By Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Bagley and Justin Ponsor
One of the most annoying things about the Ultimate Universe is that we keep getting these big events that promise to end it and that never seems to happen. Here we are now with Ultimate End, which again promises the very same thing and again, may not deliver. In issue one we were promised a battle in the opening pages. It’s three issues later and we still only get a whiff of that battle. At least it’s not as bad as Ultimatum though, right?
Brian Michael Bendis is an extremely accomplished writer who has done wonderful things for Marvel. Having said that, Ultimate End is not a good series. So little happens this issue that you could probably skip it altogether. In fact this series could have been told in two issues and still would have been bad. One of the biggest flaws to the book, aside from the lack of action is that many of the characters sound the same. It seems like Bendis is making them too hip; Spider-man, Dagger and Bombshell all talk alike. You could honestly play a guessing game of who said what, and be right every time because they all have the same voice. Another problem with this book is the pacing. Having a build up is very important for a story, but this has been 4 issues of build up and we will get one rushed final issue. A climax featuring two Tony Starks debating on how to execute a plan is pretty lame and very boring. Bendis has done some great things with the Ultimate Universe, but this issue definitely isn’t one of them.
The pencils are handled by Mark Bagley with colors by Justin Ponsor. If there is one saving grace in this issue, it’s that the art is still pretty good. Bagley has drawn all of these characters many times and this is some of his best work. Scenes involving the Punisher fighting Cloak and Dagger are well constructed, and we also get a cool panel of Punisher breaking free from Cloak’s cape. Bagley also has a nice wide panel of several Iron Man suits as they prepare to attack Tony’s former allies. Each suit is given a very distinct look and they all are original. The colors by Justin Ponsor are very good as well. His light colors still make you feel like you’re reading the good days of the Ultimate U. The art is the saving grace of the issue, but it’s not enough to make it enjoyable.
As we near the Ultimate End of this series, we have to hope something fun will happen. This issue really didn’t help any, which shouldn’t surprise people who read the first three. Brian Michael Bendis is better than this. This issue is just not good enough. The art is a nice little boost but it can’t pull Ultimate End #4 out of the gutter.