Recently, the Ultimates have decided to halt a gang named the Serpent Skulls from selling dangerous super-power drugs. Lana assisted her boyfriend is destroying the Serpent's main supply, but the villains responded by killing Poey. Even worse, the Serpents have poisoned Lana with a mind-control gas, planning on using her to destroy the Ultimates!
|Cover Art:||David Nakayama|
|Lettering:||VC's Clayton Cowles|
In Chelsea, Spider-Man, Black Widow, and Kitty Pryde attack a bunch of gangsters. The team decides that, instead of pointlessly attempting to “talk sense” to the villains, they should just resort to beating them up. Eventually, the fight ends when Spider-Man smashes a goon’s car. The heroes notice that the thugs weren’t Skulls…so what were they doing on their turf? “Retaliation? Peace treatise? Date night?” Kitty suggests. Miles decides that they should “play junior detectives” after rounding the villains up.
At the Ultimates Headquarter, Tandy is giving Ty a back massage, and he is angry at the heightened criminal activity. “It’s like we never get time to ourselves anymore,” Cloak says. Eventually, what looked like an innocent massage leads to something a bit more. (To be honest, I think they’re having sex, but it could just be a trippy LSD-driven lightshow…)
In Midtown Manhattan, Diamondback forces Bombshell to empty her bank account and give her the cash. “Rich you are not, Miss Bombshell. No wonder you hated a drug dealer,” Diamondback sneers. A goon asks how long the hypnotic dust will work, and Diamondback explains it’s enough time for Lana to lead them to the Ultimates. She’s a bit disappointed that she couldn’t provide any secret identity information, but decides that it’s “showtime.”
Meanwhile, when Detective Bridget O’Reilly arrives at the Ultimates’ gang bust, Spider-Man says, “I was wondering when some authority figure would be showing up.” The detective explains she isn’t going to arrest the teen heroes, and details the ongoing gang war to them, “My squad’s hands are tied in official policy, but you people--I don’t see you having a chain of command to answer to.” The Ultimates are surprised by her suggestion, but she explains, “All I can suggest you do your part against the gangs…and hope you cancel each other out.” The heroes are thoroughly confused by O’Reilly, and they decide to depart from the scene when their signals go off.
Detective O’Reilly’s schizophrenic informant, Bart, from the past few issues, explains that he knows the Ultimates’ headquarters is at the “old, crappy” church. O’Reilly wants to follow his lead, but she’s concerned about bringing Bart to a clinic. The poor schizophrenic goes off about seeing the darkness because of Cloak and getting “right.” As he walks away, he rationalizes, “…you gotta help those heroes out. And my job…is to stay outta your way and find my own help.”
In the Ultimates Headquarters, Cloak and Dagger are annoyed to find their signals going off. Spider-Man, Kitty, and Black Widow arrive at the church and ask what the emergency is. Since none of them set it off, they figure it must be Bombshell…but she’s nowhere to be.
Suddenly, a group of Serpent Skulls appear and the battle begins! Dagger and Black Widow succeed in their fights, but Kitty can’t seem to lay a finger on the goon she’s battling. In a deck above, Diamondback observes with Lana and Crossbones. “They have spirit, but who gives a crap about any of that? They’ll go down easy enough,” Diamondback boasts. Crossbones doesn’t dismiss the teenagers as easily, and he instructs her to kill Lana as soon as she’s out of her trance. He then leaps into the battle.
Outside the church, Detective O’Reilly is disappointed to find the Serpent Skulls have blocked the entrance to the church with a mass of goons. In a Westside Highway Slum, a few officers are following a lead about the possible whereabouts of Scourge. They’re disappointed that they cannot find the villain, but he hides in a closet close to them. One officer is about to discover Scourge, but he is alerted about the activities at the church and leaves. Scourge hears about it too.
At the battle scene, Crossbones quickly takes down Spidey, Cloak, and Black Widow. Kitty, though, catches him off-guard when his fist goes through her phase form. Sadly, that doesn’t halt him from brutally beating Spidey. In a separate event, Cloak is successfully attacking two Serpents.
On the platform above, Diamondback orders Lana to “aim right at [Cloak’s] head--and just blow him away.” She’s about to unwillingly follow the orders when the Serpent leader mentions her dead boyfriend, Poey. Bombshell regains control and blows the platform they’re standing on. With this blast, the church catches fire and the tower begins to collapse. Bombshell emerges from the fire and yells, “I don’t care…how many of you I catch but…you’re all…dead!”
This issue of Ultimates wasn’t bad, but it fails to be anything more than that. Mainly, it’s all action and set-up to the final installment of Ultimates. There isn’t too much plot or any creative themes to really look back on; mainly Fiffe concentrates on bringing all his plotlines together for a conclusion that will hopefully exceed the quality of its lead-up. The characters don’t have any really interesting interactions. The dialogue is mediocre, as many lines are awkward and Fiffe needs to work on his one-liners. Overall, it’s a rather slow issue. (It almost reminds me of something Brian Michael Bendis would write.)
As far as things go, I really hope the next issue ties up this whole Serpent Skull plotline. The gang is full of bland, typical villains. Although I enjoy their counterparts in the regular 616 Universe, Ultimate Crossbones and Scourge lack the interesting spin that is common among the other revised characters of the universe. I know this series is ending at issue 12, but I hope Fiffe doesn’t try to turn the Serpent Skull plotline into a 12-part epic or anything. I wish he would just start a new arc and try to finish the series strong.
My main concern about this issue, as usual, is the artwork. Pinna sucks as a storyteller, as the pacing of his scenes are always a little off and he misses emotional beats in the fight scenes. The details on characters are always so awkward and creepy. The plot for this issue is mainly action, so the comic relies heavily on the art, which doesn’t perform well. I know some people can read a comic book and consider it good, even if the art is poor, but I just can’t. No matter what, I cannot give this book more than 3.5 webs if Pinna stays on this book. (I think he’s taking a few issues off after this arc, so let’s hope the next artist is better…)
Mainly a set-up issue with some baaaaaaad artwork. I would give it 2 webs, but I'll give it another half in hopes the arc ends well next issue.