I hope you like the witty title. I know. It's horribly clever. So, right then. Ultimate Fallout #4. It’s been getting a bit of media attention, hasn’t it?
I figure since I’ve got the Wednesday night slot, I’ll get my two thoughts in before someone on here says something stupid. Like that’s it underwhelming. Or how Flashpoint is a better comic. Both of those things would be wrong, wrong, wrong.
Simply put, Ultimate Fallout #4 is an extremely good comic, but not for the reasons you may think.
The Ultimate Fallout series is about the Ultimate Universe in the wake of the Death of Spider-Man and setting up the new Ultimates, Ultimate Spider-Man, and Ultimate X-Men relaunches. “But wait!” you say, smugly. “I can see this being important in the Spider-Man book, but what do the Ultimates or the X-Men have to do with this character’s death? Surely this is a cheap ploy designed to lift the whole line.” To which I would reply, “You haven’t read a Marvel book since Secret Wars II, Lee. Shut up.”
Basically, yes, this series is using the momentum of Ultimate Spider-Man to give some spark to the rest of the line. But that doesn’t really matter, because they’ve done it really well. Outside of the Spider-Man cast, the death isn’t being treated so much as a deeply personal tragedy, but as a national (or at least New York tragedy). It is trying to evoke (and quite effectively in my opinion) the mood that pervaded the country after incidents like the Gabby Giffords assassination attempt. So the Death of Peter Parker either serves as a jumping off point for the characters touched by it or a backdrop for other stories, depending on which is appropriate.
The issue is split into 3 segments, each written by the writers of the upcoming Ultimate relaunch, each setting up storylines in their new books. The one that has made this book a media sensation is the Spider-Man one, which introduces *gasp* a black Spider-Man. I’ll stop for a minute and give Glenn Beck a minute to change his diapers.
Hope that wasn’t too messy. Anyway, technically the new Spider-Man (as seen in USA Today) is the half Hispanic, half Black Miles Morales
First, this is a really good introduction to the character, particularly as Sara Pichelli is a fantastic artist who does a great job with both the fluidity of the fight and the characters’ facial expressions. Second, if you’re going to kill Spider-Man (and this is the ultimate universe, so it could theoretically stick) giving us a character this different is a great idea. Miles is coming at us from a completely different perspective from the Spider-Man we’re used to. If you’re going to replace Peter Parker, shouldn’t you give us something that we’re not used to? And I’ll also say this: I think it’s good that Marvel is throwing some diversity into their universe in such a high profile way. Most of today’s comic characters are products of the 60’s, which means they are largely white. It’s nice that Marvel’s Ultimate Universe at least is starting to look a little bit more like the real world. And hell, Miles is going to be written by the guy who’s had the best run on Spider-Man ever. I’m excited for that. And even with all of that, a kid from New York City who makes fun of criminals is Spider-Man. Things aren’t THAT different.
Now, as exciting as it was to be introduced to Miles, he’s not the reason this issue is so good. That anticipation of what’s next is and every segment of the book gave me that feeling.
For his Ultimates (presumably at least) Hickman picks up on one of the more interesting developments in the Ultimate Universe, and reintroduces us to Reed Richards: Super villain. Reed escapes from the pocket universe he was trapped in and we’re treated to a much darker take on something Hickman played with when he was writing the mainstream Reed, namely his desire to solve everything. Back in the world, Reed has established some crazy tomorrow Dome where a bunch of kids in crazy jumpsuits have to evolve or die to further his education. Its crazy and its nuts and I don’t fully understand it yet, but I want to and that is EXACTLY what I want out of a Jonathan Hickman comic.
Finally, we get the X-Men section, where a reporter and Valerie Cooper, the President’s Advisor on Metahuman and Mutant Affairs, have lunch. Over the course of a well written and tense conversation, Valerie figures out the reporter has unearthed the government’s dirty little secret: the US created mutants in a lab. In the course of this sequence, writer Nick Spencer achieves something remarkable, well two remarkable things if you count wringing a coherent comic out of Clayton Crain. Anyway, for the first time in the history of the Ultimate Universe, Spencer has managed to make the Ultimate X-Men an interesting and exciting concept. Taking the idea of man creating mutants from Bendis’ Ultimate Origins mini and running with it to its natural conclusion seems like a fascinating story and, once again, I can’t wait to read it.
DC’s big reboot is getting a lot of attention, and that makes sense. It is going to have a huge impact on the market. But Marvel’s Ultimate reboot looks fantastic and this miniseries, and this issue in particular, makes me think that this is where the action is going to be this fall.
10 years ago, Marvel’s Ultimate line was the home of the most cutting edge superhero comics on the market. If this miniseries is any indication, I think the Ultimate line is about to reclaim that title in the not too distant future.