Comics : Cataclysm: The Ultimates' Last Stand #2

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This review was first published on: Jan 2014.

Background...

The Ultimates and Ultimate Spider-Man fought Galactus for the whole issue in Cataclysm: The Ultimates' Last Stand #1 and know that their best efforts to stop him have failed. Tony Stark is beginning to get an idea that he's from another dimension and Galactus has begun to build a machine...

In Detail...

Cataclysm: The Ultimates' Last Stand #2
Jan 2014 : SM Guest
Summary: Ultimate Spider-Man and Spider-Woman appear
Editor:  Mark Paniccia
Writer:  Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils:  Mark Bagley
Inker:  Andrew Hennessy
Cover Art:  Mark Bagley
Cover Inks:  John Dell
Lettering:  VC's Cory Petit
Cover Colorist:  Jesus Aburtov
Colorist:  Jason Keith
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Review

Our story commences as Ultimate Spider-Man web slings through the chaotic New Jersey, pondering what he should do about Galactus’ arrival. When a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicopter flies overhead, he snags it with a web line and is pulled to the epicenter of pandemonium. There, Galactus continues to build the machine while Tony Stark is attempting to order S.H.I.E.L.D. forces to stand down. Monica Chang scolds him, explaining that the situation cannot escalate to a worse state since “New @#$@#$ Jersey is gone!!”

Spider-Man, while Stark and Chang are arguing, launches himself and lands on Galactus’ helmet. Miles is mystified on the purple giant, until he notices the unwelcome guest. Galactus moves to grab Spidey when Thor flies by and saves him. The Asgardian god carries him over to the Ultimates, who, like any good super-team, are in complete disorder. Sue Storms asks the question on everybody’s mind: “Is there a way to stop whatever this is—whatever he is doing—in time?” Cap orders Stark to retreat to the Tricarrier to find a way to halt their impending doom while the other Ultimates assist the people on the streets.

On the S.H.I.E.L.D. Tricarrier, Tony Stark explains to the agents that Galactus “is an entity composed of cosmic-level energies.” Hitting him isn’t going to work and he’s feeding off of Earth. While the Ultimates are saving citizens, Stark describes the Galactus’ energy signature is that of the encounter they had with the 616 universe. (Spider-Men…remember?) Once Tony finishes recapping what happened in that mini, he rationalizes to Chang that hitting Galactus with a bomb will only strengthen him.

Soon, Thor states that they need to send Galactus back to where he came. The Human Torch says that the heroes from the other Earth may have sent Galactus to them and Sue asks if there is somebody from the other Earth they can consult. This gives Stark an idea; they have Quentin Beck from the 616 universe captive from Spider-Men.

Soon in the Cube, Tony Stark stands in Quentin Beck’s cell with Monica Chang. Stark explains that if Beck wants to get back to his dimension, he must tell them about Galactus. Beck rants that they aren’t ever going to release him. Chang presses a gun to his head and he explains that they need to talk to Reed Richards. Stark is infuriated that Richards might be behind the attack (the Ultimate Reed is evil and crazy) but Beck explains that he saved Earth in his dimension. Beck asks if they even have a Reed Richards, which causes Chang and Stark look at each other.

Later in Manhattan, Stark displays to the Ultimates his dimensional portal and Amadeus Cho, leading expert in interdimensional fields, explains that Stark isn’t going to the other world. Tony retorts that he knows what questions to ask. Sue expounds that they cannot afford to let Stark go (Sue seems to be the only person in this comic who says anything intelligent) and Spider-Man volunteers to go.

Miles explains that he is the only one who has gone through the portal and they already have a spider-person. Spidey says that he plans on knocking on 616 Reed Richards’ and explaining their situation. Stark, obviously opposing the idea, inquires what would happen if things don’t happen turn out how he predicts. Suddenly, Ultimate Reed Richards shows up and volunteers to go with Miles. Agitated, Thor immediately smashes the stretchy man into the wall with his hammer.

When Reed recovers, he suggests that they could put aside their “petty differences” since it’s the end of the world. Reed explains that he has been spying on them and has the same DNA as 616 Reed so he can get into his lab and files. Sue, bitter, says, “No way are we letting you through that portal, you diseased monster!” Reed finishes that he is the only person who can save them and is offering his help.

Meanwhile, Galactus is almost done building his world-eating machine.

On Utopia, the X-Men are watching Galactus construct his mechanism and Colossus thinks that they should get involved. Jean asks, “Would they help us if the roles were reversed? Would the humans even cross the street if the mutants were being destroyed?” Kitty enquires if it really matters and Jean smiles.

In General...

This is a pretty typical Bendis second issue… Everybody pretty much says things we already know and they finally conceive of an idea to save the day at the end. The plot’s pretty thin at this point, but Spidey has an active role, which is pretty cool considering he usually gets a single panel in these events. Bagley’s art is great; he excels as a visual storyteller and his art has terrific flow. If you want one reason to buy this comic, it would be to look at the stunning two-page spread.

Otherwise, everything else I can talk about is really speculation. I’m not quite sure about how I feel about the Ultimate and 616 universes intersecting. I enjoyed the Spider-Men miniseries because it was a perfect opportunity for character moments and fit into Miles Morales’ journey as a hero perfectly. But…what’s the point of having them cross now? What’s Bendis up to here?

On one hand, I’m reluctant about approving of the events. The Ultimate universe was originally developed to be a place that readers could go to escape the tedious continuity of the 616 universe. In a way, it was a retelling of the classic Marvel stories in a modern way. For a point in time, it was even a place more consistent than the regular Marvel U, with the terrific runs of Bendis and Bagley’s Ultimate Spider-Man and Millar and Hitch’s Ultimates. Wouldn’t this all be distorted if the Ultimate and 616 universes converged?

On the other hand, we can all agree that the Ultimate U’s statement has altered drastically in the past few years. After Ultimate Peter Parker’s death, Miles Morales, an entirely original character never seen before in comics, took over and the universe has become far more than a glorified version of the 616 universe. In fact, the Ultimate characters have all changed so considerably that they are practically different characters from those in the 616 U. Heck, Marvel’s even begun using it to test things out for future stories in the 616 universe. Maybe, since things have altered so drastically, the intersection of the two universes is the next step in the evolution of the Ultimate universe. After all, who hasn’t wondered how the regular Marvel characters would react to their twisted counterparts and vice versa?

Well, my verdict will depend heavily on the events of the next few issues. Hopefully, they impress me.

Overall Rating...

A slow issue with great art. I think things will pick up next issue.