Hello all! Welcome back, to another week and another review, and the kick off of my Miles Morales Week! This week, I’ll be reviewing Ultimate Fallout #4, a $3.99 Marvel comic. The cover art is supplied by Mark Bagley, Andy Lanning, and Justin Ponsor, while the variant cover is by Marko Djurdjevic. VC’s Corey Petit and Clayton Cowles are the letterers, of this issue. This issue features three separate short stories, by three different creative teams, each focusing on and starring a different character, and going into how they are dealing with the aftermath and fallout of Spider-Man/Peter Parker’s death. Most importantly, this issue features the debut of Peter Parker’s successor as Spider-Man, the Marvelous Miles Morales!!! Since this issue is broken down into three parts, my review will be too. So with no further ado… let’s get on with the show, er, review!
PART ONE: Spider-Man
The “Spider-Man” lead story is written by Brian Michael Bendis, with art by Sara Pichelli, and colors by Justin Ponsor.
The story opens with the Kangaroo, who is fresh out of prison and kicking the crap out of some guy he did a job with and who owes him money, when suddenly, he’s interrupted by a familiar and recently deceased face… Spider-Man!!
Over the next several pages, we get to watch Spidey, albeit in a set of duds a bit different from his traditional ones, battle the Kangaroo, in a well done and fun to read fight. Onlookers openly question how Spider-Man can still be alive, and on more than one occasion, tell our mystery Spidey that his costume is in “terrible taste”. This Spider-Man displays the same superhuman agility, superhuman strength, and ability to stick to walls that Peter Parker did. This Spidey even has a Spider-Sense, although, I get the feeling that he is not totally sure what it is when it starts “buzzing”, as he says. He even has a penchant for the good ol’ witty banter, we’ve all come to love and expect from Spider-Man. After taking down the Kangaroo, Spidey retreats to the rooftop of a nearby building, and removes his mask to reveal his identity to us, the readers. This is an all new all different Spider-Man! Introducing… Miles Morales!!!
Brian Michael Bendis’s writing is strong throughout, despite the short length of the story. As usual, Bendis treats us to his consistently great and natural sounding and flowing dialogue. In my opinion, that is Bendis’s greatest strength, as a writer, and my favorite part of many Bendis written stories.
Italian artist, Sara Pichelli’s art is very eyecatching and suits Spider-Man quite nicely, I think. It’s no surprise, actually. Ms. Pichelli already has a run on Ultimate Spider-Man under her belt, spanning Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #15–20 (Ultimate Spider-Man #149–154), so it’s not by accident, she has a firm grasp on how to draw Spidey doing his thing. Her strength as an artist is really in the subtleties, of things like hair, facial expressions, and body language, and even in this short story, there are flashes of these strengths. Beginning with Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1, in September, she will be the ongoing artist for the title – starring Miles Morales as the protagonist.
PART TWO: Reed Richards
The “Reed Richards” portion, of this issue, is written by Jonathan Hickman, and features art by Salvador Larroca, with Frank D’Armata handling the colorist duties.
We open this story, with Reed Richards alone and floating aimlessly through the Negative Zone, after his previous fall from grace. This chapter is fairly quick and straight forward. Reed is trying to figure out a way to get home, and he’s thinking about how he can fix what he perceives to be wrong with the world and save everyone. He wonders, why they couldn’t understand and why they don’t see that “the world has it wrong”. He also goes about using his amazing intellect to fashion a device that can transport him from the Negative zone and back home. Once back home on Earth, Reed unveils his plans for his ongoing education and for a grand evolution experiment he intends to conduct – with human beings.
Jonathan Hickman’s writing was interesting and well done. Most of the words, in this story, are all just Reed’s thoughts, communicated to us in caption boxes, and Hickman does a great job conveying that Reed’s mind is racing, and that he’s thinking about a handful of different things, all at once.
Salvadore Larocca’s art is rock solid, as always. He did a lot of nice work with Reed’s face, to show how expressions changed with his thoughts, at the time. I especially liked the way he drew all the high tech machinery, and things of that nature… very cool, slick, and clean. Frank D’Armata’s colors and effects also make all the tech really POP!
PART THREE: Valerie Cooper
The “Valerie Cooper” portion, of the book, is written by Nick Spencer, and has art by Clayton Crain.
This entire story takes place, while Valerie Cooper and Brett meet for coffee, and Val enjoys some delicious pistachio ice cream that she can’t stop raving about. Val Cooper is a Special Adviser to the president on Superhuman and Mutant Affairs and Brett is a foreign affairs correspondent. They are discussing, among other things, Captain America’s “dislike” of doing interviews and the press. Brett is informing Val about some big time secrets she’s found out in Vancouver. Brett recently had a meeting with an old man there, who is a mutant, and says that “he spent a bunch of years locked in a government research facility getting experimented on”. Meanwhile, Val does her best to rationalize it away by saying, “It was the Wild West. Everyone was poking and prodding mutants.” Val is clearly skeptical, and gets defensive,; and begins to defend what the government is currently doing with/to mutants. She says, “… what we’re doing now, it’s not like that.” The old mutant has used his power, to mentally share his memories with others, to show Brett exactly what he lived through. Brett has also used the Freedom of Information Act to petition to get the, somehow, unclassified file on the whole operation. She is, basically, about to blow the lid off of the entire understood history of mutants in the Ultimate Universe! The meeting ends on a funny note with Val and ANOTHER amazing truth about mutants being told!
Nick Spencer’s writing, in this exposition heavy story, is well done. He does a very good job at conveying that these two women, Val Cooper and Brett, are friends and their conversation really does have a nice flow and natural candor.
Clayton Crain, whose artwork I am familiar with and a fan of from his work on the last run of X-Force, handles the art duties of this last story quite well, especially considering there are no action or fight scenes to take your attention away from the conversation taking place. It’s cool to follow the changing expressions on Val Cooper’s face as Brett informs her of the information she has uncovered. I also like the way he varies the focus of some panels, and differentiates the foreground from background, to draw you into the meeting and conversation of the characters. Crain also handles his own color work here, and he does so with his usual excellence. I enjoy the painted feel his artwork tends to often have.
To summarize, a number of major events and startling reveals occurred within the pages of Ultimate Fallout #4. From the introduction of an all new Spider-Man, to the return of Reed Richards, and some downright shocking revelations about mutants; this issue is a MUST READ for any and every fan of Marvel’s Ultimate Universe!
All images are property of Marvel Entertainment.