Monday, December 19, 2011

The Ultimates #4

Cover by Kaare Andrews, Christ Stevens

The Ultimates #4 (November 30, 2011)
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Penciller: Esad Ribic
Colorist: Dean White
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

I think something happened either to me or the creators of this series between the last issue and this one because The Ultimates #4 took a serous nosedive.

I’m just not feeling this one: the plot wasn’t terribly exciting, the pacing felt awkward and I especially did not care for the artwork. And I loved it in the last issue! Maybe I’m just easily bored, I don’t know.

I think the trouble lies in the fact that since series has segued from a Ragnarök-esque tale to a very angry, very bloated action comic with little heart. I enjoyed the earlier issues because the characters were dynamic and emotional against the backdrop of epic fight scenes, debilitating battles and creepy villains. Plus, I’m still mourning the loss of all my Norse gods. Now everyone just feels like caricatures: Nick Fury wasn’t very interesting, Hawkeye and Iron Man were thrown to the sidelines, the villains weren’t gripping and Thor was kind of silly.

I was happy to see that Thor actually did not commit suicide as hinted at in the previous issues. Of course, I knew Hickman couldn’t kill off Thor but I was confused as to why no one else thought to follow Thor into the City of the Tomorrow People. Maybe Tony Stark just has a deeply rooted sense of self-preservation.

The very last reveal at the end of this issue was kind of interesting in a vague way, I suppose. I mean, Reed Richards was mentioned as having a diabolical connection to these deadly Tomorrow People, which I suppose, if you’re a Fantastic Four or Future Foundation (still an incredibly stupid name) fan, is exciting. Hopefully Hickman will bring Richards into this series in an exciting way, which will be a change for me, as I never cared for the guy.

I was also surprisingly turned off by the art in this issue. Ribic’s facial expressions were really over the top. Poor Captain Britain suffered from the silliest facial expressions I’ve seen in a long time. He basically spent this entire issue gaping open-mouthed like an idiot the whole time. Also, in one panel, where his back was to the reader, it honestly looked like he wasn’t wearing pants. I blame White’s coloring. I know the lower half of Captain Britain’s costume is white but here, I seriously thought the comic took a weird and uncomfortable turn. I showed the panel to some co-workers and all but one instinctively thought we were looking at Captain Britain’s bare ass. It was weird.

Also, Ribic’s depictions of fight scenes were way too busy and dizzying. The physics and anatomy just seemed off. I’m not an artist at all but I know I was cringing at most of the panels.

I’m really hoping Hickman improves with the next issue. And I sincerely hope I’m not just embarrassed for Captain Britain again.

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