Comics : Cataclysm: The Ultimates' Last Stand #4

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This review was first published on: Feb 2014.

Background...

So... Galactus has destroyed Jersey and is building a world-eating machine. The Ultimates sent Miles Morales and Reed Richards to the 616 Universe to find a way to stop Galactus. That's all that's happened in the past three issues...

In Detail...

Cataclysm: The Ultimates' Last Stand #4
Mar 2014 : SM Cameo
Summary: Ultimate Spider-Man Cameo
Editor:  Mark Paniccia
Writer:  Brian Michael Bendis
Artist:  Mark Bagley
Inker:  Andrew Hennessy
Cover Art:  Jesus Aburtov, John Dell, Mark Bagley
Lettering:  VC's Cory Petit
Colorist:  Jason Keith
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Review

In Manhattan, New York, the street is devastated and deserted. Among the ruin, some Ultimate X-Man I’m unfamiliar of named Jimmy Hudson tells Kitty Pryde that they should leave, but she’s in a trance looking upon the demolished city. Jean Grey explains there is nothing they can do, and Kitty asks, “This is it? This is the end of days?” Although the X-Men persist to convince Pryde to leave, she’s convinced that they must help the city.

Luckily for Kitty, Captain America, Black Widow, and Hawkeye swoop by in a helicopter, explaining they need the X-Men’s assistance. Storm and Hudson (who looks like a Wolverine rip-off) are angered at Cap for “everything [he’s] put [them] through.” The President (oh, what a stupid development) explains that the world is about to end, and they need Kitty Pryde for their plan.

Soon, on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, Stark is relieved to see Kitty appear amid the chaos of the room. Richards, Sue, and Stark crowd around poor Kitty and she’s absolutely confused. Stark is in the middle of explaining the situation to the X-Men when he identifies Jean Grey. Immediately, Stark yells for Monica Chang to find a Cerebro “under Nick Fury’s old bed.”

Rushed, Stark describes to Kitty Pryde that he wants her to phase through Galactus’ world-eating device and disrupt its mechanisms. Pryde questions how she will become so immense to reach the mechanisms’ level. Stark is about to answer when Chang appears with the Cerebro. He gives it to Grey and requests for her to read Galactus’ mind.

While Grey prepares, Stark explains that they are going to make Pryde massive using an enhanced version of Hank Pym’s growth serum. Kitty asks what she would do with Galactus, and Richards answers, “Well, as long as you’re there, you can slap him if you’d like.” Richards also reveals that Kitty probably won’t survive the experience. Stark asks if she will sacrifice herself and she sadly agrees to contribute in the plan.

Behind them, Jean Grey reveals that she’s accessed Galactus’ mind. She elucidates that he’s hungry, desperate, and weak. Galactus is unsure if he has enough strength to finish building the machine and confused as to where he is. Stark asks if he is pondering some way they could defeat him, but Jean cannot read his mind any longer because he senses her presence. Angered, Galactus rises and glares at the Helicarrier. Quickly, Cap sends Thor to stop him with four S.H.I.E.L.D. cruisers.

The S.H.I.E.L.D. ships fire at Galactus while Thor strikes him with lightning. Chang queries why they’re hitting the purple giant if it only strengthens him, to which Stark replies they need to stall him. Outside, Galactus grabs Thor and throws him into the Empire State Building. Then, he yells at the Helicarrier, “I hunger!”

Inside the craft, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are all in a flurry. Cap asks how much time they need, and heads toward Galactus in a separate plane. When Cap crashes into the purple giant’s face, Storm rushes to assist him. She creates a tornado-like wind around Galactus, but it accidentally pulls the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier into the chaos. The world-eater’s hand hits the Helicarrier. Before, Galactus can grab the ship, Captain America crashes his plane into his face. So…Cap’s dead? I assume so…

Meanwhile, the Helicarrier crashes to the city street. Galactus resumes to assembling his machine, irater than before.

In General...

After reading this comic, I am left wondering why. Why is this comic in existence? Why is the end of such an interesting super-team in such a shoddy event? Why is Mark Bagley’s talent being wasted on this crap? Why is this terrible event responsible for rebooting the Ultimate Spider-Man series I have enjoyed so greatly? Why is such a popular villain such as Galactus in this series?

So, about now, it’s pretty obvious that I didn’t enjoy this issue. At all. For the first half of the issue, everybody stood around and talked. The Ultimates’ solution to stopping Galactus has absolutely nothing to do with Miles and Richards’ journey to the 616 Universe. I remember this series was advertised as a gateway between the Ultimate and 616 Universes. It feels like Bendis sent Miles and Richards to the 616 universe, and took them right back out, giggling and feeling naughty.

The second part of the issue is where everything falls apart for the Ultimates. Galactus smacks the Helicarrier to the streets, and Captain America dies. I think. Cap’s death is horribly done. You wouldn’t even know he died if you read this series! One thing I have always fathomed about Bendis is that, although he kills characters frequently, he usually does so expertly. Well, this isn’t good. Cap didn’t sacrifice himself for any obvious reason. In fact, crashing into Galactus’ head was pretty senseless of him. The guy’s President of the United States and he just killed himself for no obvious reason. Sure, he stopped Galactus from grabbing the Helicarrier, but it crashed into the ground, killing just as many people. Now, America’s without a President, so when the Ultimates save the world, the country will be in absolute chaos.

Lastly is Bagley’s art, which depresses me. Bagley is a rare type of artist, considering he’s one of the only ones who actually draws one or more comics a month and stays on a title for more than six issues. He’s an artist that specializes mainly in street-level titles and solo characters. So what does Marvel do? They put Bagley on team titles and events such as Avengers Assemble and Fantastic Four that require drawing tons of characters and detail. He can’t keep a monthly schedule with team titles; no artist can. Therefore, for the past year, some of his art hasn’t quite been as great as it has been.

This is the case in this issue. The sequence from pages 5-10 of this comic was absolutely painful for a major Bagley fan like myself to read. Bendis gives Bagley a script that asks for tons of people standing around, talking. Each page requires the illustration of 20+ characters. I mean, with both the Ultimates and X-Men in many panels on one page panel, the only way any artist could make this comic quality is if they had a year to work on it. Bagley’s schedule cannot keep up with this and Marvel has finally overworked him. Anyways, why would he want to draw this terrible script with quality?

The other parts of the comic, especially the panels with one or two characters, are great, though. I enjoyed how fluid the sequence where Galactus grabbed and threw Thor on Page 14. I might add that I didn’t enjoy Keith’s colors because everybody looked too fleshy and it seemed to highlight Bagley’s poorly drawn characters in group panels. Hennessey’s inks are great, though, because he understands that Bagley’s art requires lots of hatching and thick blacks.

Overall Rating...

Ptoo. The bad taste's out of my mouth. Now, I will continue to review Bunn's Venom, which I'm sure will be absolutely terrific! (This is sarcasm if you haven't figured it out.)

Footnote...

Luckily, Bagley is moving on to the reboot of Hulk with Mark Waid after this, so he'll have a solo character to draw. Sadly, Jason Keith's colors are following him. Ya can't win 'em all.