I know I’m a little behind on this one, but I thought what better for my first post than the beginning… er… new beginning of the Ultimate Marvel Universe.

Ultimate Fallout begins almost immediately following the events in the Death of Spider-Man storyline that took place in Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate Avengers vs. New Ultimates.  The mini-series gives just enough history to clue new readers in on the 300+ issues of continuity that led up to this point, without being overly detailed for those who have been here all along.  It ties up the previous chapter of the Ultimate Marvel Universe quite nicely, while simultaneously priming fans for the forthcoming volume.  It is a great jumping on point for anyone ready to begin reading Ultimate Marvel stories.

The series’ first issue begins with many characters’ reactions to the death of Peter Parker, including many wonderful little moments showing how he touched so many lives as the teenage hero, Spider-Man.  One particularly touching scene takes place between Aunt May and a young girl in the masses outside the church for Peter’s funeral.  Writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mark Bagley, the original and longest running creative team for Ultimate Spider-Man, do a fantastic job in this issue and seemingly miss no one when it comes to showing how all the major characters in the Ultimate Marvel Universe deal with Peter’s death in their own individual ways.  J. Jonah Jameson tries to put his feelings down in words, Kitty Pryde takes her frustration and sadness out on some would be thieves, and Mary Jane tries to gather evidence on who she thinks is responsible.  The issue ends with one of the most prominent characters in the universe confessing to Aunt May that he feels responsible for her nephew’s death.

It only picks up from there.  Though little on action, the series more than makes up for it in plot and setup for what is to come.  In the earlier issues, we’re treated to some more mourning from some of the universe’s more periphery characters, which indicates to me that they may have a larger role in the Ultimate Marvel stories that follow Fallout.  We also see Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man, in some backroom dealings that involved his brother before him, which could have big consequences for his future as a hero.  As always, Nick Fury, leader of S.H.I.E.L.D., is lurking just behind the scenes with everything, including an effort to re-purpose a major player from the Ultimates’ past.

The real gem of this mini-series is the fourth issue, which introduces the audience to the person that steps up to fill the red and blue tights as the new Ultimate Spider-Man.  This is definitely one of the more comical moments of the series, as it is quite obvious he is still getting used to fighting super-powered villains, while still trying to retain the same trademark wit of his predecessor.  We aren’t given any backstory or even a name for this new character, but I’m sure that will come when the next Ultimate Spider-Man series debuts soon.  This issue also brings back another hero/villain (yes, you read that right) from the past, whose intentions are not yet made clear.  The final twist from this issue is the realization that a very big secret kept by the U.S. Government for a very long time is about to be made public, and it’s one that could shake the Ultimate Universe to the core.

The final two issues in this six-part mini-series are used as set up for what comes next in this universe, showing who is really pulling the strings, and giving just a hint of what their intentions are.  We also find out who the members of the new X-Men team are going to be and where they are setting up their new base of operations, as well as which member of the Ultimates won’t be coming back to work.  The final pages of the series come back to what started it all when the audience is shown how Nick Fury feels about the death of Peter Parker.

Overall, I think Ultimate Fallout was done very well.  Much better than how the Ultimate Marvel Universe was treated following the devastating events of the Ultimatum story arc from a few years ago, which saw the deconstruction of two major superhero teams as well as the deaths of many important characters.  Not to mention massive destruction all over the world, with very little focus on the aftermath and implications of such an event.  Fallout goes completely in the opposite direction.  As I said previously, it’s a great bridge between what has come before and what is yet to come with this still very young version of Marvel’s heroes.  I really like that all of the writers (or “architects” as Marvel refers to them), are the ones that are going to be writing the comics in the Ultimate series that follow, Bendis on the new Ultimate Spider-Man, Jonathan Hickman on the new Ultimates and Ultimate Hawkeye, and Nick Spencer on the new Ultimate X-Men series.  I think it’s a great way to introduce readers to the style of these writers and get a feel for how they write these characters in small doses before they’re completely immersed in it with the four upcoming series, which I am very much looking forward too.

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