All-New Ultimates #1

Background

Following the events of Cataclysm: The Ultimates' Last Stand, the original Ultimates have disbanded and, as revealed at Captain America's funeral in Survive #1, a team of Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Bombshell, Kitty Pryde, Cloak, and Dagger will replace them. The team (except for Pryde) has fought against corporate villainy before in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #28. Also, Pryde is mainly responsible for saving the world against Galactus.

Story 'Power For Power'

  All-New Ultimates #1
Summary: Ultimate Spider-Man Appears
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Writer: Michel Fiffe
Artist: Amilcar Pinna
Cover Art: David Nakayama
Lettering: VC's Clayton Cowles
Colorist: Nolan Woodard

Our story begins with Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Bombshell, Cloak, and Dagger flying or swinging through New York, wondering about what they should name themselves. Bombshell suggests “Spidey n’ friends” and Spider-Man wants to be called “Die Spinne” to sound “cool and mysterious.” Cloak decides that they’ll be...the All-New Ultimates, with the description: “Bound by the darker side of corporate scientific misconduct, these powerful underdogs are unified by a mission to make their city, and the world, a safer place.”

Early in the morning of Hell’s Kitchen, Ganke Lee, Spider-Man’s best friend, is walking past a shady ground of freakish thugs with snakes on their jackets. One gangster grabs him by the neck, upset that he’s walking on his street “casual-like,” while another takes his backpack in hopes of finding valuables. They are disappointed to find nothing of value in the bag and begin expressing their feelings physically to Ganke.

Luckily, before further harm can be done, Dagger comes to Ganke’s rescue! She shoots a light dagger at one ruffian’s hands. His cohort is engulfed by Cloak and smashed into a car. The duo offers to transport Ganke to the hospital, but he refuses. Our favorite Lego-collector, though, is in shock, and they decide they cannot simply abandon him. Meanwhile, a strange guy is watching them.

Soon at the Westside Church, Spider-Man, Miles Morales, is interrogating his friend as to who assaulted him. Cloak and Dagger justify not handing the thugs to the authorities out of fear of giving themselves away. Miles asks his friend, “Why were you all the way over here? In one of the worst neighborhoods? It better not involve Legos.” Sadly, it does, and he utters, “I’m not judging.”

As Spidey is about to leave with Ganke, he insists that he gets his teammates some food. They refuse and tell him to stop being pushy, hurting his feelings, as he playfully claims. As they leave, Miles removes his costume, telling his friend that they’ll to take the train. Ganke is afraid of meeting his parents bruised. Miles suggests that he fibs that he got jumped at school and offers to “hook” him up with a First Aid kit. Ganke asks if he can be an honorary member of the Ultimates.

On the Lower East Side, some police officers break open a door, busting a drug operation off of a tip. They realize things are more serious than they suspect when they spot a withered carcass on the ground. Apparently, the apartment belongs to an ex-Roxxon employee, Stone. Sadly, Stone and his accomplice, Styx, a sickly man with many growths, are fleeing the scene.

Later at the Ultimates’ headquarters in the Westside Church, the group ponders if Kitty Pryde’s going to appear. Bombshell, Lana, explains that her unpunctuality has been caused by a check in with her parole officer. Lana mentions their headquarters smells like diaper, and Spider-Woman, Jessica, tells her to deal with it. Jessica distributes communication devices from the now defunct S.H.I.E.L.D. to the Ultimates for emergency use.

Cloak and Dagger explain that they can’t communicate casually by texting because they don’t, as Miles puts it, “have family plans for mutated outlaw teenagers presumed dead.” The group decides to meet every Sunday night, like an after school program.

Jessica reveals that she has some leads on a drug lab owned by Roxxon, the company responsible for giving the teenagers their powers. Apparently, the criminals running the lab were trying to replicate their powers. S.H.I.E.L.D. had been monitoring them, but not acting. With the organization now out of the picture, the lab was seized by a local gang, the Serpent Skulls. This is the same gang that beat up Ganke. The bunch of criminals plan on selling the product, which is deadly enough to wipe out entire neighborhoods. The Ultimates decide that they will attempt to bust the gang and “get their boss’s boss.” Lana mutters, “You mean America?”

In her Chelsea apartment, Kitty Pryde groans as news reporters express their hope for her speedy return to the public eye. Happily, Jessica appears with pizza and, when asked how the meeting went, she tells Kitty, “I gotta take the leader role and try to make it work. It may be a disaster but whatever. I’m sure it’ll be fine.” Kitty mentions that she’s been deleting her online accounts because she’s “drowning in calls and emails from industry people, agents, bottom-feeders trying to exploit my experience.”

Glad to vent about her troubles to somebody, Kitty divulges, “The world forgot its hate and I’m supposed to be all smiles? It’s swept in its own excitement of being alive and part of me just wants to force them to see how warped it is.” Jessica suggests she just lets it “wash over” her, and changes the subject to why she didn’t attend the Ultimates meeting. Kitty complains that she never wanted to partake in the team and her friend threw her under the bus at Cap’s funeral. Jessica proposes that she partakes in the next meeting to clear her head. When Kitty asks how she can pay her back for the pizza, she asks if she knows how to cut hair.

In Hell’s Kitchen at an old Roxxon outpost, Styx informs Stone that he isn’t feeling well. His accomplice apologizes for turning him into what he now is and anticipates fixing him. He’s unsettled, though, when the gate of the outpost they are about to siege is opened by some gang members. “Time to get hands-on,” Stone exclaims.

Meanwhile, Lana is walking to her apartment when she hears a scream and spots Styx and Stone beating up gangsters. Petrified, Lana alerts her teammates and dons the Bombshell costume. Lana enters the battle by hurtling an explosion in her enemies, leading to police notice of the fight. When her powers refuse to charge, Bombshell lobs a trashcan at Styx.

Soon, Jessica joins the battle with a new costume: a bit of a mix between Robin and Spider-Man’s black suit. Then, Cloak and Dagger appear and save Jessica, who insists on being called “Black Widow,” from an onslaught from Stone. Styx touches Cloak, giving him a terrible headache. Luckily, Spider-Man enters to assist his fellow Ultimate.

Abruptly, the police show up, ordering everybody, hero and villain, to drop to the floor. The situation escalates when the authorities recognize Styx and he attacks one, sucking away his life. The remaining officer open fire on the villain, and then assists her comrade.

The Ultimates are befuddled as to what to do until Cloak is punched in the face, and they find that they have been surrounded by the Serpent Skulls. Their leader, Diamondback, instructs her band to treat their “guests” with “kindness and consideration and respect.” This is obviously not their intent, though…

General Comments

I was genuinely excited when I heard that a team title was being made for Ultimate Spider-Man and his friends. Of course, I was a bit skeptical when I noticed that I didn’t really recognize the creators, but I still had high expectations for this title. It’s about time Marvel paid attention to the teenagers who, in my opinion, have been forgotten in the comics industry. Finally, Marvel can make a super-team for a new generation.

Despite my excitement, I found this issue to be very bland and uninventive. Fiffe’s script doesn’t carry the freshness or ingenuity that Brian Michael Bendis’ incarnation of the Ultimates did in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #28. The characters don’t really have much interesting banter, and much of the dialogue falls flat. There aren’t any stimulating relationships within the team. No thought-provoking themes are introduced other than Kitty’s mutant problems, which aren’t really anything new. Also, the scenes are choppy and don’t connect as well as they should. The early sequence with Ganke was absolutely useless, and the first page was very odd.

Michel Fiffe’s basic plot isn’t really formatted for the unique heroes either. Fiffe does what any uninspired writer does with characters they don’t enjoy writing: he pits them against a gang and calls it a day. It would have been more effective if the Ultimates had directly fought Roxxon or another corrupt corporation. This would have worked better with the rebellious aspect of the characters, and would give them more personal investment to the struggle since they gained their powers from Roxxon.

The new elements Fiffe introduces are unsuccessful and lack the innovation the Ultimate Universe is known for. The Serpent Skulls aren’t interesting in the least aspect, and the Ultimate versions of Styx and Stone lack any new spin or twist to differ them from their 616 counterparts. Jessica Drew’s new persona as the Black Widow is unnecessary and clumsily presented in the script. We don’t really have any explanation as to why she changed her costume, and her haircut is obviously Fiffe’s attempt to appeal to pop culture since every celebrity seems to getting a short trim nowadays. (Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Lawrence, ect., ect.)

Suprisingly, Amilcar Pinna’s art is worse than the script he illustrates. His style with thin, unexpressive lines doesn’t appeal to me at all. The characters he draws are lifeless and plastic-like. Emotions are poorly expressed, and the action looks stiff. He poorly introduces the new costumes for Black Widow, Styx, and Stone. Perhaps my biggest problem with the art is that it just isn’t as innovative for a new generation as other Ultimate artists like David Marquez or Sara Pichelli. Woodard’s bright coloring is the only attractive part of the art.

Overall Rating

This story is uninventive and bland with some of the worst art I've seen in a while. Marvel sure is making a solid attempt to appeal to the new generation, aren't they? I'll give it one-and-a-half webs in hopes that things get better...