Comics / Comic Reviews / Marvel Comics

Ultimate Avengers vs. New Ultimates #4

By Zak Edwards
June 11, 2011 - 10:13

Writer Mark Miller made a good decision at this juncture in Ultimate Avengers vs. New Ultimates, abandoning the pointless crossover with Bendis’ “Death of Spider-Man” event by page seven and refocusing on the terrible realities of the larger picture of his story.  Miller’s Ultimate work has always challenged the superhero as a hero, largely criticizing American politics at the same time, and this series gets ramped up again by exploring it’s own plot rather than the drawn out and needless tie-in to UC: Spider-Man.  Miller’s work on this title is back in the swing of things, and that is a very good thing.

I think Miller has realized the lack of connection between this book and UC: Spider-Man.  If not by the Punisher’s “Where the #&@$ did he come?” of the last issue, than certainly by the seven pages of the bridge Spider-Man gets shot on blowing up.  Captain America gives Spider-Man some friendly ego boosts and then gets blown away, and it’s then Miller chimes up through Spider-Man and wishes “Please let this be over soon.”  Even Miller knows the Spider-Man story needs to end and he cuts his ties pretty early in the issue.  As for his own story, sans crossover, events have gotten extremely interesting.  I’m sure others saw the plot twist coming, but the orchestrator of the events, and the pitting of Carol Danvers against Nick Fury, was a surprise to me.  It’s easy to pick up on early in this issue, but I did not see that coming!  Overall, Millar’s distancing from the ‘big’ Ultimate crossover is immediately helpful.  The series gets back to threads lost in the last issue, especially the reemergence of the actual big issue of the Triskelion in Iran.  Having the equivalent of the Pentagon dropped into Iran is a bit more pressing than Spider-Man getting shot, from a political perspective at the very least.  Let Bendis deal with the mess he created and Millar deal with his, in my mind.  Of course, I think the death at the end of this issue is likely to stick as much as, well, the Death of Spider-Man, but seeing that final panel is pretty shocking nonetheless.  Millar, as I have said a couple of times, has brought the Ultimate Avengers back from the critical brink and I am excited to see where this goes.  Even the character moments are all there, with the Punisher screaming “Punish me!” easily being a moment contending with all the plot twists for most memorable moment of the issue.  While many of the new recruits Millar has brought in have either served as surrogate members of the original Ultimates or have been fairly flat, this issue doesn’t really aid them.  Fortunately, there are moments with the original Ultimates that detract from Millar’s less memorable creations.  With the refocus, Millar is writing a book finally worthy of its predecessors.  The political intrigue is there, as is the role of the hero in society, if only with more focus on the puppet masters over the puppets themselves.  I have said this before, but the Ultimate Universe is experiencing a resurgence in quality recently, this book is certainly a part of that.

Leinil Yu’s art is better this issue than in others, with his heavy shading and great action sequences working with a shady story very well.  The opening panels are wonderful and he even manages to keep things interesting as the story becomes mostly talking heads by the second half.  There are moments that bring an ache for Bryan Hitch, which is unfair, but do exist.  The detailed backgrounds of Yu’s work invoke Hitch a bit, but the reliance on shading to express emotion gets worn thin by the end of the issue, even if his work is engaging, as the heavy lines start to look like a coverup for inability.  For example, pages go by with characters' eyes being black and shaded, no one has eyes for much of the issue, only heavy black bands across their faces, which becomes noticeable and feels fairly lazy at points.  This may be more easily attributed to Stephen Segovia, who helps with the finishes for the last third of the book, but Yu's art still dominates the issue.  I am a fan of Yu’s artistic style and think this issue is well done, if only my nostalgia for Ultimates getting in the way of enjoying his work.

Grade: B    Getting back on track and thus more interesting.

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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