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Review: The Ultimates #7

Ultimates_007_cover_krSome of its figure work is less than stellar (Carol Davners looks like a Barbie Doll instead of the powerful leader she is depicted as by Kris Anka in Captain Marvel.), but artist Kenneth Rocafort has impeccable layout sense whether he’s drawing a secret underground prison or cosmic vistas. Ultimates continues to be Marvel’s smartest and densest team book as writer Al Ewing balances character interactions with high stakes moral conflict and Hickman-esque science fiction.

In Ultimates #7, the team is dealing with the fallout of the previous arc as the Blue Marvel, Ms America, and Black Panther debate on where to keep Anti-Man, an extremely powerful and insane friend turned enemy of Blue Marvel, and either to try him in American or international courts. This sounds a tiny bit boring, but Black Panther decides to put a third door on the table: capital punishment claiming his rights as king of Wakanda to get rid of a threat to his country and the multiverse. Of course, Blue Marvel is a moral man and decided to let the legal system deal with Anti-Man instead of giving into vengeance so he doesn’t like Black Panther’s idea. They don’t come to blows just yet, but Rocafort draws Blue Marvel with his fists out in a rage while Black Panther regally strides away. This exchange definitely connects to the authoritarian streak that T’challa is showing in the solo Black Panther comic and shows that this team isn’t immune from interpersonal conflict even though they mostly deal with problems, like the time stream being broken or the shift in Galactus’ status quo.

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And while this is going on, Ewing seeds in another plot that will be important in the Civil War II series as the Shi’ar leader M’Korr tells Captain Marvel that Cosmic Cube activity has been detected on Earth, and that he wants to investigate. (Ewing gives Carol a great one-liner about the Shi’ar’s obsession with red heads and the Phoenix force showing that despite the weighty subject matter, it still has its moments of comic relief.) Ewing connects this seemingly disparate plot to the Blue Marvel/Anti-Man subplot by making Blue Marvel’s daughter, Adrienne Brashear, the head of Project Pegasus, which is looking for alternative energy sources through Cosmic Cube shards, which have already caused a lot of problems in the Avengers Standoff crossover. This leads to yet another moral impasse with Carol seemingly being in the right after SHIELD used the Cosmic Cube to brainwash supervillains, but with Adrienne’s work being more important in the big picture of Earth’s survival.

Basically, Ultimates exists to critique decisions made in other Marvel titles while showing that its protagonists have moral shortcomings and vulnerabilities too. It comments on other comics and storylines while still retaining its unique identity as a superhero team that exists not to punch supervillains (Ms. America does like punching though.), but to solve complex scientific and even ethical problems in a more upfront manner than, say, the Illuminati during Bendis and Hickman’s Avengers runs.

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But Ewing and Rocafort don’t neglect the personal feelings of their characters in the vast tapestry of ideas, debates, and Thanos appearances. In Ultimates #7, they show the effect that seeing the ever shifting, fluid past and future timestream of the Marvel Universe (That isn’t actually real.) has on Carol Danvers as she tries to cope with this revelation while dealing with the earlier mentioned extraterrestrial emissaries and over eager scientists. Ewing and Rocafort don’t spend pages of Carol brooding and angsting, but just a simple two page scene of her chatting with  her friend Monica Rambeau (Who used to be Captain Marvel.) over coffee. Monica tries to cheer her up with jokes and coffee, but that isn’t going to cut it for now with her newly increased awareness. Rocafort and colorist Dan Brown illustrate her feelings in a single panel filled with possible Marvel futures, like Age of Ultron or Days of Future Past, filled with grey melancholy and fiery orange destruction as Carol doesn’t know where to start to protect and save the world.

Ultimates #7 has picturesque layouts from Kenneth Rocafort, cosmic and mundane colors from Dan Brown, and continues to ask the heroes of the Marvel Universe (and readers) the tough questions even though that process might be expedited with a power packed final sequence featuring Thanos tearing through Shi’ar soldiers that is eons better than those MCU end credits stingers.

Story: Al Ewing Art: Kenneth Rocafort Colors: Dan Brown
Story: 8.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy