By Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Bagley and Justin Ponsor
I know what you’re thinking: isn’t this the 18th time the Ultimate Universe is set to end? You’re right, Ultimate End is the newest book promising the end of the comic line. This time it feels like it’s the real deal though. So, now that we got all that cleared up, we can move on and discuss the facts.
It makes sense that Brian Michael Bendis was tapped to write this series since he’s had his hand in so many of the influential books. Ultimate End starts off very good with a monologue from the Punisher as he eyes potential victims from both universes. After that though, the issue cools down and we are thrown into a conversation between some of the prominent characters from both worlds. Bendis writes many of the characters well, and he should since he has worked with them all. The problem for the issue comes in as we get a 10-page conversation about what the characters should do. Everybody knows Bendis is a dialogue man, but this is more than half the issue and nothing really gets settled. Also, we should wonder why 616 Cyclops and Spider-Man are present at this meeting since they should be on the life raft with Reed Richards. Bendis is laying down groundwork for the rest of the series, but this initial issue fell a little flat.
The pencils are done by Mark Bagley this month with colors by Justin Ponsor. Bagley is also the logical choice to work this event since he shared a historical run on Ultimate Spider-Man with Bendis. His work here looks very nice and it’s cool to see him draw 616 characters like revolutionary Cyclops or mohawk Storm. Bagley handles a full page spread of both universes colliding with ease. This is one of the best pages in the book and Bagley does a terrific job showing tons of Marvel heroes from both worlds. He also makes just the smallest of differences between the two Tony Stark’s as they get into a heated discussion; it’s great detailed work. The colors by Justin Ponsor are very good as well and his style looks great in the Ultimate Universe.
The bar for Secret War tie-ins is pretty high because the event is extremely good. Ultimate End isn’t the greatest start to a series, but there is a ton of room to grow. Brian Michael Bendis is a writer that has done it all with these characters and can no doubt make this an interesting story. Mark Bagley looks like he never quit drawing these characters and continues to shine with his work at Marvel. While this wasn’t the best opener, it should get another chance because Bendis and Bagley do excellent work together.