Back in 2000, Marvel launched a new line of continuum, in a revamped, reimagined line titled Ultimate Universe. An attempt to recreate beloved characters for a modern era, with updated storylines. The ongoing project has been a major success with titles from Spiderman and X-Men, written by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Millar, respectively. Part of this new Universe included a fresh perspective on the Avengers, redundantly renamed Ultimates. Released as limited issue runs Ultimates 1 and 2, are the work of celebrated comic author Mark Millar, both met with success and critical approval. Which lead to a third installment, a major comic event, Ultimatum and multiple attempts at a continued run.
Ultimates 3, released in 2008, is written by multi-faceted, award juggernaut, Jeph Loeb. Despite high numbers in pre-orders and sales, critical reception was not so kind. Being toted as one of the worst comics of the year, and a disappointing use of the Ultimates title and characters. Yet, the sales speak for themselves as the book was well received by audiences and the art is nothing to complain about. As Ultimates 3 featured the return of fan favorite X-Men artist, Joe Madureira, after a decade hiatus, in video game production.
Who killed Scarlet Witch? Is the theme that drives the plot of this third Ultimates title. As the team deals with internal struggle, including a released sex tape of Tony Stark and the late Black Widow, a reckless, borderline suicidal Hawkeye, and Hank Pym being under house arrest. An innocent excursion of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch results in the fatal shooting of the latter. As a war breaks out between the Ultimates and The Brotherhood, over the body of the late mutant and the loyalty of her emotionally tormented brother, it is revealed that the assassination may have been the work of somebody, or something, from the inside.
Featuring cameos from Spiderman, Hulk, Wolverine and a whole platter of villains, Ultimates 3 is packed full of action, character developments and relations. Cramming too much into the short run. The main plot suffers for it, as it feels rushed, unexplained and convenient. There are many elements to the overall story line that were unnecessary and lacked sense. Given more space to breath, the plot may have had a chance to develop clearer, as the story shows high potential. There is ultimately (ha), just too much happening, ending up feeling like a glimpse of what actually happened.
The characters, which was the focal point of critical dissatisfaction, was actually one of the more entertaining points. Fair, this book lacked the feel and attention of its predecessors, yet, the fresh perspective on established characters worked for the positive. Heroes such as Hawkeye or Captain America, which can often feel predictable, were anything but. While staying true to what is needed and expected of major players, there was a depth added to many, that is unique to the Ultimates line. Reading these reimagined characters is one of the biggest draws to this and equivalent comics.
An enjoyable little romp through an alternate universe, there are many facets of entertainment to be taken from this title. Unfortunately with its restraints, no part of the book was truly well established. A 3/5, which is a typical score from me of a comic that I am happy to have read, yet nothing stood out. If you are a fan of the Ultimate line, or enjoy the different perspectives of alternate universes, than this book is worth a glimpse. There are plenty of elements to see, but leaves you with holes for you to fill in with your own imagination.
Thanks booknerds, maybe I should launch an Ultimate Green Onion line?