With the unconfirmed rumor that that All-New Ultimates is coming to a close at #12, sometime shortly after January, readers may or may not be shocked and disappointed that this title is possibly wrapping up. That said, Marvel is going to do everything in it’s power to sell the remaining books and I can’t say I blame them. Besides printing and distributing the issues faster, we have a change of pace on artwork this issue and though it’s possibly four issues too late, it’s a welcome change.
Minimalist art is always a personal favorite of mine. Books like Hawkeye and She-Hulk are lauded for this style. Thankfully, the it appears that the new artist on All-New Ultimates #7, Gannis Milonogiannis, is striving for this same type of imagery. It works, or at least it works better than Amilcar Pinna’s pencils did when paired up with Michael Fiffe’s writing.
In terms of action paneling, what’s going on throughout the page is much clearer, though not perfect. An example is Dagger throwing her psionic light blades towards Agent Crock, a 616 Black Widow enemy, only to say, “S’okay — not used to getting hit by my own blades,” in the next panel. He apparently deflected the blades back at her, but this action isn’t seen in the panels.
With the change in art comes factors like faces and shading, which feel like an Americanized manga married with a Tim Sale approach. This offers an image with less lines and less of the gaunt faces readers are accustomed to from the previous six issues. Also working in favor of this issue are the cool, noir colors from Jordie Bellaire. The florescent, almost neon, warm colors that bled into pages and turned every series of panels into something from an 80’s action flick have been cooled down dramatically. Darker colors are everywhere and this is a definite plus for readers.
Cons of this change of art is we lose some detail in the facial expressions. There’s also the re-design of Vermin who looks a fuzzy Green Goblin rather than the sleek, bony, rat-faced crazy he is known to be in canon. Ultimate books are known for their re-designs of Marvel characters, but that is one large Vermin.
Fiffe’s book feels like it belongs in a DC line up with the Bat-family. The internal problems are more important to the story than the superhero antics, and when Fiffe is at the pen they do feel like simple antics rather than major crucibles. His villains have these twisted origins, but where is the motive?
We see Scourge being interrogated by Paul “The Crippler“ Dennis and Vernon “The No Intimidating Middle Name” Brooks. It appears Scourge, or Charlie Delanzy, became a vigilante because he was a racist janitor who got mugged too many times. Really? In 616, Delanzy is known as the Enforcer. He has tangled with the likes of Spider-Woman, Werewolf-By-Night, Ghost Rider, and even Captain America. Here we have an angry janitor trained to out maneuver the likes of the Ultimates and capable of executing dozens of crazed, Roxxon-drug using gang members. It’s not that this scenario can’t work, but there are a lot of missing pieces.
As Fiffe did in the first issue, we see him start to introduce new players and try to realign his board. Readers are introduced to Detective Duc No Tranh, otherwise known as “The Bengal.” This is a unique character to bring in and, if nothing else, proves Fiffe is well read in Marvel B-class (even C-class) characters. The myriad of presumed “nobodies” who have surfaced in this title alone proves Fiffe is trying to leave an impact and create a serious series of players he can change out and use.
The new tone of the comic is fun, something this book has needed for a few issues now. There’s some clunky dialogue between the teens and Black Widow/Jessica Drew still looks ridiculous in her outfit (at least she lost the silly jacket). The super teens themselves are still wildly out of character, however. After Vermin takes off Agent Crock’s hand, Jessica quickly puts the Vermin down, and the five of them watch as the rotted, walking corpse of Detective Terry Schreck just adds Crock’s hand to his own body and tells them about Crock’s life (as he appears to also be acquiring his memories). No one even bends over to be sure Crock isn’t bleeding out, no one leaves to get an ambulance, the four heroes just stand there, heads hung, as he fades. There’s a lack of understanding as to how these characters tick and it is worrisome that after this many issues the problems persist.
Thankfully, the book reads as a fun piece overall and to new readers this won’t be such a problem. This is an easy read for newcomers to the book seeing as the last six issues have no true consequence on this one, or at least none that the summary in the beginning cannot handle. A fresh start for a book that desperately needs one, here’s hoping the title still has time to climb back to the top.