Think of a show that got cancelled and try to remember the terrible final season that it ended on. Try to remember all the multiple subplots that the writers added in order to flex their creative muscles and prove to viewers why their show should never have been cancelled. “Look at what you could’ve had! Look at these characters we introduced!” Yet, in reality, all they did was complicate the storyline and create a jumbled final moment to be remembered by. Unfortunately for viewers, most people remember the end of something better than the beginning and thus the show goes down in infamy as never living up to its potential.
Now take that same process and put it into a comic book. That is what readers can expect in the second-to-last issue of All-New Ultimates. There is so much lost potential in this series one can’t help but puzzle over whether it was poor editorial decisions, last minute art changes, or just rushed scripts. Regardless of what the problem was, and because comics and appreciating comics are not about pointing fingers, something went awry in this series. Despite great attempts to get back on track, the train unfortunately derailed a long time ago and this series has one issue to pull off the hardest stunt in comics (which can still be done) and save itself.
#11 (part two of a three part finale) is a bit of a mess at this point. We have Taskmaster’s plan to capture the kids, which has gone awry since Sidewinder and Diamondback commandeered his vehicle. Atop of that, somehow Crossbones has survived the sewers and made his way back to Jip and Ecstasy. At that moment (not earlier, but only right then), Jip, in a moment of anxiety, suddenly turns into a “Pacific Rim” level monster and begins to tear down the Delandier Tower. The Ultimates, having just survived a flipped van and being dumped into the Manhattan River by Cloak, take their captured foes to the top of said tower where Crossbones, Jip and Ecstasy are located only to be immediately overwhelmed and loose track of their opponents. Then Terror, Inc. shows up. To say there are a lot of pieces on the board at one time is a bit of an understatement.
There are too many convenient meet-ups and too many unrealistic coincidences. All-New Ultimates has been riddled with these up until now and they’re coming to a head. What also hurts is the series has been frozen in the third act’s rising climax for several issues now with zero resolution in sight. How do they expect to stop Jip? Are the Ultimate FF going to show up? Where in the heck did Terror, Inc. pull all these weapons from? Is Lana going to seek psychological help after Poey’s death? Are Tandy and Tyrone ever going to work out their relationship? Who in the heck is Ecstasy and how does Roxxon, a publicly defaced company, still have corporate money to hire bounty hunters like Taskmaster to capture the Ultimates? You expect to hear “stay tuned true believers for all your answers!” But the truth is, there’s only one issue to wrap all of that up and more. So what is actually going on here?
This story has just been about kids who are hopelessly in over their heads and that’s not the characters Brian Michael Bendis introduced Ultimate readers to. The characters are out of whack, the drama feels forced and the art in issue #11 is inconsistent and looks rushed. Amilcar Pinna has Terry Pallot, Lorenzo Ruggiero and Le Beau Underwood assisting him with finishing inks in this issue where as they are uncredited in the last ten issues of this series. While there aren’t many visible examples of difference here, what smoothness Pinna was able to flesh out in earlier issues seems almost entirely absent in this one.
At the end of the day, if a book is not fun you should not be reading it. Granted it’s the eleventh issue of what will be 12, but I refuse to say this series is not fun. Even this issue has its moments, like Bombshell’s rage-fueled threat to Diamondback. However, it is safe to state that despite the wrenches thrown into the works, the series has six very special characters sharing a book at one time. It helps that in digging through his longbox, Michel Fiffe gave us many revamped characters that we may never get a chance to see again. Cherish what you can from this series because once it’s over, it may be over for good.
Inconsistent art and characters have riddled this series since practically the first issue. Whatever helped make this series work before has slowly waned and double plotting has trapped the storytellers into a troublesome final issue.