All-New Ultimates #12

Background

I really hate to do this because it'll look lazy, but I'm not going to spend too much time on this background. The past issue was way too complex to redescribe without explaining every single past issue in the series again, I don't feel like it, and this is the last issue of the series so don't complain because you jumped on too late, buddy!

So, in essence, Bombshell, Spider-Man, Kitty Pryde, Black Widow, Cloak, Dagger, Diamondback, Taskmaster, Sidewinder, Crossbones, Ecstasy, Terry Schreck (calling himself Terror), Bridget O’Reilly, Detective Bengal, Detective Crippler, and Random Detective #1 are all standing around as a giant, monstrous Mr. Jip is attacking the city. Crossbones and Jip are pissed at Ecstasy, and Bombshell has it out for Diamondback. Terry and O'Reilly also have romantic ties.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking, but there's actually a lot more exposition. But I'm done. Deal with it.

Story '"The Final Showdown"'

  All-New Ultimates #12
Summary: Ultimate Spider-Man Appears
Arc: Part 3 of 'No Gods, No Masters' (1-2-3)
Editor: Emily Shaw
Writer: Michel Fiffe
Artist: Amilcar Pinna
Inker: Terry Pallot
Cover Art: David Nakayama
Lettering: VC's Clayton Cowles
Colorist: Nolan Woodard
Designer: Idette Winecoor

So, as I said in the background, Bombshell, Spider-Man, Kitty Pryde, Black Widow, Cloak, Dagger, Diamondback, Taskmaster, Sidewinder, Crossbones, Ecstasy, Terry Schreck (calling himself Terror now), Bridget O’Reilly, Detective Bengal, Detective Crippler, and Random Detective #1 are all standing around as a giant, monstrous Mr. Jip is attacking the city. Cloak flies off to teleport civilians away from the area, saving them. Crossbones smacks Ecstasy, Black Widow kicks him, and Detective O’Reilly points a big gun at him, asking for his surrender. Ecstasy tries to convince them to kill him, but they refuse.

Meanwhile, Sidewinder quickly snatches Crippler’s gun from its holster behind him, and then points it at him. Talking of his leather jacket, Sidewinder asks the detective, “Are you a real badass or you just like dressing the part?” Crippler hits the villain with a baton and says, “You tell me.” Meanwhile, Random Detective #1 tries to hit a still-tied-up Taskmaster with a knife but misses. The villain kicks the weapon out of his hand, but is soon attacked by Spider-Man and Kitty Pryde. “That’s for shooting me when I wasn’t looking!” she yells, referring to All-New Ultimates #10. Elsewhere, Bombshell punches Diamondback in the face after dodging a kick. Bengal offers to handcuff her, and Lana mentions, “I won’t say anything if she ‘accidentally’ got crushed by one of these tentacles, FYI.”

As the central problem, the monstrous Mr. Jip frantically asks for help, but Ecstasy wants the detectives to just kill him. Unintentionally, his tentacles lash out and cause chaos. O’Reilly tells Terror his plan is ready, and he asks Bombshell to “blow a pathway” into Mr. Jip’s body. She does so, and he runs into the body, explaining, “Gonna … try to talk to it and calm it down.” Dagger decides to go supernova on Jip, hoping not to “fry” everybody. Kitty keeps the tentacles from hitting Dagger as Jessica tries to help Crossbones out from a bunch of debris.

In Jip’s body, Terror maneuvers through intestines until he reaches the heart of the beast, containing the human Jip’s normal head. Terror uses some kind of mind powers to connect with Jip, finding he’s in pain. Terry explains that he can’t fight the pain and must die because he’s so destructive and “hurting others.” Terror touches Jip’s forehead, which seems to calm him down. Outside, Spider-Man remarks that he thinks Dagger’s supernova is helping. Suddenly, Terror is launched out of the monster and it dies. He tells Dagger, “That light of yours … it made his final moments easier.” The behemoth disintegrates, only leaving Jip’s skeleton.

Standing in the aftermath of the scene, Jessica finds that Crossbones is barely alive, Cloak is relieved to discover Dagger’s bullet wound has already healed, while Ecstasy tells Bengal she refuses to make a statement without her lawyer. Jessica figures that means Ecstasy won’t help clean up Jip’s flesh, and Random Detective #1 stabs Jip’s skeleton because he’s a dumbass. Spider-Man approaches his friends, talking about how he thinks the fact that Taskmaster, Crossbones, and Taskmaster had skull masks is more than a coincidence, suggesting they’re connected somehow. Once again, Bombshell decides to spare Diamondback.

Weeks later in an old S.H.I.E.L.D. facility, Jessica is speaking to Monica Chang. The ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. director explains that Crossbones was a member of the defunct organization, and he was being used to “infiltrate the Serpent Skulls as their leader” to get to Ecstasy. Apparently, Ecstasy is “a rich girl with dreams of running a crime circuit” and she has connections to the police, which is why Bridget O’Reilly was fired for pursuing the Serpent Skulls. Ecstasy was also tied to Hydra, but that’s all the information they could gain because Crossbones betrayed S.H.I.E.L.D. because they offered him a spot in Hydra. Chang explains that she has been using the Ultimates to cause Crossbones “to do something stupid, like come out of hiding” so they can arrest tim.

After hearing this, Jessica is angry that Chang was only manipulating her to form the “little-team-that-could,” but Chang doesn’t see it that way. She was her “only shot” at bringing down the villains, and the Ultimates did important work. Chang is still angry that Crossbones betrayed S.H.I.E.L.D. for “some weak power fantasy.” Since Jip is dead and Crossbones is on life support, they can’t help her to incriminate Ecstasy, who is still clean. The Roxxon Director, Thomas Masters, won’t talk either after the Ultimates arrested him in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #28. Jessica figures that she has somebody to incriminate Roxxon: Terry Schreck. He could bring the authorities to the “human dumping ground in the sewers” (from All-New Ultimates #7) and lead the dead test subjects to Roxxon. She also figures that they can nab Ecstasy with Terry too. When he connected with Jip mentally, he gained memory of his entire life, containing every illegal action his partner took. Chang decides it’s a “long shot” but it may work and gives Jessica a ride to her apartment.

In the elevator of Jessica’s apartment building, Jessica explains to Kitty what she discussed with Chang. “We just may make a dent on Roxxon,” she says. Jessica states she’s going to miss Kitty staying in her apartment, thanks her, and apologizes for what happened at the beach (All-New Ultimates #4). Kitty explains that what occurred was “really awesome of her to say” and reveals she was just pretending to be jealous. “Having a big, fat crush on you isn’t good for the team, anyway,” Jessica says, reminiscing Tandy and Ty’s tumultuous relationship. Jessica divulges that Cloak and Dagger seem to be doing better and jokingly suggests they begin making out.

Upon entering the apartment, Jessica and Kitty find Miles Morales grumbling, “We’re not Roxxon property!” Lana, Tandy, and Ty reassure, “Don’t let that Taskmaster creep get under your skin.” Miles is still angry he’s even thinking about it. The team leader encourages, “We’re not property. And we certainly don’t owe anyone anything.” She decides that “what’s done is done” and the villains will “get theirs” eventually. She resolves that they must continue with their jobs as superheroes: “Keep the streets safe. Save the world.”

In Gruenwald’s Bodega, Detective O’Reilly is talking to her schizophrenic informant, Bart (last seen in All-New Ultimates #5). He is excited to be her new Terror Inc. assistant while still doing a part-time Damage Control job. O’Reilly decides he’ll need boxing lessons before he can go on cases with them, but he’s confident he could be helpful because he “took out a dude once.” They leave the restaurant for the headquarters, and O’Reilly warns Bart about Terry’s new look. He pays for their meals and picks up a newspaper, noticing Ecstasy is in a headline. As they exit, they bump into Lana. O’Reilly recognizes her, but says nothing. “Am I too late for the breakfast special?” Bombshell’s secret identity asks the restaurant manager.

Later, atop a rooftop, the Ultimates prepare to part ways. Jessica explains she’s proud of what the team has done, even if it sounds corny. Ty asks who she can be corny around other than her family, and Spider-Man admits that the team has been “a good distraction from the insanity in my life.” Kitty suggests they do team-ups with her old teammates, the X-Men, and Lana decides that it sounds, “X-cellent.” Spider-Man is ashamed by the terrible pun and Lana, of course, spouts another for good measure. Finally, the Ultimates all part their separate ways.

General Comments

As a comic book fan, I constantly have to deal with the problem of collecting a series that I don’t like but have to buy for completion’s sake. I’m always on the verge of ending my subscription to the series, but just have to keep following it because of that Spider-Man-related appearance every issue. It’s generally at the bottom of my reading stack every week, and I always have to read the recap section because I forget or refuse to remember everything that happens in the past issues. That’s what All-New Ultimates has been for me for about half a year, and I’m happy that it has finally ended, even if this final issue has a messy conclusion, too many characters, and horrible artwork.

The main problem with this issue is that if lacks a neat conclusion to tie everything up. Fiffe just threw together all the character and had them fight until he decided to destroy the Jip monster and call it a day. It wasn’t climactic in the least sense and honestly made very little sense. When did Terry Schreck gain mind powers and since when did he start calling himself “Terror?” What was Dagger even doing to Jip’s body with her supernova? How did Crossbones get stuck in debris all of the sudden? Why did Jip’s giant, at-least-three-story tall body dissipate within two seconds? Heck, we don’t know, and I get the feeling Pinna drew whatever images he felt like when he was high, and Fiffe added the words last minute.

While the action makes little sense, but the aftermath is far less logical. Spider-Man suggests that Taskmaster, Crossbones, and Scourge must be part of a larger conspiracy because they all wear skull masks, but the three are completely unrelated to each other. Fiffe doesn’t even follow up on Spider-Man’s comment anyways. After an annoying scene where Chang rips off Ultimate Nick Fury’s character, there is a very awkward scene in an elevator between Kitty Pryde and Jessica. The former seems to address some kind of crush she has had on the latter during the entire series, but I’ve never really seen any evidence of it. Jessica did reveal that she likes other girls in a past issue and joked about liking Kitty, but Fiffe never elaborated on this at all during the run as far as I can see. This, of course, made me very confused during the entire scene. The last scene that irritated me was the one between O’Reilly and Bart the forgettable schizophrenic. Bart should have never been brought back, as I didn’t even remember him while reading the story. I don’t remotely care if he has a new job or anything; I would be fine if he died in a drunken stupor after his last appearance. Maybe Fiffe is using symbolism and Bart symbolizes himself or something, because he’s had a strange affinity with him during the series.

My other main story complaint was that there were too many character, as was also my complaint for the last issue. Everything just gets confusing with all the different people in the battle, especially because all of them are so forgettable and annoying. You know there are too many characters when the reader is constantly going back to the recap section to figure out what people’s names are. (Heck, there’s even a character who doesn’t have a name!) The crazy amount of characters takes away from the Ultimates’ appearances, and it seems like they’re off-panel more than on-panel. I think the saddest thing about it is that Fiffe even forgets to put in one essential character: Scourge. He released Scourge from prison in All-New Ultimates #9 in preparation for this arc, but never used him. This only adds to the fact that this is the opposite of a neat conclusion that I was hoping for.

As usual, the artwork is just not good to look at for too long without wanting to commit suicide. Pinna’s pencil fails to provide any good energy to the lines. The panels flow doesn’t work well at all. The characters have awkward, scary faces that could easily give a young child nightmares. Terry Pallot, being the terrible inker he is, provides some sub-par inking which he must have done with a pen from the 99 Cent Store. At least he’s erasing the pencil lines, which is a bit of a step up for him. And, although I haven’t mentioned Woodard’s colors too much in the past, the disgusting shades of colors don’t complement the artwork at all. Even worse, characters’ skin tones change throughout the story, which doesn’t help with consistency. For example, Jessica looks like an orange for the elevator scene of the story.

Overall Rating

Blah. Blah. Blah. Quickly, somebody get me some Coke to wash this terrible taste from my mouth!

I guess I’ll give a summary of this series now. My grade for the average issue was 2 webs. It was a very mediocre at best 12-issue run. Fiffe just failed to write the Ultimates as an interesting super-team, constantly reverting to clichés and stories one would find in the teen angst section of Barnes and Nobles. The direction of the series was no different than every typical team book for a while: a street level team fighting a B-list gang. Fiffe created many characters that were largely very boring and forgettable. He always seemed to fail with his characterization right when it was needed the most. And, overall, Pinna’s artwork was just bad. I will never buy a book drawn by him again. Ever. The only time the series slightly picked up was for the issues between the two main story arc, and those issues weren’t even that great.

So, with All-New Ultimates gone, there is but a sole book in the Ultimates line: Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man. We all know the drastic measures that Marvel plans on taking to bring the Ultimate Universe to prominence again, and if you don’t, I won’t spoil it. But how did it get to this? Not too long ago, the Ultimate line was the first ever thriving alternate universe line of Marvel comics. Sadly, reboot after reboot has constantly interrupted the flow of the universe. Marvel rebooted it until it couldn’t anymore, and I predict it’ll probably be rebooted a few times more for good measure. Of course, the latest reboot has been so bad because Marvel simply didn’t pack the line with the quality creators that it used to. Ultimate Spider-Man got fantastic talent with the Bendis / Marquez team, but FF had Joshua Hale Fialkov, a writer I know to stay far away from, and All-New Ultimates had Michel Fiffe and Amilcar Pinna, two creators I know to stay far away from now. Editorial was just setting the line up to fail. I stand by my words when I say the Ultimate universe should have ended after Ultimatium.