Written by Mark Millar
Art by Carlos Pacheco
This is what Ultimates 3 should have been. In fact, I'm treating this series as if Ultimates 3 and Ultimatum never happened. As far as I'm concerned, this is just the fallout of the end of Ultimates 2. The only thing this fictional premise fails to explain is Hawkeye's hideous costume. However, Hawkeye is so, and I quote, "awesome" in this issue, I can forgive the Gunman Xtreme costume.
The most immediate thing most people will notice coming into this issue is the art. Pacheco is no realistic, widescreen action Bryan Hitch nor is he a manga for the masses Joe Madureira. His art is clean and tells a story, but, in my opinion, is fairly forgettable, being niether amazing nor terrible - just being, for lack of a descriptor. I'm not faulting him for it, either, as it's more a matter of taste I presume. I just dont' find anything unique or visually interesting or dynamic about his art.
Regarding the story of this issue, it would be unfair to call it a standard Mark Millar story. It has the hallmarks of a Millar story - widescreen storytelling, popcorn flick 'cool' moments and the occasional bit of snappy dialogue - but it's definitely one of his stronger executions of his typical style and it could be due to any number of factors, such as returning to the Ultimates or Marvel reining him in a little or anything in between.
As such, this led to a return to form for the Ultimate team in this issue. I particularly liked the opening sequence with the bit of meta commentary from Nick Fury about how he (Millar) has left for ten minutes and the place has gone to hell (LOEBBBB!!!!) and the focus on Captain America and Hawkeye, who, as I said, is "awesome" in this issue. Millar has a perfect grasp of each character in their Ultimate encarnations and it was a joy to see Hawkeye not moping around complaining about his dead family and how deep he is now with his new costume and outlook on life.
In fact, Hawkeye and Cap play off each other perfectly in this issue and the juxtoposition of Cap saving Hawkeye to start their story followed up by Hawkeye saving him from the Red Skull towards the end of the issue was about as good as it gets.
The revelation of the Red Skull's identity, which has been known for a while thanks to interviews, was still effective and seeing Cap get manhandled by his son (shouldn't he be 70+ though?) was a visually powerful scene.
Verdict - Must Read. Is this as good as Ultimates 1 and 2? I'm not sure, but I'm giving it a Must Read for the simple reason that the nightmare is finally over and we can have some good Ultimates style comics again.