All-New Ultimates #1 (Review) – Spoilers

imagePower for Power

Writer: Michel Fiffe

Artists: Amilcar Pinna

Colorist: Nolan Woodard

Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Cover Artist: David Yakayama

Assistant Editor: Emily Shaw

Editor: Mark Paniccia

Plot:The All-New Ultimates have banded together to bust up the secret drug labs of Hell’s Kitchen. The issue features appearances by Ultimate Diamondback and Styx & Stone.

Thoughts: The following is my review for All-New Ultimates #1. I’m sorry if I have any confusion over the plot for this issue. Apparently before reading this I should have read something called Survive #1. I haven’t, and until today I wasn’t aware this was tied to that, nor did Marvel help themselves by not calling it Ultimate Survive, or Ultimate Comics Survive, or anything that would have helped the reader find the book.

imageI’m also not going to go read Survive, as I don’t think anything with “All-New” or “#1” on the cover should require me to do homework. Mini-rant over.

I really do like the premise of this series. Spider-Man and the other super powered teen from the last arc of Ultimate Spider-Man have teamed up to form the new Ultimates. They meet in an abandoned church, and are going to work together to protect New York from the criminal element. I was a huge fan of the last arc of Ultimate Spider-Man and was looking forward to what this series promised. A superpowered, but emotionally damaged team, taking on street level crime sits perfectly in my wheelhouse.

Honestly though I don’t think this first issue delivered on the strengths of the concept. A large pull here was that the book featured the cast of Ultimate Spider-Man, but neither Miles nor Ganke is well represented in these pages. Miles’ role on the team is largely similar to that of Peter in the Avengers. Stand at the back of the scene, let the others talk and make the occasional sarcastic comment to remind people there’s a Spider-Man in the room to help sales. Meanwhile Ganke is shown as a Lego obsessed thrill seeker, risking his safety for imported sets. This portrayal makes Ganke seem very one-demensional. He could have been picking up something for Gwen, or buying supplies for Miles’ web fluid, or something new. The Lego comments probably stand out as Bendis relied heavily on this in Ultimate Spider-Man #200. It’s not the writers at fault, but the repetition does make the character feel rather one-note. If it is referred to again in Miles Morales #1 I’m going to start speculating that Marvel plan to turn Ganke into a lego-themed super criminal. In this story, Ganke is mugged while searching out his illicit Lego on the mean streets of Hell’s Kitchen, so Miles invites him to stay with him, leading to the biggest question I have. Where is Miles living? His father abandoned him during Cataclysm, and as far as I know this has not yet been resolved. If the answer was in Survive, Marvel failed.

imageThe other members of the team don’t really fair well either. Over the last few issues of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, and Cataclysm, Bendis did a lot of work to flesh out the character of Bombshell. Here, Fiffe presses the reset button. Bombshell is unavailable to train with the team on Saturdays, as that’s “date night” with her “Peoy”. I don’t know who that refers to, but her boyfriend (Sid) was killed, shortly after they broke up, during Cataclysm. These events seemed to distress Bombshell, and helped to fuel her heroism. I was looking forward to exploring the fallout from this, but it doesn’t seem like this series will address any of it. This is a very different character to the one who attended Peter’s memorial. Jessica Drew’s character motivations are just as strange to me. The publicity for this series had mentioned she was changing from Spider-Woman to Black Widow, and I was interested in why she decided to make the change. However there is no purpose given, and she doesn’t even warn her team that she is changing her look. This leads to some confusion when they go into battle together. I think the main reason for the change is that there are three brunette girls on the team, and we need to be able to tell the difference somehow.

If i ignore the off-beat or strange character moments, the plot is serviceable. Jessica Drew has learned that an illegal Roxxon lab is about to launch an untested drug on the streets. The drug is believed to give users superpowers, but it could also have deadly consequences, and the new Ultimate’s meet to discuss how to stop the dealers. However despite the urgency of their meeting the group disband, Bombshell goes to meet her date, and Jessica goes for a hair cut/pizza party with Kitty Pryde. It’s only by accident that they are able to track down the dealers at the end of the issue. So while the premise is interesting enough poor characterisation and dialogue (“Don’t tell me you’re bailing now, Meathead”), really stop me from enjoying the issue.

imageI have never seen the art work of Amilcar Pinna before, and all I can really say is it was not pleasing to my eye. A good superhero artist needs to be able to draw talking heads, as well as kinetic action scenes, and I don’t think that Pinna has that balance yet. The action sequences did convey movement, I will give credit where it’s due, but the civilian identities look very unusual for a Marvel book. Kitty and Ganke look nothing like what I’ve come to expect, and there were times Bombshell looked more like her mother than a teenage girl. I don’t know if Penna created the new look for Black Widow, but I don’t think the 90’s jacket was a particularly good idea. I also found the color pallet used to be very off putting. The pink hew gives the book a retro feel, that doesn’t really fit with the tone of the modern Ultimate universe. I’m not against Marvel trying new things with their art, but this is a drastic departure from Dave Marquez. This style might be better suited to a new set of characters.

Grade- D: A disappointing start to what I thought would be an interesting series. I was hoping to get an understanding of why this team was founded, but that was hidden away in another book while plots I was enjoying and wished to see continue have been forgotten or ignored. The characters don’t really look or sound recognisable at this stage either. An interesting premise does give me some faith this series can be redeemed, but overall this is not a strong start to a new ultimate era.


(16) Comments

  1. Adam S.

    The art in this was okay. Based on what I've seen in this issue, Pinna's art can be kinda wonky at times, especially when it comes to faces. I saw someone make the point that the coloring might not suit the art. If you go to his website or Deviantart page, you'll see that most of his art is flatly colored, which, depending on your art preferences, might look better than how it's colored in the issue. To me, it looks better. Ultimately, I thought he drew a good Spider-Man.

  2. Adam T - Post author

    Interesting that you say it as modern, there were times the psychedelic colors reminded me of the eighties. Even parts of the story felt dated, Ganke clearly has some sort of MP3 player, yet his mugger chose to steal his watch.

  3. Brian

    I think this issue is ok. Sometimes funny, sometimes "modern". Its the first one, its too early to say it sucks.

  4. George Berryman

    @3 - "Worst issue of the year? Have you been reading the New Warriors reviews?" God that's for damn sure. Brad and I get into the awfulness that is New Warriors on the next satellite reviews podcast.

  5. hornacek

    @9 - Bring on Ultimate Gibbon and Ultimate Grizzly! @10 - There are no poor characters, only poor writers?

  6. Adam T

    I was going to mention finding Styx and Stone at the bottom of the Ultimate barrel. I thought there must be higher profile character they could have used, but this issue is largely set up, so I'm going to see how they utilize these characters. There are no poor characters.

  7. hornacek

    @7 - "Ultimate Styx and Stone" - wait, does this mean only Styx is ultimate? Coming soon in All-New Ultimates ... Ultimate Femme Fatales Ultimate Knight and Fogg Ultimate Jury

  8. Andrew Roebuck

    Wow I am surprised everyone disliked this issue so much. I thought it was a fun take on the Ultimate Heroes that deals with the aftermath of Cataclysm fairly well. Miles Morales sounded just like his Ultimate self to me, and I really enjoyed the artwork. That being said you know that you are out of characters to introduce in the Ultimate Universe when Ultimate Styx and Stone appear.

  9. hornacek

    @4 - I'm not reading NW but I've been reading the reviews here - it started average and has gotten worse with each review.

  10. Lockdown

    Yes it is. I will give this a pass. Trade worthy and I'll give my 2 cents tomorrow with my review.

  11. Geoff

    This issue sucked big time. It was so weird too, it seemed like the writer had never read a single issue s UC:SM. The art was really odd too. Why did it look like miles changed into his civilian clothes in the middle of the street when he's taking Ganke home? This is going to be a contender for worst issue of the year, I just know it. I'll be sticking to Miles solo book from now on! Rant over.

  12. hornacek

    I don't recognize this writer, but when I saw his name I instantly thought of this quote:

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