All-New Ultimates #3

Background

Previously, the Serpent Skulls, a gang selling deadly drugs from old Roxxon complexes, fought the Ultimates. As a direct result of that battle, Bombshell quit the team, Detective Schreck was killed, and Black Widow (formerly Spider Woman) was poisoned and passed out in front of Kitty Pryde. Also, Scourge has been killing Serpent Skulls out of a twisted sense of justice, and the gang leader, interpreting the murderings as performed by rival mobs, has committed a gang war!

Story 'Summer of Scourge'

  All-New Ultimates #3
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
Designer: Idette Winecoor

In a hospital, Kitty Pryde watches as Jessica Drew, hallucinating due to her poisoning, is injected with a shot. The attending doctor explains to Kitty that Jessica must have been exposed to “a fatal mixture of mescalin and fasciculin” but her advanced molecule makeup saved her. After leaving the next day, Jessica thanks Kitty for taking her to the certain hospital she had resided in because it “has an open door policy for certain ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives.” Jessica’s chest wounds hurt, but she still trusts that she can go on patrol with the Ultimates. Kitty offers to join the team.

Meanwhile, Scourge is aggravated when he steals a newspaper and finds that his killings only made the sixth page. Proclaiming that he’s doing what nobody else will, the antihero decides that the public needs to and will know his name!

Later, a bunch of kids ride around on skateboards, discussing if they can get them some beer to celebrate the last school day of the year. Suddenly, Lana greets the group of kids, who seem to be her friends. She asks them if they happen to know where her boyfriend, Poey, might be. The kids try to hide his whereabouts but eventually one discloses that he’s at his uncle’s. After telling her friends not to inform Poey she’s been asking about him, Lana says, “You fools are gonna have to do a lot better than that to be sneaky.” Spider-Man spies on them from a nearby alleyway.

Soon at Poey’s uncle’s house, Lana chews out her boyfriend for standing her up the other night and moving without informing her. Poey exposes that he was dealing drugs again, and Lana sarcastically pretends to be sympathetic. He explains that he was selling heroin, but doesn’t have any on his person at the time. The argument continues when Poey expounds that he doesn’t respond to Lana’s phone calls anymore because he doesn’t like her moody behavior. Gloomily, Lana claims that she’s been going through a lot and just wants Poey to be there for her. She tells him that he’s one of the few people she likes, but she’ll leave if he wants her to. In reconciliation, Poey tells Lana that he’ll allow her to “tag along” with him to a drug dealing. Outside the window, Spider-Man watches all of it.

At Gruenwald’s Bodega, Detective Bridget O’Reilly interviews a sickly, red-haired man named Bart who witnessed Cloak and Dagger’s battle with the Serpent Skulls at the beginning of All-New Ultimates #1. O’Reilly queries about Styx, the goon who killed her partner, but Bart knows little about him. Instead, he describes Cloak and Dagger to her, whom have been sighted around the Westside Church. Bart begins to inform O’Reilly about the Serpent Skulls’ operations when she gets a call from the morgue. She is told that, when somebody was about to inspect Detective Schreck’s dead body, they found a path of footsteps leading from where his corpse had laid.

At West End Piers, Lana, Poey, and a thug named Eddy stroll to a drug dealing. Eddy is annoyed that Poey brought Lana to their operation, but allows her to accompany them. On the roof of the pier building, Spider-Man takes out a guard. Lana begins sarcastically mocking Eddy when Poey reveals he loves her, making her blush. In the dealing, King Cobra and Mister Jip discuss the specifics of their domestic and foreign distribution. Eventually, Cobra decides that they must “hit the streets sooner than later” because sellers are standing by. Spider-Man watches all from above on the roof.

Meanwhile in Chelsea, Black Widow is on patrol with Kitty in the rain. When they’re about to head back to their apartment, they hear a gunshot. Peering into an alleyway, they find a totally innocent homeless man standing beside a murdered gangster, spray-painting “Scourge” onto the wall. Black Widow attempts to web the hobo up, but he shoots at her and flees. His disguise unravels to reveal the figure of…Scourge!

Meanwhile at the Pier, Spider-Man has been spotted by the gangsters. They fire at him, causing him to drop to the ground. When the thugs discuss on killing him, Lana, biting her lip in uncertainty, decides whether to help her teammate or not. Eventually, she chooses to cause an explosion, distracting King Cobra and his gang.

In the alleyway, Kitty chases Scourge up a fire escape, where he uses a stun gun to blind her. The vigilante is confronted by Cloak and Dagger. He decides to jump off the building and fires a grappling hook at Dagger, pulling her down with him. Luckily, Dagger manages to sever the wire, freeing herself from the villain, but Scourge escapes upon hitting the ground. The heroes, afterwards, stand around disappointedly, and Cloak asks where Spider-Man is.

Little does out hooded friend know Spider-Man’s in a fight of his own against a gang of Serpent Skulls. After subduing a group of common thugs, Miles manages to punch Cobra in the stomach. The villain, though, makes a comeback, wrapping his legs around Spider-Man and slamming him into the ground. As they’re escaping, Lana pushes Poey out the door and assists Spider-Man in defeating King Cobra. Spidey convinces Lana to get back to Poey and, when she does, he pretends to not know her, asking if she’ll stay until the police arrive. Poey decides that they’re going to “dip” and Lana tells her teammate, “You never saw us, sir.” Miles sighs.

Later at the Westside Church, all of the Ultimates assemble. Black Widow is still disappointed about King Cobra’s escape, but Spider-Man and Bombshell reveal that they had planned a “little undercover excursion” and succeeded in arresting major drug dealers. Lana decides that she’ll probably need to dump her boyfriend now that she’s done using him. Dagger asks, “What kind of super hero dates a drug dealer?”

When Jessica expresses her gratitude that Lana has rejoined the Ultimates, Bombshell explains that their argument last issue was her fault. Although they may not see eye to eye on everything, Black Widow doesn’t want that to get in the way of the team, and more importantly, their friendship. Jessica decides that that may have just been the “sappy, drugged-up part of [her] brain talking” and Kitty suggests she gets poisoned more often.

General Comments

I will admit that, while this was in no way a great issue, it was far better than the last two. With this issue, Michel Fiffe produces what could be considered a one-shot, but fits into the overall arc of the Ultimates vs. the Serpent Skulls well. I like how ambitious Fiffe is with his tight plotting; this story progresses greatly with each new issue. This issue’s plot contains an interesting twist with two remarkable conflicts, which is amazing because most writers have trouble with one conflict at all, especially in team books. I also like how each hero gets a part in the plot with a particular emphasis on a few characters, which is also a bit rare in team books nowadays.

Sadly, the execution of the plot ruins the issue. Fiffe, it seems, doesn’t know what a comic book’s script is supposed to look like at all. The scene transitions are very choppy and distracting, the dialogue fails to concentrate on the themes that are being expressed, and the pacing is terrible. Characters lack personalization and many come off as cold when that is certainly not their behavior. These, of course, are very basic strategies that all comic book writers must possess, and it makes me wonder if Fiffe had even read a comic book prior to writing this series.

The most redeeming quality of this issue is the characterization of Lana. Last issue, I complained how Fiffe had portrayed Lana as a very unlikable character, but I’m preaching the direct contrary with this new issue. Fiffe successfully portrays Lana’s internal conflict when she considers whether she should go along with Spider-Man’s plan after her boyfriend just expressed him love to her. Of course, Lana’s battle isn’t over because she fails to turn in Poey and still needs to dump him, which I assume will be difficult for her.

Pinna’s artwork, as usual, is very poor. The characters all look very plastic-like and creepy, and the thin lines are very unexpressive. The drama scenes are painful to look at, but I dare say the action, with the awkward and undynamic angles, is worse. I seriously hope Pinna leaves this title after the first arc. My only praise visually is that every once and a while, there is a good facial expression.

Overall Rating

This issue has an interesting plot with good characterization, but the poor script and terrible art takes it down. I'll give it 2.5 webs, right down the middle.