Comics : Cataclysm: The Ultimates' Last Stand #5

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This review was first published on: Mar 2014.

Background...

Galactus smashed the Ultimate Helicarrier to the ground last issue after killing Captain America. The Ultimates have also conjured a plan to enlarge Kitty Pryde so she can phase through and break Galactus' world-eating machine.

In Detail...

Cataclysm: The Ultimates' Last Stand #5
Apr 2014 : SM Guest
Summary: Ultimate Spider-Man appears
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

Our story begins with Spider-Man rising among the ruin of the Helicarrier. He rips off his mask and looks around to find tons of wreckage, fire, and unfortunate S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Miles hops over to find Kitty Pryde, crying. Quickly, she hugs Miles for comfort until Richards tells her that it’s time to initiate the plan. With a scream of pain, Kitty grows three times large than she was.

Soon, Kitty crashes though the Helicarrier roof and walks over to find Galactus building his world-eating machine. A voice in her earpiece (I think it’s Richards) tells her that every moment as a superhero has brought her to this moment. The voice tells her to think about the world she’s saving as she crashes through Galactus and phases through the machine. As she’s falling, the entire Ultimate universe flashes before her eyes. She quickly recovers to hit Galactus in the head, and they both topple as the machine appears to explode.

Meanwhile in the Helicarrier ruin, Richards is up to something. When Susan asks what he’s doing, he reveals that he’s finishing the plan. He presses a button on a mechanism and it sails away.

Back at the battle, Kitty’s standing in Galactus’ world-eating machine as it bursts. “Get out of there,” Strom shouts, but Kitty cannot hear her. Soon, Galactus is on the rebound until Kitty strikes him in the face again. Another explosion from behind weakens Kitty and Galactus grabs through her intangible form, wounding her.

Rapidly, Richards’ device sets off, opening a portal to the Negative Zone. As Galactus is fighting being sucked in, Richards explains that Galactus will starve to death in the nothingness of the antimatter universe. Sadly, Kitty’s also being pulled in and Reed didn’t prepare a plot to save her. Miles and Susan quickly rush to save her while Stark realizes that the Negative Portal may pull the universe inside out if left open too long.

Amid all the chaos, everybody suddenly pauses to notice Thor has returned. Kitty shrinks down at Susan’s request as Thor smashes into Galactus. Invisible Woman throws Miles, who catches Kitty. Spidey snags Sue with a web line and they soar away before Thor’s next strike. After being hit by a massive bolt of lightning, Galactus and Thor are both still.

As they plummet into the Negative Zone portal, Richards is stopped from shutting it by Stark. He wants to give Thor a chance to escape, but Richards explains that they must close it to save the world. Dejectedly, Stark hands the controls over to Reed. Shortly, Galactus and Thor are imprisoned in the utter nothingness of the Negative Zone. Richards says, “He knew what he was doing.”

Soon, the surviving heroes rise from the debris of the Helicarrier. Kitty is hugging Miles again, Storm dons Captain America’s shield, and Monica Chang orders the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to help civilians. Stark asks who wants to tell the President it’s over. (What? I thought Cap was the President…) He tells Richards that he saved the world, who responds that Thor may find his way back.

On the final page, Miles, Kitty, Susan, and Storm all look at the gleaming city on a rooftop among ruin as Richards says, “If today proved anything… If we survived this to fight another day… Anything is possible.”

In General...

Let me begin by mentioning that I am not the typical comic book fan whom is angry about every comic book event because of some spiteful principal. For some odd reason, I particularly enjoy the idea of uniting every popular hero in a story with a wide scope. I have thoroughly enjoyed other Bendis events, such as House of M, Secret Invasion, and Siege. Now, Cataclysm #5? That’s a whole other story.

Firstly, Marvel promoted this series as a gateway between the 616 and Ultimate universes. Was the 616 universe mentioned at all in this pivotal finale? Nope. I’m sure you can understand how this can be frustrating to a fan like myself who typically reads only Spider-Man when it comes to alternate universes. Miles’ role in this story was worthless and forgettable, so this looks like the first and final occasion in which I purchase an Ultimate event.

Now, I may have been able to forget about the false advertising if this ending was absolutely astonishing, but it wasn’t. Bendis does what he typically does in superhero events such as these: he leaves a single character to finish off the villains. While this strategy has been effective for putting the B-lister Scarlet Witch in my interests in past events, Kitty Pryde’s involvement in Galactus’ defeat is somewhat irritating. Pryde isn’t especially interesting enough to be given such a major position in this conclusion. We aren’t given any solid reason why Kitty’s the one who needs to defeat Galactus other than the ridiculous idea that she can phase through his machine. Frankly, I didn’t give a crap about Kitty before I read this and the feeling is still present after.

Galactus himself is also disappointing in this issue. He isn’t really depicted as an unbeatable force or anything remotely causing fear in the hearts of cosmic fans of the comicdom. If Galactus was drawn as a giant walrus, we’d have the same story. One of the main qualities of Galactus, the fact that he’s freaking colossal, is disqualified by the enlargement of Kitty Pryde. Additionally, Galactus has incredibly boring dialogue. I will admit that I haven’t read many Galactus stories, but Bendis’ image of him as a brain-dead monster whose vocabulary only consists of “Galactus must hunger” doesn’t quite seem accurate.

Beyond that, my complaint about this story is that it unjustly ended the Ultimates team. I always loved the cynicism of the original incarnation of the original Ultimates series and it remains the only non-Spider-Man Ultimate title I have followed. Sadly, because of failing sales due to constant reboots, Marvel decided to give the team the axe with this series, but if you read this event, you wouldn’t even know that’s what one of the main purposes of it. Sure Thor’s now trapped in the Negative Zone and Cap’s dead (I think…) but I would think that Stark, Richards, and a few of the other heroes would still band together to form the Ultimates yet again. Anyways, for the Ultimates’ last stand, their involvement was surprisingly minimal. The main players are Kitty, Miles, and Richards, all of whom aren’t even Ultimates. It’s frustrating that the super-team in the title didn’t even star in their epic conclusion. Comics like these force me to question what the heck Bendis thinks he’s doing.

Otherwise, this event looks like a new excuse to reboot everything. Now, I’ve always been an admirer of the cause-and-effect factor of Bendis’ comics; I thought it was brilliant how his Avengers stories all led into each other. Sadly, the effect is not the same here. Looking at the end results of this event, I can’t help but groan. I don’t care that Richards was redeemed or Kitty was labeled a true hero for saving the world. The only thread I’ll be following is the team of Spider-Man, Bombshell, Cloak, and Dagger in their new series. Of course, this team would have assembled even if Bendis hadn’t written this event because of their build-up in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man (Vol. 2).

Bagley’s art is a mixed bag in this issue. For every great panel, there is one just as terrible. For example, the beginning three pages are terrific, but the following one is absolutely horrid. Panel layouts generally flow well, but the actual art is inconsistent. At least Bagley fans like myself have that two-page spread of nearly every character in the Ultimate Universe to love. (Oh, I could look at it for days and it would never grow old.) Keith’s colors are also very inconsistent.

Overall Rating...

This comic is plain bizarre. The absence of the 616 Universe, poor use of Galactus, unsatisfying ending of the Ultimates, and mediocre art gives it a whole 0.5. Oh, how I wish I could lower the grade to -2...