Comic Picks By The Glick

Ultimate Comics Doomsday

May 22, 2011

Okay, so "Write up this review and then go play more ‘L.A. Noire," last night turned into "Hang out, have dinner with friends, then try out the multiplayer modes on ‘Black Ops.'" With that out of the way, let me say that despite its occasionally wonky pacing and lack of focus this was a very entertaining "event" story. Reading it makes me think that Marvel should have run this as their big "NOTHING WILL BE THE SAME!" Ultimate Universe shebang in place of Jeph Loeb's reputedly awful "Ultimatum."

This story takes place several weeks after that event and starts off by having Spider-Woman's plans to investigate a local Roxxon building interrupted when it's consumed by some strange biomass. Things get worse from there as Reed Richards and his family are incinerated in a mysterious energy blast, Nick Fury is attacked by an alien monstrosity, and another biomass threatens to engulf the Baxter Building -- with Sue Storm inside it. This leads to a massive team-up of most of the heroes of the Ultimate Universe as they try to find out who is targeting them and why.

Though I've generally enjoyed the "event" stories that Bendis has written for Marvel over the years ("Secret Invasion" being his best), he has always had a better handle on writing more street-level, crime-focused series and characters. This is true here, especially in the quiet moments between Ben Grimm and Sue as their relationship goes somewhere you'd never see in the regular Marvel Universe, and the interplay between Spiders-Man-and-Woman. However, as interesting as Spider-Woman's subplot about uncovering the evils of Roxxon is, it feels more suited to the pages of "Ultimate Spider-Man" than it does here. Though it provides an unforgettable moment when the two have to make a split-second decision about the fate of Dr. Octopus, their ultimate connection to the story at large is largely replaceable.

Furthermore, while I like Bendis' dialogue, there are certain points when you start to wish he had a better editor. There are certain scenes where the characters stand around talking when they should be dealing with the action at hand, or talking during the action in ways that don't feel believable. Then you have the issue of pacing as the series' momentum grinds to a halt when everyone stands around to talk about what has just happened. I also didn't like how most of the final conflict took up the majority of the last issue, leaving very few pages to explore the fallout of these events. There will be ramifications, and I wish that Bendis had taken the time to set them up in a more satisfying manner.

Despite all this, I did like this series and would recommend it to anyone who has liked the writer's "Ultimate" work in the past. "Ultimate Spider-Man" readers will also want to pick it up not just to see how plot threads started in that series reach there fruition here. In addition to Spider-Woman, you get to see what happened to Ultimate Rick Jones as well. Doing a mostly-unqualified great job on the art here is Rafa Sandoval, who has an energy and style to his work that compares very favorably to that of Stuart Immonen. Regrettably, anyone who has read "Ultimate Spider-Man" will also see that Sandoval and the colorist could've paid more attention to how the characters looked there as certain details (their hair) don't line up with how we've seen them before.

It has issues, but "Ultimate Doomsday" is still a satisfying read. While Bendis may not have Mark Millar's talent for over-the-top action and carnage, I'd still take a flawed event story like this over anything the latter has written recently. Maybe if they pooled their talents and let Millar do the plotting and Bendis do the scripting we'd have the Ultimate "Ultimate" spectacle. Until that happens, this is good enough.

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