Ultimates 13: Review

After a six month wait, Ultimates 13 is upon us. Rob should be happy. But he's not. Bah.

So after a six month wait for Issue 13, Ultimates fans finally get to see the finale of ‘Season 2’ of Marvel’s widescreen blockbuster. Was it worth the wait?

Well yes and no.

Visually the book looks superb, with Bryan Hitch doing some of the best work of his career with the awe-inspiring eight-page fold out middle spread showing one of the best battle scenes ever put down in a comic book. Visually, it’s simply great,

However this is where the ‘good’ stops and the ‘bad’ starts to slip in. The overall tone of the book is set in the aftermath of a mega-battle between the ‘Liberators’ and the ‘Ultimates’. So within the wreckage of Washington, and amid the carnage of torn off limbs, exploded heads and millions of dollars worth of trashed Mechs, the team only has a moment to catch their breath before they are once again thrown back into the fray between Thor and his evil half brother Loki in the mother of all fantasy battles.

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While this huge event finally clears the air and shows that Ultimate Thor is indeed the thunder god rather than a raving nutter, this whole ‘asgard invasion’ plot seems a little rushed, taking only half an issue to resolve (to think when the book started it took at least three issues to take the Hulk down).

Readers in the first half of the book are treated with panels of giant wolves, ice giants and 101 other Norse-based villains all ready and willing to invade earth. Added to this come numerous amounts of orc-like cannon fodder extras for the ‘heroes’ to have a go at, and well.. that’s it really

This whole first half of the book is sort of like the computer game Myst, which looked gorgeous but had no real substance. The Ultimates are really only secondary to the whole event and hardly anyone gets a line of dialogue, with most of the cast mulling around and spending their time generally punching stuff off-panel . It’s only really Thor himself that gets to do anything worth mentioning, when he goes all ‘Mallet’s Mallet’ on Loki’s head.

And then, just like that, it ends. It all seems very ‘volia, thank you very much for the wait … there was your pay-off, now live with it… we have to set up the next season’.

And that’s what we get, after a panel of two of some self congratulatory back slapping and some dubious lines of dialogue from Tony Stark aka Iron Man (not to mention a cool if brief Hawkeye moment), we are then treated to what can only really be called the set-up for Ultimates III. It’s like the creative team were paid for their ideas for half an issue, with the rest of the comic just as a setup for Jeff Loeb and Joe Mad to come along next year and continue milking this cash-cow.

This editorial tinkering really shows as both Hitch and Millar sort of ‘give up’ by the final half of the book, with the battle aftermath filled with empty panels and shallow dialogue. This sense of throwing in the towel really comes to a head at the very end where we get a flashback to Captain America before he becomes the super-soldier. Why is this in there? It just seems to be a page filler, rather than a fitting conclusion to the book.

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Granted, it served its purpose to deliver a grand finale to the story arc, but really, that was it. Maybe it was that fans were expecting more or the build-up and anticipation was too big, but Ultimates 13 is a big let down. While not on the scale of the bad ending of Miller’s ‘Wanted’ comic book, the Captain America finale just seemed to be tacked on and a bad payoff after such a long wait.