REVIEW: Ultimate Fallout #5 (of 6)

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Or – “I Don’t Know If You Heard, But There’s This New Spider-Man…”

The revamping of the Ultimate universe continues, as Quicksilver picks up where dear ol’ dad left off, and Nick Fury gets some very bad news…

ULTIMATE FALLOUT #5
Writer(s): Nick Spencer/Jonathan Hickman
Artist(s): Luke Ross/Billy Tan
Cover ARtists: Bryan Hitch, Paul Neary & Paul Mounts
Colorist(s): Jason Keith/Guru eFx
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, on Ultimate Fallout:  A lot of water has gone under the bridge (and through the buildins and into the lungs of a lot of innocents) in the Ultimate universe since Magneto put his final plan into action.  The remains of the heroes of this world have been struggling to rebuild, and it seemed like they were getting somewhere until Peter Parker was killed.  What’s the worst that could happen?  Two words: Quicksilver ascendant.

A Modest Proposal.

I’ll be honest:  I picked this up thinking there would be more Ultimate Spider-Man Version 2.0.  Instead, we get something a little more intriguing, as well as a lot more disturbing, on a number of levels.  We open with a couple of corporate suits preparing for a pitch meeting of some sort, with really impressive art by Luke Ross.  There’s a texture to the pencils in the first part of this issue that I REALLY like, giving the art a depth and photographic quality that you seldom see in comics anymore.  The meeting gets weird when we discover that the pitch is coming from Pietro (Quicksilver) Lensherr, and that his plan is simple enough.  Quicky wants to revive the importation and sale of the most profitable goods ever sold in American history: humans.  In a really brilliant bit of dialogue, someone tries to change the subject to the weather, which Quicksilver brings back to his topic, reminding them that he knew a girl who could control the weather and make the terrible day beautiful again.  Of course, he muses, she’s off being lobotomized.  It’s a horrifying, yet telling moment that really crystallizes Quicksilver as a threat equal to his father, perhaps even more so.

Bad Timing For Red Tape.

The second half of the book is much less interesting to me, featuring the stiff and awkward pencils of Phillip Tan, and focusing on Samuel L. Nick Fury as he tries to ready SHIELD for the threats to come.  I counted three little name-checks of standard Marvel continuity, but what it essentially boils down to is a budget meeting.  Jasper Sitwell (one of the name-checks, I might add) has come to tell Nick that, even though the President authorized them to expand their operations by 30%, their budget will be slashed.  “People will die because of this,” he says a little bit pathetically, and the pencil-pusher smiles a stiff but presumably-meant-to-be-insincere smile and leaves.  Fury sighs melodramatically and seems completely hapless.  We close the issue with an even moment in the psyche of Pietro Lensherr, as a romantic encounter is interrupted by the spectre of his sister, the Scarlet Witch.  Now, either she’s dead and he’s imagining it, or she’s alive and likes to possess the bodies of the women he’s sleeping with, but either way…  Raise your hand if, “EWW?”

The Verdict: Still A Little Hazy On A Few Things…

I’m really unclear on a lot of what has gone on in the Ultimate Universe, as there have been literally a dozen miniseries since Ultimatum, some of which don’t seem to be able to reconcile with the others.  The Avengers alone have probably had 30 issues since 2009, if you look at all the different minis.  This issue seems to imply that things are still a crapsack, and that even the terrorist son of the world’s greatest terrorist can do whatever he wishes, so long as there’s a sufficient profit margin involved.  (Sounds a bit like my day job…)  The art is split right down the middle, with the first half of the book sublime and the second completely forgettable, and a similar breakdown in the stories.  Maybe it’s just my lizard brain talking, but I’m not sure I want to see an emasculated Fury downtrodden in his seat of power.  Still, it’s different from what the mainstream Marvel U is up to, and it at least continues to differentiate the Ultimate Universe, which I’m all for.  Even with a decided lack of Miles Morales, Ultimate Fallout #5 earns a solid 3 out of 5 stars overall.  I’m not sure where it’s going, but if it looks as good as the first 10 pages, I’m willing to take the ride…

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  Is the Ultimate Universe really the lame-duck that some say it is?  Or can sufficiently entertaining stories save it from the 2099 scrap-heap?