A mysterious alien force has launched stealth attacks on the American scientific establishment and on particular members of the New York superhero community. The Baxter Building and Roxxon Industries have been destroyed, or perhaps absconded with. Reed Richards is dead. Nick Fury and Spider-Woman have been attacked in their homes. And an alien assassin has just teleported into Aunt May’s front yard.
Carol Danvers, the head of SHIELD, attends an expository briefing on the alien attacks. She, like the reader, doesn’t understand who is doing this or why. She is also understandably upset about all of this, coming in the heels of Ultimatum. Hasn’t New York been bothered enough?
Needing some private time, Danvers visits the bathroom, where a hidden Nick Fury pulls a gun on her. Having been ambushed himself earlier in the day, he’s put together a list of potential culprits, and Danvers is at the top of the list. She doesn’t seem a likely candidate to me, but then I’m no paranoid badass, so what do I know? Naturally, the conversation progresses into a kung fu duel, but when a flunky brings word of alien violence at the Parker home, the two superspies put aside their differences to investigate.
Over in Queens, Bobby “Iceman” Drake sees the alien assassin and reacts instantly, building up an ice shield to protect the house and its inhabitants from the alien’s weird pink energy. Aunt May and Gwen Stacy flee the house, and good thing too, because the alien has a counter for all of Bobby’s ice tricks. It can bust ice shields, dodge ice spears, and break ice bonds. It looks like Bobby is going to get capped in the head by a pink energy blast, but luckily for him the cavalry arrives just in time.
Ben “the Thing” Grimm jumps on the alien’s back and pounds it into the pavement. The alien retaliates with a full-body energy blast that knocks the Thing a few houses down. “M’okay,” he gasps, but maybe not, as his rocky plates begin to glow with a strange white light. No time to worry about that, though, as the pink alien is still on the rampage, or it is until Sue “the Invisible Woman” Storm shows up. She uses her force-field power to lock the alien down and batter him about pretty severely. Not that he doesn’t deserve it, of course, as he killed Reed Richards and Sue, Reed’s ex, is very angry about that.
SHIELD shows up to secure the perimeter but other than that they don’t have anything to contribute, other than to bark a lot of orders. After all, the alien is secured: apparently he can’t teleport out of Sue’s force field. But maybe the alien isn’t the only problem. By this time white light is pouring out from behind all of the Thing’s scales. No one knows what this means, Ben least of all, but it can’t be good, can it?
A decent mix of action and plot here. We still don’t know who these bad guys are, but now we know that there appears to be only one of them, and he’s traveling around assassinating personalities from the New York superhero community. We also know that he’s been caught and imprisoned – for the moment – by Sue Storm. And we know that SHIELD is on the case and ready to manage this file.
But how are the aliens choosing their targets? Even Carol Danvers wants to know. And what do they hope to gain? Most interestingly of all, What Is Up with the Thing? Hopefully answers to all of these questions will be forthcoming in the last issue of this miniseries... though I wouldn’t be surprised if they get pushed back to Ultimate Mystery.
A good mix of superheroic action and plot development, even some character development as we see that, underneath her façade, Carol Danvers is still finding her way as boss of SHIELD... but she’s still the boss, and Nick Fury had better accept that.
Pleased as I am, though, there had better be a good explanation for all of this at some point. I need a reason why the aliens are attacking Spider-Woman but not the Triskelion, and it had better make sense... a reason beyond ‘this is an Ultimate Spider-Man and Fantastic Four crossover, and the Ultimates aren’t invited’. If none is forthcoming, this issue and this series are going to have to be retroactively downgraded.
Cover accuracy check: No, at no point do Spider-Man, the Invisible Woman, and Nick Fury spy on someone from behind a wall. In fact Nick Fury never shares a scene with the other two. And while Fury and the Invisible Woman do figure prominently in the story, Spider-Man is at best a bit player, his appearance only a notch or two above ‘cameo.’ This cover in no way delivers what it promises.