I don't know how many among us here read the first issue of All-New Ultimates, but I saw it in the comic shop today, remember being excited for it when it was announced, and so I picked up a copy. (Spoilers)
It was not the jumping on point I had hoped for. I absolutely loved Ultimate Spider-Man, and some of the tie-ins to that universe (such as Ultimate Comics: Doomsday, the best crossover from that series which I've read), but other than reading a bit of the Miles stuff (and he seems great, by the way) I'm kind of behind on the universe as a whole.
I have noted that I tend to only really love the Bendis stuff written in the Ultimate universe, which I do think is fantastic (and in fact I prefer Ultimate Spider-Man to 616 Spider-Man at this point), but I enjoyed the first Ultimates series, and I love a lot of the line-up for All-New Ultimates (love, love, love Ultimate Kitty Pryde and Ultimate Spider-Woman), so I thought I'd jump back in. I understand that there was some kind of big event just concluded recently, Ultimate... Something or other, so I gathered that I'd probably be a bit lost as to the specifics of that, but a well done follow up can tell an excellent story even if you haven't read the precursor, especially when it's supposed to be the start of a new series, like this is. DC's series 52 is my favorite comic book series of all time, which leads directly after one of the crises (Final Crisis? Infinite Crisis? I-Identity Crisis? That was one of them, right? I don't know, even as a DC fan I can't keep track of their events.), and I've never actually read the crises it follows.
All-New Ultimates #1 wasn't terrible by any means, but it did feel pretty underwhelming to me. It honestly felt like an info dump of an issue, but not in any specific ways. From what I can gather, at the end of whatever this is following, SHIELD was disbanded (Which, let's be honest, Ultimate SHIELD is not the most competent organization in the world), Captain America died (actually shocked I didn't hear about that happening, since death in the Ultimate universe tends to stick a bit more, like it has with Peter Parker), and Jessica Drew got a bunch of teenage heroes together to form, as the title indicates, All-New Ultimates. All right, neat, let's start our story.
The biggest problem I encountered here was that the "villain" of the issue, whose name escapes me and who I will call boil-face-man, isn't really introduced. I'm sure he must have been involved in one of these other character's stories, and I gathered his origin somewhat, that he's created by an untested Roxxon compound which sounded similar to OZ, and that he seemed to have disease powers of some kind, but as a reader who's fallen out of the Ultimate universe a bit lately, everything about him and his much bigger buddy was confusing to me.
The highlight of the issue was Kitty Pryde's only appearance in it, as Jessica tries to convince her to join the new Ultimates. I really liked this part, and I found the arc they appear to be setting up for Kitty, that she's now a beloved hero for saving the world, but doesn't know how to react to it and how to feel about the world which so recently REALLY hated her now loving her. "The world forgot its hate, and I'm supposed to be all smiles?"
I love Ultimate Kitty Pryde, I actually wish we'd gotten to see more issues with her and Peter paired together way back when, and I also really like that Jessica and her seem to have formed some kind of friendship. I don't think I'd ever seen them together before, but it makes a lot of sense.
On the flip side, that scene also felt like the only one where any character's personalities really got a chance to shine through. So much focus was shifted away from our supposed leads in this issue that most of their time in the story was of them fighting snake people, which I can't help but feel made them a little bit bland.
I feel like this is best personified by Bombshell's brief appearances in this issue (by the way, I don't know when or how it happened, but I love the fact that Bombshell has become a superhero now). She's just given such little time to shine, and so few lines, that if I wasn't familiar with who the character was to begin with, I probably would have forgotten about her entirely.
Oh yeah, and there are snake people (mutants?) and Jem of Jem and the Holograms fame shows up at the end. *shrug*
The art also felt all over the place. There are spots where it felt really strong and clear to me, and there are other parts where character's faces are left undetailed when they shouldn't be, and where characters feel a bit misshapen.
A much rockier start than I was hoping for. There was just enough good in this issue to keep me reading, and I'll probably give it a few more issues before making a judgement call, but this issue felt like it rushed to drop us into some story arc I only half-understand (there are snake-people mugging normal-people, and I gather that's bad), rather than giving us defined personalities for the characters, and some sort of strong hook to tell me why I should keep reading.
At least they picked a good lineup for the team.
I know I sound really harsh here, and at the end of the day I did enjoy the issue, but with the cast of colorful characters they had to work with (I don't mention Cloak and Dagger here, by the way, because I know literally nothing about Cloak and Dagger, Ultimate or otherwise), for the personalities to fall flat, and for the launch of the series to be confusing and kind of uninteresting, just kind of sucks. It feels like I jumped into a series at, let's say, issue 12 or something, when the premise had already been established and we were just building on that, but this is supposedly a #1 issue, so I find that kind of unacceptable.
Edit: Oh yeah! And Spider-Woman is calling herself Black Widow now. That's out of nowhere. I kind of dig the legacy name, but considering that Black Widow was a SHIELD traitor in the Ultimate universe, it seems really weird that she'd choose that. Also, the pillow vest looks silly.
Edit 2: Also, if Cloak and Dagger are supposed to be dead, why are they just running around in Hell's Kitchen superheroing? In a social media world, it seems like they'd be on the front page of TMZ pretty quick.