Ultimate Invasion has thus far been a disappointment. It’s a rare miss in Jonathan Hickman’s extensive Marvel catalog of work. The Maker’s plot to create a universe in his own vision is an intriguing concept. That intriguing concept ended up falling flat in the second issue that just dragged. Even with the battle of the Ultimates clones did nothing to get into the story unfolding in The Maker’s new Marvel Universe. That is something that is hopefully rectified in the third chapter of this story. Let’s find out with Ultimate Invasion #3.
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Bryan Hitch
Inker: Andrew Currie
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
During and after Obadiah Stane’s funeral Howard Stark reflects on everything he has been through the last few days in Latvaria. When he asks for Tony Stark’s opinion his son answers by telling Howard he should fight and defeat The Maker.
This in turn has Howard remember his experience in The Maker’s City within Latveria the last few days.
Two days ago, after meeting with The Maker, Howard is surprised to see all the world leaders acting friendly with each other even though the Rasputins (Magik and Colossus) are in the room.
The Hulk reveals that there are no actual enemies in the room. Hulk goes on to say that The Maker has created a plan that after each generation ends one of the nations will assume the mantle of the “rogue state” other nations unite against. In the current cycle, the Rasputins have been selected. This has allowed them to focus their citizens’ attention on external threats rather than any failures with their territory.
Howard is left stunned by this. The Maker shows up and states that as one of the rich, brilliant, and powerful people of this world Howard is one of them. Deciding to go along with it Howard asks to be shown how this “real world” The Maker created works.
The next day The Maker leads Howard to where Howard will build the Immortus Engine for him. The Maker then introduces Howard to his assistant in this project: Reed Richards wearing a Doctor Doom helmet.
In the far future, an army of six thousand clones of the Ultimates asks their master how long they must wait to strike against The Maker. After giving a rousing speech Kang (wearing an Iron Man version of his iconic armor) states their time is now. End of issue.
Now this is more like it. Ultimate Invasion #3 is more of the type of comic book that is expected from Jonathan Hickman. This third issue does everything the second issue of Ultimate Invasion tried but actually does it successfully. It does cause the second issue to feel even more like a filler chapter. That filler error of the previous issue does not take away from the success reached by Ultimate Invasion #3.
Presentation matters so much with any story and Ultimate Invasion #3 provides an example of why. Hickman and Bryan Hitch give gravity to the state of the world The Maker has created through the characters who are in charge and the dialogue that is spoken. Hickman makes sure to strike a pragmatic approach that the leaders The Maker has assembled to have.
Is their approach correct or wrong? That question is made to not have a simple answer as the approach Hulk, Magik, and the others have is them speaking in a benevolent tone. That does not mean they are right to do this. But it does show how Hickman made sure to carefully craft the dialogue in the diplomat’s office so this tone is hit.
Having the Hulk deliver the message of the world order The Maker and they have all agreed to make this even more effective. Hulk is the last person you would think would calmly speak on The Maker’s “rogue state” framework the world leaders have agreed to. It’s communicated in a way that you at least understand why the rich and powerful would willingly agree to this plan to keep every generation under their control. It goes back to the concept of how it’s easy to focus the hate on one person or a group of people rather than a thing.
Making the communication hit as effectively as it does is how Howard Stark acts as a proxy for the reader when initially hearing what is really going on. Learning that Obadiah Stane kept this from his friend in order to protect him made it both hard to accept at first and easy to buy into by the end of the presentation. Howard, having already reached the rich and powerful level to be in the inner circle, has no other choice but to accept The Maker’s plan.
Which also makes Howard the biggest wild card in Ultimate Invasion. Because while he has decided to help The Maker in building Immortus Engine deep inside Howard is not fully bought it. This is why Tony Stark’s words are so important. Tony ends up being the voice of reason Howard was easily shaken by because he isn’t bought in fully. And with Howard serving such a key role in The Maker’s plan he could easily turn things against The Maker.
Because of how effective Ultimate Invasion #3 tells this part of the story it does make it disappointing that it’ll be wrapped up in the next issue. With this being a four-issue series the content of Ultimate Invasion’s second and third issues should have been combined. Because they basically tell the same angle of the story. And now we only have one issue left to wrap it all up. It would’ve been great to see a penultimate issue where Howard was showcased as this wild card character. But with so little time left that may not be reached.
This is also where The Maker making the Earth-6160 Reed Richards the Doctor Doom of this world not hit as hard. This reveal is an easily telegraphed act that is exactly what The Maker would do to Reed. There was no surprise with this reveal, even if Hitch tried with his one-page splash shot of Reed Richards wearing Doctor Doom’s helmet.
But the biggest concerning aspect of Ultimate Invasion #3 was in the epilogue. While Kang is certainly a character that makes for a great antagonist for The Maker it is a reveal that comes across as rushed. This final moment in Ultimate Invasion #3 comes across as Kang was forced into the story because of the MCU rather than a natural progression of the story. The Illuminati would’ve honestly been better to have this spot given how the story started.
Speaking of which, Hickman has done nothing with the teaser of The Maker wanting to use Miles Morales as part of his plan. Hickman emphasized this as one of the big sub-plots of Ultimate Invasion. But now that we only have one issue left there is no time to address Miles’ role in the story. This does make you question why Miles was given such a big emphasis when The Maker has done nothing with even the Earth-6160 version of the character. It’s a big drop-the-ball aspect of this story.
Ultimate Invasion #3 accomplishes everything the second issue tried and failed to do. We get the full idea behind the Earth-6160 continuity that The Maker has created and what is at stake. We even get an ending that sets up the big battle that will conclude this story. All that said, with only one issue left there is concern that it’ll be rushed given how much is left to wrap up the story. That includes aspects from the first issue that have not been addressed in these two middle chapters. We’ll have to wait and see with the final issue of Ultimate Invasion.
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10