Monday, December 30, 2013

Scanned Thoughts: Cataclysm - The Ultimates' Last Stand #2

In every major comic book event or blockbuster movie, the world always seems to be on the brink of coming to an end. Earth is like that crazy drunk in a bar who fights every night, but in the context of events like Cataclysm: The Ultimates' Last Stand he might as well be picking fights with an army of ninjas and Chuck Norris clones. The guy is asking for it because Ultimate has already distinguished itself as that sandbox all the retarded kids shit in because the powers that be thought it would be a good idea to just let stupid ideas run wild in this once awesome comic book series. Now Cataclysm is like that same drunk trying to flirt dry hump the President's daughter. It has finally gone too far and now Galactus has arrived to put Ultimate Earth out of its misery. Cataclysm: the Ultimates' Last Stand #1 brought Galactus to Ultimate Earth and pretty much everyone was more overmatched than a squirrel fighting a hungry wolf. Now in Cataclysm: The Ultimates' Last Stand #2 they have to make sense of it before Galactus destroys more than New Jersey. Because if they could limit the destruction to permanently destroying memories of every season of the Jersey Shore, I think that would count as a win.

This whole event reeks of disaster porn, but at least there has been a concerted effort made to give it a personal touch. And since Brian Michael Bendis is the one piloting this crashing jet, it makes sense that Miles Morales would provide that touch. Like the previous issue, he provides the insight and the point of view. But unlike the previous issue, he puts himself in a position to make some ridiculously stupid decisions, like swinging from a helicopter to attack Galactus. He might as well be a flea trying to take down Mount Rushmore. The rest of Ultimate Earth's mightiest heroes are tempted to join his foolishness, but Iron Man urges them to stand down. Being the one of the few smart guys who hasn't lost his fucking mind, he encourages SHIELD to stop annoying Galactus so they can come up with a smarter plan. I don't know how much smarter it can be against a force like Galacuts, but at least it shows they're smarter than fleas.

The only one who doesn't seem to get the message is Miles, foolishly rides the helicopter all the way to Galactus's head. He doesn't do much damage in the same way spitting in the ocean doesn't cause flooding outside Al Gore's head. It would be funny if it weren't so futile, but it's not pointless. It still adds that important personal touch that the Ultimate comics have been missing more than castrated bull misses his nuts. He's still the perspective of sorts through which the story is told. It doesn't make it any less futile.

He ends up having to be saved by Thor before Galactus casually flicks him off like a booger. He then meets up with the Ultimates and the Fantastic Four. But they don't exactly have an attack plan. They just know from Iron Man that shooting at it is about as effective as teaching calculus to a brain damaged cat. They're all pretty pissed that they just lost New Jersey and the possibility of a Clerks 3 movie. But they understand that it's probably a good idea to listen to the smart guy who makes the fancy suit of armor.

We then get a nice mix of action and narration, which is something else that the Ultimate Universe has been lacking more than a logical argument from Glenn Beck. While the Ultimates are busy saving as many civilians as they can from Galactus's rampage, Iron Man explains to them that they're not just dealing with some giant man who hated everywhere Snookie ever lived. They're dealing with something from another universe. He knows this because he was involved when Peter Parker from 616 crossed over with Ultimate in Spider-Men. It not only provides a logical connection to this story and Spider-Men, it ensures that he doesn't just pull this knowledge out of his ass like Bill O'Riley.

It's actually pretty detailed, which is something I haven't seen in an Ultimate comic since President Obama's approval rating was over 50 percent. He points out that Galactus has an energy signature similar to the one he detected when Peter Parker from 616 entered their world. From this information, he logically infers that Galactus came from the same universe as Peter Parker. It's so logical that a creationist would burst into tears. All the while, there's some awesome heroics going on in the background that makes it sound less like a quick lecture in alternate universe physics and more like an epic fucking battle.

Since they can't just shoot Galactus with bombs, they decide to look for more information. And once again, the story connects nicely with Spider-Men in that Iron Man and Monica Chang pay a visit to Quentin Beck from 616, who was stranded in Ultimate after the events of Spider-Men and thrown in prison. Seeing as how he was an asshole in both world's, it's hard to feel bad for him. But at the very least, he does identify Galactus and lets them know that the Reed Richards in his world saved them from Galactus. This pisses Iron Man off because Reed Richards in Ultimate is the kind of colossal douche who blows up Washington DC. I'm sure if he just blew up K-street and Congress, it wouldn't have been as bad. But he just had to go for overkill.

Now as nice as these connections are, it may be confusing for those who didn't read Spider-Men or don't know the circumstances surrounding it. Anyone who smoked too much weed may be like, "Whoa...Mysterio is in prison in the Ultimate Universe? My carpet looks like my ex-girlfriend's pubic hair? Green Bay isn't even Green?" It's one of the trade-offs with making these sorts of connections. Dumb-ass stoners or casual fans who ditched Ultimate after it started sucking elephant balls might be confused. However, I still think it's a trade-off worth making.

After getting some badly needed information from Mysterio, they decide they'll need to venture into 616 for help since this is their monster. They venture to a special site where the Ultimate version of Amadeus Cho, who looks like a Krillen rip-off from Dragonball Z, has been studying the portal that Mysterio used to enter Ultimate. It was bound to happen at some point. Ultimate is going to cross over with 616 again. Now there was a time when Marvel was dead set against ever crossing over the two universes. Joe Quesada himself once said if they did that, then they would be out of ideas. Well considering how badly Ultimate has sucked so much ass, I think those words were nothing short of prophetic. Now I could list all the ways a crossover story with Ultimate at this point would just shovel more shit on the shit pile. But I think the pile is so big at this point that it's pointless.

There's a big debate of sorts as to who gets to go to 616, a world that isn't in the process of being destroyed. Iron Man first makes the argument that he should go and it makes a pretty decent amount of sense, but they then logically argued that he needs to stay in Ultimate because he's their top egghead now. And they can't afford to lose him. Again, it's another instance of logic that would give Richard Dawkins a boner and make creationists cry. So then someone else has to go and Miles Morales volunteers.

This is hardly surprising. Again, it's Brian Michael Bendis who is writing this shit. And it's Miles who is providing the narration and perspective for this story. It makes sense that he should be the one to travel to another world to help save his own. Plus, Peter Parker already came to his world. It's only fair that he return the favor. It's the perfect plan. But in Ultimate, there's no such thing.

Before Miles can boldly spark yet another crossover in a world where so many are already sick to death of them, Ultimate Reed Richards shows up. Like I said earlier, he's a colossal douche in Ultimate, so much so that Thor hits him with his hammer the moment he shows up. Now that's not to say that Reed was always like this in Ultimate. The story of how he became said douche is a long, horribly written story that's right up there with Adam Sandler's last movie in terms of how bad it is. And for that reason, I'm okay that they're somewhat glossed over.

But Reed didn't just show up to become an even bigger douche. Sure, he blew up Washington DC. But he has a vested interest in Galactus not devouring the planet. He also points out that at the molecular level, he is still Reed Richards and he would be recognized as such in 616. So if he went there, he could access all of 616 Reed's hardware and intel. The rest of the Ultimates hate the idea of trusting him more than the Tea Party hates the idea of watching President Obama succeed. Again, the use of logic here is uncanny. That and they're kind of working on a time limit here with Galactus attempting to devour their world. Under these circumstances, they have to be willing to work with a colossal douche-bag.

So the Ultimates now have a plan. The only ones missing from the action are the X-men, or what's left of them. That's the fucked up thing about this event and Ultimate in general. There are no X-men. There are just a bunch of mutants basically going through the same stories we already read when Matt Fraction told them five years ago with his Utopia story. The difference here is that this version sucked much worse. For some reason, Ultimate Jean Grey is standing with them after mind-raping and trying to kill some of her friends. And for other reasons that make no fucking sense, they still act like they're X-men when they might as well be cos-players.

This is one part of the story where the logic breaks down. All these X-men wannabes do is just comment on how it looks like the world is about to end and nobody really gives a shit about mutants in the Ultimate universe. It's not wrong. But all they do is just stand around and look more deadpanned than a stoner at a 7-Elevan that just ran out of chips. I get that Marvel wants to involve every aspect of the Ultimate universe. This is just a piss poor way of doing it.

There's a good reason why I don't usually review Ultimate comics on this blog anymore. I hate having to grade them on a curve because Ultimate has been built on upon a foundation of soft, steaming pile of whale shit for the past four years. Grading Ultimate is like grading Paris Hilton's IQ test. That said, I'll still concede that Cataclysm: The Ultimates' Last Stand #2 was an improvement. But saying its an improvement is like saying the sewer water in India is cleaner. It's a shitty reference point so to speak. But what made this issue better than the first was that it took a step back from the flashy, end-of-the-world bullshit that we've seen in every Michael Bay movie ever made and added some personal touches. Some of it was random, like Ultimate Reed showing up and Ultimate Jean Grey being among the people she recently tried to murder and mind rape. But given how fucked up Ultimate is to begin with, I think it's too much to ask to be that refined. Like a pool with a big turd in the center, the best anyone can do is swim around it. I give Cataclysm: The Ultimates' Last Stand #2 a 8 out of 10. If this took place six years ago, it might be on the level of a young Jenna Jameson. Now it might as well be on the level of Liza Minelli. Nuff said!

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