All-New Ultimates #4 dares to ask the question "how much garbage will our readers tolerate before dropping the book?" Also, sex appeal or something, I guess. Spoilers ahead.
I think it's safe to say at this point that All-New Ultimates is just a downright terrible series. It didn't start good, and for a while I'd been hoping that it would start getting better, but this issue effectively killed off any of my hopes for that happening.
This is bad. This is really bad. This is as bad a comic book as I've ever read. The Ultimate Universe has taken it's fair share of criticism, most of which is totally deserved, but this is like— This is like Ultimatum levels of stupid.
I'll be honest, I've been putting off writing this review because for the past week, any time I try to write down words about this thing, it quickly devolves into angry rambling. Here's the main reason why, this episode is a swimsuit issue.
Because that's what we all wanted to see, right? When the news broke that a new superhero team was being put together filled with an awesomely diverse cast of the best characters in the 1610-universe, clearly what we all immediately jump to was "hurr durr, look at all them gurls, I shurrr can't wait to look at them bewbies."
And look, I don't want to sound like a prude here, if this were done for some sort of narrative reason that justified it, then sure, let's have a swimsuit issue. One of my favorite comic books of all time is 52, and Starfire's outfit in infamously skimpy even pre-New-52 (that sentence was probably really confusing to anyone who doesn't know what 52 is, you should check it out).
The problem is that this is not done for any narrative purpose. Roughly half the pages of this book are simply (poorly drawn, the art hasn't improved from last issue, and the only way I could tell which girl was which was by bikini color) sex appeal. It's pandering of the worst kind. There's literally an extended sequence where the girls all discuss their sex lives.
This is not a comic which respects its readers. This is a comic which thinks its readers are the lowest possible common denominator. This is a comic which thinks that its readership can be bought with cheap (and, again, poorly done) titillation.
You may have noticed from the images here that the men of the team aren't at the beach. Well, they give you some poorly contrived excuse that Cloak wants his "alone time," and Miles is swinging around with Ganke doing... Something, I'm a little unclear, but let's be real, it's because this comic wants to show you the guys doing "cool superhero action" which is poorly contextualized, or not contextualized at all (two pages pop up out of nowhere showing gang wars which are actively tearing apart New York, while our superheroes are very busy suntanning), and showing the girls for what this comic thinks women are good for: Eye candy.
The biggest plot development in this issue I actually understand is the reveal that Jessica, Spider-Woman, Black Widow, whatever she's calling herself now, is gay. This reveal immediately loses any sort of impact, because it's in this particular issue, and during the horrifically bad "girl talk" section I mentioned above, which immediately made it come across to me as a sleazy sort of "HEEEY, LESBIANS ARE HAWT, RIIIGHT? NOICE."
Oh, and then she immediately (and I mean immediately) starts hitting on her BFF Kitty Pryde, which is what normal people do immediately after coming out of the closet, right? I'm also pretty sure there's some unfortunate implications, or at least a general lack of creativity, in the fact that the only gay member of the team is the gender-swapped Peter Parker clone, but whatever, this comic clearly isn't interested in doing anything interesting with this reveal, why should I care about it in the first place?
Oh, and then Bombshell's boyfriend is subjected to death by mango.
I dunno, I can believe a lot of stupid stuff to read comics, I'm willing to buy that a giant purple planet eater named Galactus is a legitimate threat, I'm willing to believe that getting bit by a spider can give you super powers, I can believe in clones, and mutants, and all that stuff which obviously wouldn't fly in the real world, but I just can't imagine that a mango really makes the best silencer. I wouldn't have thought that's where my suspension of disbelief would run out, but it turns out, it is.
Also, then there's a part where the ridiculously-named Serpent Skulls led by Diamondback paralyze Bombshell with some magic powder, and the male members of the group try to rape her before Diamondback stops them because "FOLLOW MY ORDERS GUYS, I'M SUPER SERIOUS!" It's as bad as that sounds.
This is, this is just bad. Everything about this issue is bad. I liked nothing about it. Don't buy it. If someone offers you four dollars to take it off their hands, think long and hard about whether you want to accept that offer. I don't do score-based reviews, because I don't really believe in the scoring system, but geez, 0/10. No stars. -1, even, maybe. I don't know how that would work.
I am just ridiculously bummed out by just how squandered this book's potential has been. I wanted to like this, I really did, I was even willing to overlook a rocky start, but this is just too much. This is stupid, and sexist, and lousy, and creepy, and I just— I can't. It bums me out that some of my favorite Ultimate Universe characters are being utterly ruined by the book.
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