Cataclysm: The Ultimates Last Stand #5

Posted by Donovan McComish 28 March 2014

Hello everybody and welcome to my review of the final instalment of Brian Michael Bendis & Mark Bagley's Cataclysm. So far we've seen the Coming of Galactus, New Jersey obliterated, a trip into the 616 universe, the reformation of Reed Richards, the death of President Steve Rogers aka Captain America and the destruction of the Tricarrier. Can the X-Men, the Ultimates & Spider-Man take down this titanic World Eater? Let's find out (unless you've read the solicitations for Ultimate Marvel NOW!, in which case you know that Galactus isn't going to win.).

Synopsis:

In the wreckage of the Tricarrier, Miles Morales gets to his feet, discarding his now-tattered mask and surveying the area. He spots a frightened-looking Kitty Pryde and heads over to her, asking if she's okay and introducing himself, receiving a hug from the young mutant. Reed Richards picks himself up off the ground and tells Kitty that the time is now. Kitty then grows to giant size using the late Hank Pym's growth formula, before breaking out of the wreckage (whilst acknowledging that she could have phased through it, and making her way towards Galactus.

As she gets closer and closer, Reed tells her through her earpiece not to think of the cosmic entity or his machine, but of the world, of the first person she kissed (that would be the late Peter Parker), the miracle of life, and the face of every person she has ever met. He urges her to save all that love, all that hope and future, as Kitty starts phasing through the machine and, just for good measure, socks Galactus right in the face.
As Miles sees to Tony Stark. Reed then grabs a case from the wreckage and opens it, revealing a black drone-like object. A newly-conscious and naturally concerned Sue Storm asks what he's doing, to which Reed responds that he's finishing the plan, revealing Kitty is serving as a distraction for Galactus. Reed activates and remotely pilots the device towards the battle, where Storm is attempting to assist her fellow X-Man. Pryde does her best to hold off Galactus,managing to get in another good punch to the head, but he starts to overpower and hurt her despite her phasing powers.

It's at that point that Reed detonates the device, a portal to the Negative Zone (or the N-Zone, I'm not sure), reasoning that since there is no life there, Galactus will eventually starve to death. Unfortunately, the portal is also pulling in Kitty in addition to Galactus. Unwilling to let Kitty die, Spider-Man and the Invisible Woman leap into action, with Sue using her force fields to fly them both towards their target, yelling at Kitty to shrink down to normal size. Galactus isn't going down without a fight however, and starts to claw his way towards Kitty. But fortunately for them, Thor arrives, good and pissed (Asgardian pissed), ploughing into Galactus with an almighty cry of "HAVE AT THEE"!

Seizing the opportunity, Sue hurls Miles forward in a sort of Fastball Special at Kitty, who Miles just manages to grab by the arm, before shooting a webline out to Sue as Thor strikes another thunderous blow against the Devourer of Worlds, pushing him fully into the portal, though he's rendered unconscious as a result. Reed attempts to close the portal, but Stark stops him and grabs the remote, wanting to give Thor a chance to get out. Reed argues that Thor knew what he was doing, saying they have to close the portal now. A clearly sad Tony reluctantly complies, handing the remote back to Reed, who seals the breach, stranding both Galactus and Thor in the Negative Zone.
As Miles comforts a freaked out Kitty, Storm finds Captain America's shield. Monica Chang is shown stumbling out of the wreckage of the Tricarrier with a few injured S.H.I.E.L.D agents, commenting that she's probably fired. As the X-Men and the Ultimates regroup, Reed apologises to Tony over his friends fate, saying that it wasn't the plan for Thor to sacrifice himself, but he may yet find his way back to them. He says that "if today proved anything...if we survived to fight another day...anything is possible..."

Thoughts:

So far, Cataclysm has been on a downward slump since #3, with the plot being increasingly rushed and the character's going in and out of focus. This issue is a slight improvement over the previous one in terms of spectacle, but it's still a disappointing end to this series. We still have the Survival One-Shot to come as an epilogue, but that doesn't exactly lessen the lack of impact this issue had upon me. Age of Ultron's conclusion wasn't perfect, but at least it showcased the fallout from the series to some degree. Here, the dust has barely settled before the issue concludes, meaning that there isn't much chance to see the payoff of the character work we've seen throughout this mini-series.

I'll start with some positives though. Considering, at least outside of Miles Morales' story, the Ultimate Universe is usually portrayed as a pretty bleak and empty place, all the talk of hope was very much appreciated, helping to end the series on a more optimistic note than you'd expect given the death and destruction that occurred here. It was also good to see that Reed Richards' reformation was genuine after all, rather than a ploy to gain more power. Richards' character arc was one of the high points of this comic and to see it pay off in the end was quite satisfying. It's also worth noting though that he still has a way to go until he properly resembles his mainstream counterpart, which makes things more realistic and gives him a goal to attain as he goes forward. You don't go from megalomaniac to mild-mannered scientist/adventurer in the span of an hour or two.

Now onto the problems. First and foremost, while he's certainly been stomping around looking menacing and destroying New Jersey, I never felt like this comic fully embraced the majesty of Galactus. Very often he came across as a gigantic, hulking monster rather than an ancient entity with considerable intelligence. While it was nice to get a peek into what was going on in his head through Jean Grey reading his mind, it's frustrating that Bendis doesn't expand on it, like commenting on how odd it is for Galactus facing other versions of Earth's heroes. Joshua Fialkov's Hunger was more successful in that respect. There Galactus had a voice, and an articulate one at that. Here his vocabulary is reduced to two words at the most. It downplays the threat of Galactus which, by extension makes the story less epic, and that's not what you'd expect to hear in a comic involving the Devourer of Worlds. I also found the way in which he was eventually dispatched to be rather predictable, as this isn't the first time Galactus has been sent to a version of the Negative Zone. The fact that it's called the Negative Zone here doesn't gel either as, in the Ultimate Universe, it's referred to as the N-Zone. Then again, it's official canon that there is just one actual Negative Zone in the Marvel Multiverse, so it's possible that Galactus was sent there and therefore it could be used as a way of bringing him back to his own universe, but the dialogue is just too vague to draw a definite conclusion.

Thor's sacrifice was also a drawback for me, as it came right out of nowhere. There was a small amount of emotional weight provided on the part of Tony Stark, but like Galactus, Thor hasn't really had a presence in this story apart from flying around and blasting stuff with lightening, which makes his "death" pretty weightless. It's also a bit disappointing that Miles' role has receded since #3, though he did get a cool moment by saving Kitty. I'd personally have liked a scene of Miles finding Ganke and letting him know that they've won to bookend the issue, since #1 opened with a scene between them.

Mark Bagley has been on a similar downwards spiral since he started on this series, with his art becoming more and more rushed with each instalment. This issue is still rushed in places, but overall it's an improvement over the previous one. There are some pretty eye-catching pages and the splash page where Kitty thinks of all the inhabitants of the Ultimate Universe was definitely the stand-out section of this book, although the closing page and Kitty punching Galactus were other highlights. Whereas the previous issues palette was a bleak tone of red and orange, this features lighter spots of colour throughout, representing the glimmer of hope the heroes are fighting for, which Andrew Hennessy renders brilliantly. While the issue as whole is way too rushed, with the ending being particularly abrupt, and the resolution of certain story threads are somewhat disappointing, Cataclysm has proved to be decent blockbuster fare, and though there's plenty that could have been improved, it's in no way as bad as Ultimatum which is a positive in my book, and with Ultimate Marvel NOW! incoming, it looks as though there's going to be some interesting stories to come out of this, even if the road getting there was rather bumpy...

Score: 3.0/5.0

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Comments

Welcome!


Spider-Man Reviews
features as many updates on the latest developments in Spider-Man comics as we can, along with reviews, commentary, news and discussion. Occasionally we try to throw in some game reviews as well.

We're in no way related to Marvel, but do recommend you read their comics.

Drop a comment anywhere you like on the blog, or join the discussion board. Enjoy!

Help us!

Looking for something?

Our Authors - past and present


Comic Reviews


Game News


Like Us? Then Like us!

Twitter?

Renew Your Vows

Follow by Email

FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed

Blog Archive

Followers