Cataclysm: The Ultimates Last Stand #4

Posted by Donovan McComish 19 March 2014

Hello everybody and welcome to my review of Cataclysm: The Ultimates Last Stand #4.

Synopsis:

As Galactus continues to construct his world eating machine, the X-Men observe from New York. Jean Grey and Jimmy Hudson suggest that they leave, but Kitty Pryde doesn't want to abandon the city to it's fate, saying they have to do something. As if on cue, Captain America arrives with Hawkeye via helicopter, asking the X-Men for their help. Storm and Hudson aren't too happy about this, but Cap isn't bothered about what they think as he's there primarily for Kitty, telling her the world needs her.

Soon afterwards, Kitty enters the Helicarrier with Cap and the rest of the X-Men, receiving a hug from an enthusiastic Tony Stark and a request for a blood and urine sample, as well as a pap smear, from Reed Richards. As Tony brings the mutants up to speed with the situation, he notices Jean Grey and has an idea, calling for Chang to get a Cerebro. He then outlines the plan to the X-Men. Since Kitty Pryde can disrupt machines by phasing through them, she can theoretically do the same to Galactus' device.

Richards injects her with an enhanced version of the late Hank Pym's growth serum, which is also enhanced with some Stark biotech (there's also some mention of a bio-stress suit, although Kitty still seems to be wearing the same outfit), so she can deal with the stress of phasing through such a large machine. Tony adds that she can also give Galactus a smack if she likes. A naturally concerned Storm asks if Kitty will survive the procedure. Richards replies that it's hard to say, but she probably won't, with Stark adding that they all know they're asking a lot. After a moments consideration, Kitty agrees, taking the opportunity to hug Storm.

While this has been going on, Chang has retrieved the Cerebro, which Tony then instructs Jean to use in order to enhance (what's with all the talk of "enhancement" all of a sudden?) her psychic abilities to use on Galactus. She soon gains access to his mind, reporting that he's hungry and desperate, unsure of whether he has the strength to finish his machine or what universe he's in, with no clue of how he got here in the first place or if he can even get back to his own reality. Unfortunately, Galactus senses her presence and doesn't take kindly to someone rooting around in his head, temporarily ceasing his building work and turning towards the Helicarrier.

Thor and several S.H.I.E.L.D fighters head out to distract the God of Oblivion (yes, that is an actual alias for Galactus), although he soon grabs hold of the thunder god and hurls him away like a pebble, straight through the Chrysler Building. Galactus advances on the Helicarrier, bellowing the words "I HUNGER!" (Wow, I never would have guessed that). With Director Chang ordering everyone to their battle stations, Cap asks Tony how much time they need. Neither he or Richards are sure, but Cap heads out in a jet to face Galactus regardless. Storm follows in order to assist the captain, conjuring up a tornado over Galactus, but the Helicarrier is caught up in the gale and is struck by the giants hand, causing it to go into a crash landing. As Galactus reaches forward to crush the ship, Cap flies in and seemingly sacrifices himself by crashing the jet into Galactus' mouth, trying to escape before it's destruction. With no way of stopping, the Helicarrier crashes into the ground with the rest of the heroes still inside. Galactus turns his attention back to his machine, once again uttering "I HUNGER"...

Thoughts:

If I could sum this issue up in a word, it would be rushed. The majority of this issue is exposition on how the Ultimates plan to stop Galactus with the help of Kitty Pryde, which wouldn't be too bad except that the issue never slows down to really see how these characters are dealing with the choices they've been forced to make, as well as what they've already been through beforehand. I'm pleased that the X-Men have become involved with the main story, but introducing them into the equation this late in the game means that a lot of the focus is taken off the established characters and their plot-lines. Miles in particular, despite being on the cover of the issue, has pretty much been shunted to one side in favour of Kitty Pryde, and we don't even spend enough time with her. The rest of the X-Men, with the exception of Jean Grey and Storm, don't do anything except stand around and Reed Richards and Tony Stark are reduced to mostly dolling out exposition, with the occasional joke thrown in.

There are some positives to this issue however. It was good to finally get inside Galactus' head and see how confused he is with his current predicament. I also found the supposed death of Captain America effective, as while it was a typical sacrifice, it was done in a very sudden manner, with no time for him to say goodbye to his allies. It's possible that he made it out of the plane, but it's unlikely given that his appearance on the cover was initially kept hidden. Looks like the Ultimate Universe needs a new President.

Art wise, Mark Bagley's work is unfortunately weaker as well with plenty of rushed panels, though Galactus himself still looks awesome and well detailed, and there are some more refined looking points dotted throughout. The moment where Jean Grey holds Cerebro in shadow was a particularly arresting image. The colours by Jason Keith however are still great, the palette of this issue is the darkest and most bleak of the series by far, as the situation goes from desperate to bleak. Overall this is the weakest issue so far. It's a shame that the X-Men didn't join the battle in the previous issue, especially as they were on the cover for no reason. It makes that repeated scene in #3 even more pointless....

Score: 2.5/5.0

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