Nick Spencer is one of the young guns at Marvel and after loving his Indie work at Image and being a keen admirer of his early Morning Glories material, I loved the fact that Marvel had him try to resuscitate this flailing line which I think could only be touched by Mark Millar or Jon Hickman. Please, Jeph Loeb…keep your Ultimatum to yourself. That said, Paco Medina has always impressed me on X-Men and Deadpool, and I think is one of the most unheralded, underrated artists in the stable.
They prove a well-matched duo here as they chart the course for the mutants that are on the lam. Seeing Bobby, Shroud and Johnny Storm weathering the aftermath of Peter Parker’s death is intriguing given that Storm and Colussus are at a mutant POW where there is an uneasy ‘peacetime’. Throw in Nick Fury, the Xorn twin dynasty and an embattled Stryker…it’s a powder keg that’s begging for the fuse to be lit. Enter Quicksilver. He’s as conniving as can be here, reminiscent of Mystique 616, but it all falls flat with Rogue and the Maximoff family. At the cusp of Spencer’s story, he tries to add tension, lead up a drama that culminates with some big revelation…but that payoff never comes. I think he forgets that the dead need to stay dead in this title. It’s a very worthwhile effort but it lacks a degree of conviction which hinders the process. (7/10)
Bendis comes up trumps here. He has Sara Pichelli’s pristine art to thank for that here…she speaks volumes. It’s majestic how good she is…and the likes of Bagley and filler, Chris Samnee, on this title do so well…yet Pichelli owns this. Bendis paints on a blank canvas the new Ultimate Spidey in Miles Morales and it’s a quirky fun and lovable adolescent ride as he goes through similar motions what Parker went through. Their origins follow a similar rollercoaster but instead of Uncle Ben, it’s Miles’ uncle – the criminal Prowler – that sets his world on fire, both as a civilian and as a hero. Miles’ bumbling through life, his awe of Fury’s team, his lust to be a hero…and his infatuation with following Peter’s footsteps seep in well to the reader. Gwen, Aunt May and a host of older castmates have such a pivotal role here and they do so in small manners…yet it is quite potent when they rear their heads. This is a human spin on things…more than the predecessor title…and it ties in well. Seeing Miles meet 616-Peter when Bendis crosses them over should be quite dandy. (8/10)
Yost, Bunn and Fraction eke out scripts with the likes of Lanning, Bagley and Pelletier sketching and it’s a veritable ultra team-up following FEAR ITSELF. The 8 hammers of the Worthy are being coveted by Sin, daughter of the Red Skull and avatar for evil, while Valkyrie disobeys Avenger orders to apprehend the weapons and compile her secret dossier in the shadows. There are too many twists and turns and distrust in her as an Avenger that it’s implausible how she enters, leaves and reenters the team. There are quite a few daft moments…that even the exorbitantly WTF moments with Sin, Crossbones and Daimon Hellstrom, seem like minor shudders. The handle on Valkyrie is totally off as she interacts with so many 616 characters. It’s downright distasteful how shoddy scripts get as she and Sin go hammer-hunting. Sin is Jason Tood…only Brubaker should be writing her…because after FEAR…anything else that any writer tried to do…sucked badly. I sound juvenile but the easter egg hammer hunt here is so go-lucky and misinformed…with so many plotholes…and a disaster of a supernatural plot…I wonder how this made it past editors. The story lacks cohesion and any fluency garnered dissipates in the ‘climax’…which yes…gets woeful. It’s an utter disaster (3/10)
Geoff Johns elaborates in a spiteful manner on a trio of transgressors, apparently being judged by the Council of Shazam. It’s Pandora, the Phantom Stranger (with a Judas-spin to him) and a whole new take on the Question. Johns has touched on Billy Batson recently and he clearly plans on using magic to be the hinge of future JLA arcs as he teases the Trinity War. It’s the JLA versus what I think may be the JLA or JSA of Earth 2. That said, the mystical feel, the veering and peering into separate earths, the clandestine ship being run and hiding artifacts, unbeknownst to the current JLA, all pique interest here. There are many nods and easter eggs as Johns teases the future. His diverse array of talented artists are most appreciated, especially the final page splash of wonder by Jim Lee. It teases an impending war where Batman and Pandora are using a box or a skull it seems…as something to decide the fate of the world. A lot of origins have been revised and here…retcon finally seems to have meaning. (8/10)