Everybody fights for some reason as Doom does nothing! Miles cameos at the end!
WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILER: Mark Bagley
INKER: Scott Hanna
COLORIST: Justin Ponsor
LETTERER: VC’s Cory Petit
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Manny Mederos
ASSISTANT EDITORS: Chris Robinson & Emily Shaw
EDITOR: Mark Paniccia
STORY: Everybody goes after the Tonys since they stole a Hulk. The Tonys respond in kind by launching all available Iron Man armors to stall them. Meanwhile, the Ultimate Punisher tries to assassinate Bombshell, who in turn gets rescued by Cloak and Dagger. The Punisher escapes and Ultimate Iron Man recruits the teen trio for something. At Doomstadt, Valeria questions why Doom allows the anomaly of the two Earths cohabiting Manhattan, especially as the Tonys are investigating opening a rift of their own. The heroes erupt into battle inexplicably as Miles swings into the last panel.
THOUGHTS: What a disjointed, nonsensical mess. Before we get into what I didn’t care for, let’s offer a brief focus about what worked, namely the art. It should come as no surprise that I again have to give high marks to Bagley and Hanna. They really are the highlight of this issue. Everything looks great-from Spidey’s Spider-Sense going off, Fury’s shock, the reenactment of the Iron Man 3 finale, all of it. The only small caveat I have is that Valeria looks a little close to Gwen Stacy in certain shots. Job well done, gentlemen. While we’re at it, Justin Ponsor’s colors are as vibrant as always.
So, Fury takes the heroes of Earths 616 and 1610 to go after the 616 Hulk who was freed last issue by the Starks. They are greeted by an impressive sight-just about every Iron Man armor you can think of. We’re talking old and clunky to All-New and I loved zooming in to admire all the variants I could identify. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I have a soft spot for the Silver Centurion and the red and yellow suit that followed the first Armor Wars. Bagley even threw in the Heroes Reborn armor!
Everyone starts to tussle and because he’s Ultimate Captain America, 1610 Steve Rogers quickly realizes it’s all a distraction, prompting the Tonys to depower all the suits, save one. Ironically, it’s the suit Stark was wearing when the Avengers discovered the Capsicle back in Avengers #4, a relevance lost on Ultimate Steve. 616 Tony declares Ultimate Fury has no authority over himself or 616 Banner.
This whole scene is much ado about nothing. Two huge forces fight for some reason only for the Tonys to simply give up their distraction once they get found out. What are they stalling for then? It boils down to a childlike “Let’s fight cuz you’re not the boss of me” and it’s over. Does the team extract 616 Banner? Does Tony, either of them, pull a rabbit out of their hat ensuring their freedom from Fury, the dimension, or Doom himself? No. The only point I can see for this beat to exist is for the art to just look cool.
The story transitions to Bombshell, trying to cope with an unhinged 1610 Frank Castle. He gets enveloped by Cloak and somehow fights his way out of his shadow dimension. This surprises the heroes as much as the reader. Is Doom magnifying the Punisher’s abilities from behind the scenes, or has the merging of Earths taken its toll on Cloak’s abilities? Maybe it’s just story convenience. Ultimate Iron Man, or at least the Ultimate Iron Man armor, appears after the Punisher’s escape, asking the young heroes for help. What could he have planned?
Meanwhile, at Castle Doomstadt, Valeria tries to bring a matter to Doom’s attention, mainly that a faction of the Manhattan inhabitants are violating the direct order handed down by the Thors to them after they executed 616 Hawkeye. As Valeria briefs Doom in voiceover, we see a rift form in the team-up between Tonys as 616 wants to keep their research under the radar and 1610 wants to present their findings to Doom in order to play it safe. Doom keeps his reasons for why he created Manhattan that way to himself, but it seems as if he is making it his own petri dish.
Where this falls apart is when the Tonys gather their sides against each other. Did their division happen with the combined heroes outside? How did they rally everyone from their world to their side? You would think that some would agree with one Stark’s perspective, and some with another, no matter what world they were from. There is no major inciting incident to cause them to fight so wantonly. Does one need to read the not-released-yet Secret Wars #5 to gain understanding? And where the hell did the Ultimate Hulk come from? His whereabouts were left a mystery last issue and we get no payoff from that. Then, Old Man Logan randomly pops up on the side. How did he get into Manhattan? We are now finally caught up to where we were at the beginning of the first issue, except we still have no answers really as to what’s going on.
We have one issue left and I don’t feel this story has lived up to the publicity and hype that Marvel drummed up prior to its start. If you’ve followed the Ultimate Universe, especially the Spider-Man corner of it, none of it has really had any play in this series, not in terms of wrapping up the universe. Even Miles, who is on this issue’s cover, literally swings in on the last page for one panel. ONE PANEL. He doesn’t even interact with anyone. Also missing this issue is a hero interacting with their doppelganger in a one-on-one character moment. We’ve gotten Spidey/female clone, Iron Men, the Hulks, and the Punishers, but no one gets their moment this issue. The Caps could’ve had an ideological discussion prior to the fight, at least!
The art saves this from a lower grade, but from a story standpoint, this series has not met expectations, and with one issue left, we are far away from an appropriate send off. Here’s hoping Bendis can tie this all up with one issue to go!
MY GRADE: C
JAVI’S HUH?: The digital solicit reads, “Whose side are you on? Tony vs. Tony, Clint vs. Clint, Hulk vs. Hulk! The tear between domains deepens. How long can two territories occupy the same space? Here comes Miles!” Obviously, whomever wrote this didn’t pay attention that one of the Hawkeyes is dead and this issue doesn’t feature a Marvel Zombies cameo. Also, thanks for spoiling the last page and creating the anticipation that the Ultimate Universe Spider-Man would FINALLY show up, when in fact it’s only for one panel!