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"Cataclysm: Ultimates' Last Stand" big on disaster, lean on story

Cataclysm: Ultimates' Last Stand
Cataclysm: Ultimates' Last StandMarvel Comics, Mark Bagley

The Marvel Universe's Galactus comes to try snacking on the Ultimate Universe in a story that has a lot of stuff going blooey, without much story on either end.

RECAP:

Miles Morales has a nice walk and talk about the role of super-heroes in society, when Galactus suddenly appears. Not only appears, but swiftly destroys New Jersey. The Ultimates (and three of the Fantastic Four) arrive, but they only manage to annoy him. Iron Man does a quick analysis and finds he's not even from this universe.

IM brings everyone to speed as they start evacuating; Galactus is from the "regular" Marvel U, and he's come over for some reason, to drain the Earth's energy dry. Thankfully, Mysterio is still in this version of the Marvel U (see "Spider-Men" miniseries), and he tells them they need to find Reed Richards. Everyone heads over to the dimensional portal from said miniseries, and Spider-Man and the Ultimate Reed Richards (who's a bad guy) volunteer to go through.

Ultimate Reed and Spidey manage to teleport in and sneak through the Baxter Building, luckily getting the files on Galactus. Unfortunately, Valeria Richards, 616's young daughter, wanders in, finds intruders, and calls robot security on them. Both barely escape back to the Ultimate Universe.

Back home, Reed and IM grab the X-Men for a plan; Kitty Pryde is going to be grown to giant-size with Giant Man's old tech, and then phase through Galactus' Newark-sized planet eating device. She probably won't survive. Out of curiosity, they grab Jean Grey and have her put on a Cerebro to try reading Galactus' thoughts...but he notices. Thor, Cap, and Storm go out to try stalling his attack; Thor gets through into the Empire State Building, Cap flies right into his mouth for no effect, and Storm gets blown away. The SHIELD Tricarrier goes down.

From the wreckage, the survivors gather themselves up, and Kitty's suit grows her giant. She rushes after Galactus, jumping through him and disrupting some of his equipment in a explosion that can be seen from space. Meanwhile, Reed Richards starts the real plan; a Negative Zone portal on a jetpack. It opens a huge hole in space and starts to suck Galactus and Kitty both in. Spidey and Invisible Woman go after Kitty to help out, and Galactus almost pulls her in with, but Thor flies in and smacks Galactus square in the chest. They both fall in as the portal closes and Kitty is saved.

From the wreckage, Richards apologizes for exiling Thor. Storm picks up Captain America's shield, Kitty cries on Spidey's shoulder.

REVIEW:

This is one of the oddest books I've reviewed. Largely because it's actually part of a much larger line-wide event. It starts with Spider-Man, the Ultimates and the Fantastic Four arrive, then the X-Men wander into everything. It's quasi-organic, since if Galactus eats the Earth, and the big purple guy blows up Newark.

There's a lot of action in this book. Like, Galactus blows up an entire state, Thor bounces off his chest, there's raging firestorms happening everywhere. Mark Bagley's art seems to lack finer details at the start, but maybe that's because he has huge debris and apocalyptic firestorms everywhere later on. To his credit, it's never hard to read and looks great; you would not want to be anywhere near this happenstance. Then when Kitty Pryde gets giant and tries slapping Big G around, everything looks to scale, and there's a two page splash of the stoic faces of everyone Reed is telling her will die if she fails. It's why he's one of the best.

I usually like everything Brian Michael Bendis writes, and this tale is supremely epic. Thor crackles with thunder, people make emotional compromises to survive, and there are sacrifices. No build-up, or making up pathos as to how deeply in trouble they are. Just BOOM, Galactus arrives and people die a lot. these people are affected, but the lack of emotional involvement takes away some of the pathos. It's all very impersonal. Everybody talks about the things going on in their lives (own series), but then they get distracted by a giant alien trying to eat the planet.

The way they deal with Galactus is a little simple too. Just get huge, slap him around and then throw him away into another dimension. Like, you had to go to the 616 Main Marvel Universe to just use super-science tech you had sitting around? It looked great, but you'd think there'd be a solution befitting a gigantic man who destroys an entire state just arriving.

Then it just ends. A few pages after Galactus is dealt with, Reed Richards mentions that they can probably survive anything now. A little box in the corner says "Next: SURVIVE." Like, this story has no build up or falling action. It's pure action. Guess I should've read the series that came before, but there's no "Previously On..." so whatever.

At the end, "Cataclysm" is a fun enough disaster tale, but it apparently is just a second act in some bigger story.