Friday, February 5, 2010

Ultimatum will Stand the Test of Time... At Sucking

Ugh. O.K. So, I'm not the first to read it, dislike it, or review it. I wouldn't even have read it this week if not for Linkara, who is planning to do a (probably) much funnier video critique quite soon. But it wasted MY time, and in turn I will waste yours.
Ultimatum by Jeph Leob and David Finch is a crossover event touted as the "end" of the Ultimate Universe, a Marvel comic superhero world originally invented as a 'hot, young, trophy wife universe' for every hypothetical reader who wanted to read superhero comics (thanks to seeing the movie versions) but didn't have the time or balls to read 40 years of continuity. The Ultimate X-Men did well for a while, so did the Ultimate Spider-Man. (I'm proud to own all of U.S-M, Brian Bendis is a fine writer) But, all good things and stuff, so, ergo... this happened.
'Ultimatum' is very well drawn and deeply stupid. Spoliers now.
It's a senseless orgy of death and destruction, serving primarily to kill dozens of knock-off versions of superheros I mostly didn't care about one way or the other. Which, doubtless, is why it sold so well. And, doubtlessly, was exactly what the editors had asked for.
Magneto drowns millions in an instant, disaster covers the face of the earth, resulting in mayhem, explosions, eviserations, and so forth. Sounds fun, right?
But, what's it all in aid of, exactly? What are we left with? What can we take home?
Knock-Off Ben Grimm kills one culprit, Knock-Off Dr. Doom, in cold blood. Damn. Was that ever dumb. I was thinking not AN HOUR before reading this that mainstream superheroes like the Fantastic Four and Superman have so MUCH power that if they ever allowed themselves to kill they would become instantly unsympathetic.
And it's true. How do I like Ultimate Thing now? Ben's meant to be the idol of millions, not Wolverine. I'm personally baffled why Wolverine is anyone's idol. But... oh, that's it. His butt. Girls and some guys like his rump.
Pursuant to the notion that crossing the line to killer is death for my interest in a superhero character, if Ultimate Cyclops was going to blow Magneto's head off anyway, why bother explaining the secret origin of mutants to him?
Also, and I must ask this, what is ANYONE'S motive here?
Why does Ultimate Blob eat Ultimate Wasp? Was there no smashed-up deli within reach? The character wasn't a cannibal previously. The disaster is only HOURS old!
Why does Ultimate Hank blow himself up? Granted, it couldn't happen to a bigger douchebag, but suicide should have a motive, right?
And Ultimate Dormammu squeezes Ultimate Doctor Strange until his head pops like a zit. While grisly, the scene made so little impact on the plot that I had to turn the pages back to remember who got killed that way. And all I have left is the mystery of WHY.
Because it just amounts to a cavalcade of Killporn. It's like a death checklist where the only imagination goes into the shock value. 'How should we snuff Dazzler?' and so forth.
Jeph Loeb is better than this, I swear. He's no Heinlein, but he's better than this. As my friend Ron put it: he probably just held his nose and took the paycheck.
Bad as 'All-Star Batman'? You bet.
Bad as 'Countdown'? Nope. At least this didn't mess with the 'real' continuity, right?
I'm grasping for a silver lining in this cloud. No, no that's a death wave. My mistake.

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