE GROANERS!

“Ah, I’m so lazy this week.” – Billy Zonos

Instead of doing the usual coverage of my twice-monthly DCBS shipment, I thought I’d split my remaining reviews into separate Roundups divided by overall quality: The Groaners, The Mediocres and The Gooders. This, obviously, is The Groaners. For those that have read the following books, yes, I feel your pain. For those that have not, yes, you dodged a bullet and your wallet thanks you.

Anna Mercury #2 (**): OH MY GOD. This one is awful. Forget every nice thing I said about the first issue. This series reads likes it’s based on an idea that’s 10 years old. You got me, Ellis. Oh, you bastard.

Dreamwar #3 (**1/2): Things are not looking up. Finally, we get some kind of explanation… well, no. We get Superman crying after Batman is killed, “Hal… Ollie’s dead. Why didn’t it matter to us? What are we doing?” Yeah, I’d love the answer to that one too. Please? Thanks. Oh, wait… Zealot killed Batman:

Justice League of America #22 (*): One. I hate the Amazo story from the opening arc. Two. I still hate it. Three. Why does every woman that Benes draws look like a total whore? Four. Black Canary serves it up fresh. Wait, that was awesome! Five. Red Tornado… don’t care!!!

The Programme #12 (-): To be honest, I skimmed it and then read the end. Of what I read, I have no idea what this book was supposed to be about and I don’t really care to ever know.

Runaways #30 (*1/2): It could have been worse. If you skip the first 15 or 16 pages, the wrap-up is kind of nice. My favorite/best part of this travesty? Finding out just how fucked up Nico has become.

Amazing Spider-Man #563 (**1/2): Note to Bob Gale – Stop telling cheesy jokes. This has been a message from your readership.

Superman #677 (*): Um, is this supposed to be in continuity? Superman talks like a fucking idiot! Misogyny? Check. Naiveté? Check. I mean, shit. The guy talks about his dog like a 7-year old would. How lame is this? I thought Robinson was this huge talent? And who the heck is this lame-ass Atlas character? GAH! I didn’t think it could get worse than the Busiek Superman run, but this one has shown me the error of my ways.

Superman/Batman #49 (**1/2): I’m surprised how bad this was as compared to the other 5 parts of this story. The end just didn’t work for me. I don’t buy Lana Lang trying to poison the earth with Kryptonite in order to force Supes to leave, never mind the fact that she has been behind this plot the whole time. This is just ludicrous to me. This story is definitely out of continuity. I don’t see Johns or Robinson paying much attention to this particular change in the Clark/Lana dynamic. Oh, but I did like that final page (with Batman inside that vault filled with all types of Kryptonite): Yep, Bats is a douchebag.

Trinity #3-4 (**): This book is boring. And ugly. Bagley doing DC characters just doesn’t look right. As much as I hate doing it, I’m dropping this book. Maybe if the plot picks up later, I’ll jump back in. For now, I’m just gonna ignore it. Sit it out like my pal, Superman.

The Ultimates #4 (*): I don’t know what bugs me more? The awful plot or the “ripped straight from cheesy movie” dialogue? “Come with me if you want to live.” Really? REALLY?!?!

Uncanny X-Men #499 (**1/2): I loved the first 4 parts… this was a jumbled mess. The A and B plot did not sync up well, every cutaway was painful, and the revelation that the mysterious hippie woman was Mastermind’s daughter was actually a non-event. Meanwhile, back in Russia… their faces: priceless.

Wolverine #66 (*): MOST OVER-RATED BOOK OF THE YEAR. Everyone is literally jacking off into each other’s mouths over this one… I just don’t see it. This book is atrocious. So atrocious, someone needs to give it a red power ring. DING. I mean, BIG DEAL, Millar is adapting “Unforgiven” and using Wolverine to play the role of William Muny. I don’t care! Why!?!? Why is this a good idea? (And I like westerns…)

X-Men: Legacy #213 (**): Are we ready for some super-retcons? So, let me break this one down: Mr. Sinister has a machine that in the event of his death will transfer his essence into the body of Professor X? 

And on that note… I’ll post The Mediocres tomorrow, maybe. Hey, it’s the Fourth of July, I may be busy. Like, drinking and stuff.

Review: Ultimates 3 #4

SPOILERS!!!

Whew! The wait is over! Ok, so it wasn’t that bad of a wait because there are much better comics to keep you satisfied, but the wait is over all the same. Well this is the other Jeph Loeb title coming out now so of course this is another title getting lots of flak. Jeph Loeb is the comic aficionado’s whipping boy. However, unlike Hulk, I can kind of board that Loeb hating bandwagon on this one. The main theme of this comic for me was-what?

The story opens in a black and white flashback scene with Magneto, Professor X, and little Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. Aren’t they cute? They crash-land into the Savage Land. We get to see little Ka-Zar and little Shanna, ok these little versions of characters are cute.

We travel back to the present and the now adult Ka-Zar and Shanna talk about how Magneto slaughtered half their tribe including their parents. They’ve waited for years to overthrow him. We then take a look at Tony Stark’s mansion and Iron Man is choking Wasp. Captain America bashes Iron Man in the mouth and he’s a robot? Cap is a robot too? What the hell? Hank Pym shows up and tells Wasp that there is a conspiracy everywhere and he thinks he is to blame.

Back to the savage land and Hawkeye shoots some people. Sabretooth attacks Clint, and Ka-Zar’s pals start taking chunks out of Sabretooth. There is some more mystery with Black Panther. Juggernaut pops out of nowhere and punches Wolverine in the back. Isn’t Juggernaut supposed to be dead? Valkyrie is flying around, oh wait it’s all been a dream, she isn’t really special? No, that is just Mastermind. Ok, that’s cool, but why is Pyro standing there with Mastermind and talking about basically raping her before he kills her. First off, man that is fucked up, and two, isn’t Pyro a good guy? That’s what he was in Kirkman’s X-Men run right?

Thor is kicking some ass, ok that’s cool. He beats the shit out of Unus and I think he bashes his head in with his hammer. That’s what it looks like he did. Man this is a graphic comic. Magneto shows up and starts screwing with mjolnir. Ok, I don’t like that idea, but Magneto has done that before even way back in the Stan Lee Thor, so you can’t blame that on Loeb. Quicksilver shows up wearing almost a copy of Magneto’s costume, um ok. Magneto asks him if his sister is safe. So, she didn’t die then. This whole mystery murder thing meant nothing? I hope not.

Back at Tony’s mansion we get a nice moment with Wasp and Hank Pym. See? That’s something good. The issue ends with a group of Ultimates robots surrounded by a Yellowjacket looking character with red eyes. Hank Pym tells Wasp that this is their son. So, Ultron I guess?

Ok, as much as I’d like to, I can’t really defend this one. I’ve read every single Ultimate comic ever published (that’s right I read Ultimate Adventures) and there are still continuity issues that confused me in here. Since when was Pyro evil? When did Juggernaut come back? There seems to be a mystery on almost every page. Which I guess is innovative, but without many answers, it’s beginning to wear thin.

On the plus side, there is some cool action in here. I’m still loving Joe Mad’s art. I’ve heard people say that they don’t like his look on this book, but this isn’t Ultimates 2. Loeb is going for something new and for what he is going for, the art works really well.

Also, this ultra macho dialogue has completely worn out its welcome. I mean I realize this is a comic but c’mon. Maybe it’s still the transition between Ultimates 2 and Ultimates 3 that is highlighting everything. This comic is extremely different from Ultimates 2 and it’s still hard to get used to the change. Or maybe it’s because of the extreme lateness of this issue which never helps. Who knows? When everything is tied together and you read it in trade it may all make sense and be good. I hope so.

2 stars out of four