Seeing as how I rather liked Loeb's take on the Ultimates, I was curious to see why the next part of the story, this big crossover, met with such ire. Turns out it's a major fail, comprised of SO MANY minor fails. Let's do some close reading, just to capture a flavour of what the book offers.

First page, the establishing panel is pretty enough. Second panel, Sue and Reed look about 30 years old, and what's with Sue's hard-to-get attitude? Maybe I do, or maybe I don't? Where does the surliness come from? Fourth panel has Johnny as sulky teen. He actually tells his father: "you don't get me and you never will". Nuff said, really.

Second page, another pretty establishing panel. Panel two, Cap wants to go "on patrol" rather than await the next disaster. Patrol where, genius? The world? Panel three, Valkarie switches from giving Thor the sass to fawning over him WITHIN ONE SENTENCE. In panel four, Hawkeye -- that uncontrollable sweary psychopath -- berates Yellowjacket by calling him a "loon". Has he time-warped from Elizabethan England or what?

Third page, again nice establishing spread. Perhaps David Finch should stick to drawing buildings? In the second panel, Peter and Kitty look like elves from Middle Earth. Third panel, TERRIBLE banter with Kong. Panel four, Gwen's dejection completely unexplained, plus lamest comforting strategy / set-up for big reveal ever: "well, it's not like it could get any worse, right?" I wonder...

Enough with the details. The five issues pretty much continue in this vein. Actually, this being superhero comics, there was some stupidity I enjoyed. First, The Thing vs. a whale, just one standalone panel, completely unexplained, never called back to. Second, Danvers with a bust bigger than her head, balancing an assault rifle the size of her torso in the air with one hand, the other clutching a submachine gun, both weapons drawn FOR NO REASON. Third, Hela, just everything about her. Finally, of course, HULK SMASH MUMBO JUMBO!

There's a dialogue exchange that pretty much sums up the book as a whole. Thor: "How is it possible?" Captain America: "I don't know, we'll figure that out when this is over." (Btw, we don't figure it out). I suspect Loeb is hanging a lantern on the masses of fridge logic he's put in the story.

My favourite typo (of which there are several) is Magneto's "I am EVERYTHING but mad". Cracker.

There is a massive slab of Spidey's story missing from this volume, told in Bendis's run I expect. Seeing as it can stand alone, wouldn't it have been neater if it was just excluded entirely from the miniseries? Commercial considerations trump storytelling yet again!

The meaningless-death fatigue got to me as well. There was no time to earn each INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT character's passing, so you end up with the impression that they are almost falling at random.

There are themes of course. After the death of his children, Magneto goes mental and decides to remake the world in his image. He starts going on about Noah and the flood, the unworthy drowning, the worthy being saved, and him on the seat of judgement. Wolverine is right on the money (and really quite scary) when he attacks Magneto with the battlecry "God is DEAD!" Enjoyed that bit. There should be more blasphemy in superhero comics, I say.

The conclusion is less satisfying, unfortunately. Fury tells Magneto that mutants are not naturally (providentially) superior, but were created by a "crazy ass doctor" in a lab -- men deformed and abused by men. This rather interesting philosophical distinction is enough for Magneto to repent and change his ways. Slightly contrived, some might say, although I lean towards sympathy. At least the book tried to be clever.

Still, tried and failed. Ultimatum is just too badly constructed to redeem whatever ideas it is trying to explore. Probably the most idiotic event comic I have ever read. But there is a certain delight in idiocy of this magnitude. I was entertained, I have to admit.

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