Comic Book Review: Ultimate Power #4

Ultimate Power has been a fun mini-series. Bendis quickly hooked me on this title with his well written story. And then the inevitable Marvel delay struck. The last issue of Ultimate Power came out in December of 2006. Here it is three months later and we are finally getting Ultimate Power #4. That type of huge delay just serves to kill any momentum that this mini-series managed to generate after the first three issues.

We are also getting a switch at the writer position. J. Michael Straczynski is now handling the writing duties. That doesn’t bode well for the chance of me enjoying Ultimate Power #4. I used to love JMS’ writing, but I have really been unimpressed with his work over the past six months to a year on Amazing Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and Squadron Supreme. Maybe JMS will return to form and crank out a well done issue. Let’s do this review.

Creative Team
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Penciler: Greg Land
Inker: Jay Leisten

Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We start with Nick Fury stating that they will take the SHIELD helicarrier that will take the strike team to whoever can show them how to follow Reed into whichever dimensions the Squadron Supreme took him.

Spider-Man then points to Thor and asks him if his hammer, Mjolner, can take him anywhere he wants. Thor says yes including Asgard and Valhalla and the Nine Worlds. Spider-Man then tells Nick Fury that Thor could open up a dimensional portal and follow the Squadron Supreme and Reed.

All the assembled heroes are impressed that Spider-Man just showed up Nick Fury in coming up with a great plan. Nick stares at Spider-Man and says that once Thor opens up the portal then they use the helicarrier to take everyone to the other side. Spider-Man agrees. Nick then says then says that he was right to begin with. Spider-man agrees.

We shift to all the heroes assembled on the helicarrier. Thor uses Mjolner to open up a portal to the Squadron Supreme’s dimension. Thor and the hellicarier then fly into the portal.

We cut to the Squadron Supreme’s Earth. Hyperion is standing in space just outside the Earth’s atmosphere. Hyperion is using his super hearing to detect any unusual sound anywhere on Earth. We see Reed with Dr. Burbank trying to figure out a cure to plague that is destroying their Earth.

Reed states that the cellular structure of the spores is similar to the cellular structure of a spore he discovered on other extra-dimensional expeditions, but, it was a simple one-celled organism and biologically inert. Reed hypothesizes that as his probes passed through the inter-dimensional rift, the energies surrounding the probe interact somehow with the spores which hitchhiked onto the probe as it passed through them and sped up their evolutionary process once they arrive in the Squadron Supreme’s dimension.

So far tens of millions of people have died. Dr. Burbank states that he has always wondered what it must feel like to kill minions of people all at once. Dr. Burbank asks Reed what it feels like. Reed snaps on Dr. Burbank and grabs him. Dr. Burbank says “No touching” and triggers an electrical shock that leaps from his suit coat and shocks Reed.

Dr. Burbank then asks Reed how they can stop this mutated spore. Reed answers that he doesn’t know.

We cut to Thor and the helicarrier traveling through the inter-dimensional portal. Thor tells the helicarrier to prepare for arrival. We shift to Captain America (The Ultimate version is still alive and kicking.) asking Kitty Pryde if she has seen Nick Fury. That Nick isn’t responding to the page. Captain America tells Kitty to go find Nick.

We see Kitty going to a room where she last saw Nick Fury enter. Kitty phases just her face through the door and hears Nick having a discussion with an unknown person who is off panel. The unknown person asks if Reed still suspects nothing. Nick answers that Reed has no idea. That they are going to go get Reed and clean this up and get the hell out before any of this can bounce back on them.

Nick says that the important thing is that they make sure that Reed doesn’t get his hands on any of the probes. That Reed and his super genius would figure it out in two seconds. The off panel voice tells Nick to make sure that doesn’t happen. Nick responds that it won’t.

Nick then exits the room and bumps into Kitty. Kitty says that Captain America sent her to find him. Nick tells Kitty to come with him to the bridge. Kitty stares at the room as they walk away.

We cut to Power Princess approaching Hyperion outside of Earth’s atmosphere. Power Princess tells Hyperion to keep his eyes closed and listen to all the people below them on Earth. Power Princess asks Hyperion what he hears. Hyperion replies that he hears millions of people dying and asking the same question “Why?” Power Princess says that this is the question that the both of them have awaited. That now they can give the people the answer they have always known, but, needed to be told before they could truly understand it.

That all these people are dying because Hyperion could not protect them like he could and would if they would let him. Hyperion states that something in the entity that is attacking their Earth weakens his powers. That Hyperion can’t save everyone.

Power Princess replies that wouldn’t it be wise and right to save only those who will allow Hyperion to save them? Those who will let Hyperion do what is necessary to keep them safe. Those who listen to him. Who obey him. Who will love him like Power Princess loves him.

Suddenly, Hyperion opens his eyes and says that they are here and for Power Princess to alert the others. We cut to Thor and the helicarrier exiting the dimensional portal and arriving at the Squadron Supreme’s Earth. We see Hyperion flying straight for Thor in what appears to be the beginning of a clash of two Titans. End of issue.

The Good: Ultimate Power #4 was another solid read. I can’t believe that I actually enjoyed a JMS penned issue. It has been a long time since that happened. But, the fact is that JMS did a nice job with this issue and delivered an entertaining issue.

Ultimate Power #4 was a well plotted issue. JMS has a clear vision and direction for this story. JMS delivers this story at the proper pace. The issue moves at a nice steady pace as we witness the quiet just before the storm. Ultimate Power #4 was a necessary issue to give the reader more information on the probes and how they caused this cataclysmic event on the Squadron Supreme’s Earth. Plus, JMS laid the foundation for the next several issues that appear to have plenty of faced paced fighting in them.

JMS served up some well crafted dialogue. Each character has their own unique external voice. JMS did a great job with Nick Fury and Spider-Man in their scene in the beginning of this issue. JMS created some nice chemistry between the two characters and turned in some pretty funny banter between the two men. Given that JMS has been writing Amazing Spider-Man for quite some time, it is no surprise that JMS was able to write a nice Ultimate Spider-Man.

JMS delivered more strong dialogue in the excellent scene between Reed and Dr. Burbank. Again, JMS wrote Fantastic Four long enough that he has a good feel for Reed’s personality to write a nice Ultimate Reed Richards. Plus, JMS has always done a great job with Dr. Burbank’s character. Back when I was collecting JMS’s Squadron Supreme, I thought the only bright spot on that slow, preachy and PC title was JMS’s handling of Dr. Burbank. JMS developed Dr. Burbank into a wonderfully captivating character. And that continues in Ultimate Power #4 as we get treated with a delightfully twisted Dr. Burbank.

JMS also whipped up some great dialogue in the scene with Hyperion and Power Princess. I thought this was a very intriguing scene. Power Princess has always had some ulterior plan in mind for Hyperion. We have known for a while that Power Princess believes that Hyperion should be King of the Earth with Power Princess by his side as his Queen.

It appears that Power Princess believes that the events of Ultimate Power now presents the perfect time for her to try and manipulate Hyperion into making a move for power and control. This is an interesting plotline and it should be enjoyable seeing how the manipulative Power Princess is going to try and use the events in Ultimate Power for her own personal gain.

JMS certainly knows how to write both Hyperion and Power Princess. Both characters are well developed and interesting. I particularly love JMS’s Power Princess. That is my kind of woman.

JMS drops a huge bomb on reader with the revelation that Nick Fury and some mysterious person is actually behind the entire events of Ultimate Power. That Nick purposely tampered with Reed’s probes and caused this cataclysmic event on the Squadron Supreme’s Earth. This short scene triggered numerous questions in the mind of the reader. Who is the mysterious person Nick was reporting to? Why did Nick tamper with Reed’s probes? What was the desired purpose of this mysterious plan? And will Reed Richards find out the truth?

Nick Fury has been written as a much more enigmatic and untrustworthy character than the 616 Nick Fury. The 616 Nick Fury is generally a stand up guy and a war hero who tries to do the right thing. The Ultimate Universe Nick Fury is a slippery snake of a character with many different layers of conspiracies and secret agendas. Nothing is ever as it seems when the Ultimate Universe Nick Fury is involved.

Nick Fury has a strange role in the Ultimate Universe. Nick heads up SHIELD and also heads up the Ultimates. The members of the Ultimates view Nick as a team member. Captain America definitely has a good relationship with Nick. However, Spider-Man has had a rocky relationship with Nick. And the Fantastic Four have had a neutral at best relationship with Nick.

If Nick’s mysterious plan is discovered then it should present a huge rift with the Fantastic Four and Fury. It would also destroy the new “friendship” between Nick and Spider-Man that has happened in the recent issues of Ultimate Spider-Man.

JMS ends this issue with a nice hook ending as we see the two powerhouses in Thor and Hyperion on a collision course with each other. This should be an awesome brawl! This should get almost any reader excited for the next issue.

Of course, loyal followers of The Revolution know that I’m going to praise the artwork in Ultimate Power #4. I love Greg Land’s style of art and Jay Leisten does a good job inking Land’s pencils. Land delivers a lush and absolutely beautiful looking comic book. I love the rich detail of his art. And Land’s Thor looks incredible.

The Bad: No complaints at all with the

Overall: Ultimate Power #4 is proof that when JMS doesn’t try to climb on his soapbox and get all preachy and PC that he is very capable of cranking out a quality read. Ultimate Power continues to be an enjoyable mini-series. The reader gets treated to a nice blend of strong writing and excellent artwork. I certainly recommend giving this mini-series a try or at least picking up the trade paperback whenever it is released.