Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ultimate Origins #5 Review

Written by Brian Bendis
Art by Jackson Guice

I suppose I'll get this out of the way now. The Hulk and Captain America, both so prominantly displayed on the cover, do not appear in this issue. Not even a cameo. I know covers don't matter these days, but, come on, I can put up with a generic pose or promised fight that doesn't happen if the characters at least show up in the issue. I have no other words for how much I hate the sad state of the comic book cover these days.

Cover aside, this was another excellent issue of Ultimate Origin and I daresay this was the best event of the year, despite my misgivings over the first issue or two. As a lead-in to Ultimatum, this story did an excellent job of establishing the huge secrets concerning several key players in the Ultimate Universe, ranging from Nick Fury to mutants being man made to the establishment of Xavier and Magneto's relationship, and helped build these seemingly disconnected events into a coherent narrative and ended it with this issue's Watcher warning of impending destruction. As far as lead-ins go, this one did its job. I'm definitely interested in Ultimatum, even with Loeb at the helm. Scary, I know, but that's how good this series ended up.

Speaking of Watchers, this issue established who and what the Watchers are and they end up being similar to the Marvel 616 incarnations in that they simply watch other species and record specific events without ever taking action to prevent them. It's not explained if these are sentient beings or just robots created by someone else, but Uatu, the Watcher possessing and speaking through Sue Storm, after asking her permission (Such a polite alien. His mother would be so proud.), seems to be part of a hivemind or collective based on how he spoke of other Watchers but that's speculation on my part.

The Watcher outlines the pattern of destruction, which should invoke memories of previous issues and events from other Ultimate titles, and how they compare to other civilizations they've 'watched'. Their only conclusion is the destruction of this civilization being imminent and this is all played out in narrative as we're contrasted with images of what is surely going to be the spark that causes this destruction - the relationship between Xavier and Magneto and the falling out between them, as seen with the spear through the back of Charles Xavier, essentially crippling him, in the Savage Land.

While we've seen that before in Ultimate X-Men, this recap expanded upon it with the pyschic link between Xavier and Magneto established in previous issues of Origin. It seems Xavier tried to pyschically make Magneto see things his way and that caused the rift and skewering by Magneto. The dialogue / monologue by Magneto is definitely the highlight of the issue and, combined with the teaser poster of him with Thor's hammer, has me more excited about Ultimatum than I have any right to be, especially after seeing how Ultimates 3 turned out.

Ending the issue was the Watcher's appointing a herald to witness the destruction (or bring it about?) in the form of Rick Jones, who is now covered in a golden skin (Ultimate Adam Warlock?) and, I presume, having powers of some kind.

Verdict - Must Read. If you have even the slightest inkling of an interest in the Ultimate Universe, this is a must have by all accounts. Even without any interest in the Ultimate Universe I think this issue stands on its own as a great story.

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