Best Shots Extra: Ultimatum #1

David Finch Talks Ultimatum

Ultimatum #1

From: Marvel

Writer: Jeph Loeb

Art: David Finch with Danny Miki

Color: Steve Firchow

Letters: RS & Comicraft

Preview with our David Finch interview over here  

Spoilers on!

After all the build-up, Ultimatum finally arrives. The promise of death and destruction has been hanging in the air for quite a while, along with reports of a totally reconfigured (even dead) Ultimate Universe. If the apparent casualties in the first issue hold up . . . man, they weren’t kidding.

Things begin, rather specifically, at 4:12 pm on a Tuesday. It’s a snapshot of a regular day in the Ultimate Universe. Reed’s about to propose to Sue. The Ultimates bicker. Peter Parker and his friends are on the L in Midtown. Several X-Men are by West 42nd in the Theatre District. Then, overwhelming disaster strikes. A storm pops up, and then, by 4:13pm, a storm surge of Biblical proportions sweeps a wall of water into the city. That’s when people start to die. The shock of the disaster is pretty intense. Focusing on the immediate cost to the heroes rather than the civilians or property, we see what could possibly be the deaths of three X-Men, two members of the Fantastic Four, and two Ultimates. Within minutes, Reed stays true to character and begins pursuit of Sub-Mariner. Across the world, Latveria has its own catastrophe: a flash freeze. For his part, Charles Xavier is feeling the death and knows who is responsible; he sends out a telepathic message for the surviving heroes to gather. The final pages offer the big revelation.

This is some of Jeph Loeb’s best scripting in a while. I’m a big fan of his Long Halloween and Superman for All Seasons, but I had no affinity for his recent Ultimates 3 at all. Here, he has all of the character personalities well in hand and structures the tension extremely well. The fallout of the tsunami is totally logical in terms of the characters’ emotional and psychological reactions. What really sells this, though, is the phenomenal art of David Finch. His Manhattan scenes are just staggering, and he makes the situation dynamic and desperate. There is an incredible amount of detail herein, from Hank Pym’s outfit to the layouts of everyday New York in the first few pages; it’s a really great effort.

There’s one fairly significant problem with the story, but it’s not the fault of any of the creators. The preview images released by Marvel and used in some ads are actually of the final page. If you go in expecting to see that image, then you’re not nearly as surprised by the ending as you might be. It takes out some of the emotional sting.

Nevertheless, Loeb, Finch, and the others do strong work here. I’m not sure what the endgame of this is supposed to be; if they’re looking for a major shake-up laden with hooks to bring you back for the next issue, they’ve done it.

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