Review: All-New Ultimates #1
Since I have been reading comics, there have been four Ultimate line launches. Each time every book other than Ultimate Spider-Man has trouble staying afloat critically and financially. All-New Ultimates probably won’t buck that trend sadly.
Michael Fiffe hits most of the things on my “checklist for a good #1.” But he is missing the biggest check box of all; the hook. All-New Ultimates #1 is missing that hook to bring me back next month. I’ve had books that I wasn’t terribly impressed with bring me back because of the hook. It’s like a promise that next month’s issue is going to be better than this one. But I didn’t feel that once throughout this issue. I had a strong feeling of, “ok, now what.” If taken apart, there is plenty to enjoy. There is teenage drama and potential love interests, and Fiffe gives the civilian persona of these heroes plenty of time. But the equation doesn’t work when you add them all up. The story beat of our heroes being hated by the police feels unnecessary at this point and takes up time that could have been spent setting up their non-super hero lives together.
But my biggest gripe is the sudden change of Spider-Woman to Black Widow. The change makes a lot of sense given Jessica’s history of self doubt and wondering if she is just a shadow of Peter Parker, but the change has no weight too it. All of a sudden she is in the new costume and we aren’t given an explanation. After Jessica makes her new appearance Dagger says, “uh, okay,” which mirrored my reaction after reading that panel. I didn’t totally hate the issue though. There are plenty of stories to mine from the premise of teen superheroes working together. Brian Michael Bendis’ second volume of Ultimate Spider-Man used this to great effect when Spider-Man, Johnny Storm, Gwen Stacey, and Ice-Man were all living under the same house. This series will probably stay in my pull list for six months or so to give Fiffe some time to work out the kinks in the title. I’m not familiar with Fiffe’s work, and that actually excites me for a series. It’s rare these days to see a writer I know nothing about.
While Fiffe’s story has bumps, these are acceptable bumps. Amilcar Pinna’s artwork just flat out holds the issue down. The spandex heavy scenes are fine and dandy, but the civilian scenes suffer. Characters look completely different than in other issues. Ganke looks much skinnier than in Ultimate Spider-Man #200, which didn’t exactly instill me with excitement for the rest of the issue. Unless there was a text box in the first panel telling me who Ganke was, I wouldn’t have known who he was until Miles talked to him about Lego. Jessica’s face mask seems to recede as the issue goes along. Nolan Woodard uses a weird neon palette for his colors that don’t fit the super heroics in this issue. The muted backgrounds work, as it’s a poorer neighborhood. I’d like to see Woodard look to Ultimate Spider-Man for a proper color palette to use in the Ultimate universe.
All-New Ultimates #1 gets 3/5.
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