May 16, 2011
How come event comics never have accurate taglines? This one needs to be, "the one where everyone dies!"
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. Well, the wait is over! You people wanted "Ultimatum", so let's give you "Ultimatum"!
(Cut to a montage of shots of Marvel comics set in the Ultimate Universe)
Linkara (v/o): Before we begin, though, I of course have to go over a few things. Because I have the most bizarre timing imaginable, I keep releasing videos that are in relation to timely news or a movie that's coming out or something. In this case, it's the fact that there is an event going on in the Ultimate Universe, wherein the Peter Parker Spider-Man is dying and he will be replaced by someone else. The catch is that since this is the Ultimate Universe, it's very likely that this change is legitimate and possibly even permanent. The downside is that I don't really care. As I said in the "Ultimates 3" review, I don't care about the Ultimate Universe. I've read some of it and yeah, there are some quality stories, but nothing that made me want to keep reading. But the thing is, since I've read so many horrible event comics from stuff I do care about, I do relate and empathize with those who love the Ultimate Universe and the characters who were tossed aside in this crap. But hey, as someone who doesn't care about the Ultimate Universe, this should mean that Marvel should release a quality event. They need to convince me as a non-fan to get interested in this universe. After all, the best kind of event comics are the ones that, even though you've never read about the characters before, it makes you want to learn more about them.
Linkara: Then again, this is the event book that people keep telling me is the Marvel equivalent to "Countdown", so this is probably not going to be any fun.
Linkara (v/o): This is a follow-up to "Ultimates 3", which I reviewed over a year ago. You might want to check those again to refresh your memory on the events that transpired, though I'll give you a quick summation: the Scarlet Witch was involved in a creepy, incestuous affair with her brother, Quicksilver, and was killed by a bullet targeted specifically for her DNA by a jealous robot who then wanted to take over the world and replace everybody with robots, which somehow involves sending a clone of them to attack the Ultimates as well as releasing a sex tape, and then Magneto stole the Scarlet Witch's body, and Quicksilver was apparently injured and dying, and Magneto swore vengeance, and everyone just kind of left confused by the whole thing, and somehow Doctor Doom is responsible for it all.
Linkara: There you go! That should get you all caught up! Now let's dig into (holds up today's comics) "Ultimatum #1" and "#2".
(AT4W title sequence plays, followed by this episode's title card, which has "Timothy" by the Buoys playing in the background; cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): Since we're reading from a trade, we're not gonna look at the covers. Not that the covers were all that great, anyway, from what I can tell; basically, it's just a lot of standing around.
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): We open to the Baxter Building, home of the Fantastic Four, who, in this universe, are teenagers, at least according to the caption box. As such, it's kind of head-tilting, because when we cut inside the Baxter Building, Reed Richards is getting ready to propose to Sue. I don't know, maybe they're 19, but it still seems weird to call them teenagers if he's proposing to her. We see the Thing lifting weights and the Human Torch talking with his father in the kitchen.
Johnny Storm: How many times are we going to have this conversation, Dad?
Johnny's Father: As many times as it takes to get you off your duff and make something out of your life.
Linkara: He's the freaking Human Torch! What, is that not good enough for you, jackass?!
Linkara (v/o): Meanwhile, at Tony Stark's mansion, our favorite booze-guzzling hero is talking with Captain America.
Tony Stark: (Linkara speaks in a drunken tone for him, again, as he does throughout the comic) I wonder how practical it would be to take a bath in a martini.
Linkara: (as Tony) Who needs to swim in money when you could swim in liquor?
Linkara (v/o): Valkyrie and Thor are training.
Thor: Better. Verily, thy skills have improved tenfold, Valkyrie.
Valkyrie: You should see me in bed, Thor.
Linkara (v/o): UM, he has. You two were sleeping together in "Ultimates 3".
Valkyrie: Very verily.
Linkara: Okay, that line was funny.
Linkara (v/o): Down in the basement, Hank Pym is trying on the Yellowjacket costume that his robot duplicate was sporting in "Ultimates 3", thinking the technology in it is worth utilizing. Also, the ever-deluded Hawkeye is nearby, pointing out the plot hole in the Wasp letting him stay on the team since, you know, he tried to kill her with bug spray during the initial run of "The Ultimates". Meanwhile, Peter Parker is talking to Kitty Pryde of the X-Men, Gwen Stacy, Mary Jane Watson, and some bald guy I don't know. I don't know the full details here, but from what I understand, in the Ultimate Universe, Gwen Stacy was killed by Carnage, then cloned or something, utilizing Carnage, and there's a love triangle between Peter, M.J. and Kitty Pryde, and they all know Peter Parker is Spider-Man...
(Suddenly, the Continuity Alarm goes off)
Linkara: (looking off-screen) What, you're here?! I don't even remember bringing you over from the old place!
Continuity Alarm: I'M A PACKAGE DEAL. YOU REVIEW COMICS, YOU GET THE ALARM. (Linkara rolls his eyes)
Linkara (v/o): And then there's the X-Men, walking down the street in order to go to a baseball game. However, all of the setup that we just saw goes out the window when we suddenly see New York getting flooded! There's torrential rains, and clearly the ocean is overflowing, traveling through the streets rapidly in mere minutes. The Fantastic Four get hit first, with Sue and Reed trying to get to the roof, a whale crashing into the workout area where the Thing was, and Johnny Storm and his dad completely engulfed in water.
Thing: WHAT THE @#$% IS GOIN' ON?!
Linkara: Oh, I think we all know what's going on: The Ultimate Warrior decided he could fight the pounding of the ocean, and this is just the ocean fighting back!
Linkara (v/o): Tony Stark's mansion is easily flooded, forcing Hank Pym to grow giant-sized and search for his wife. Then we see Bruce Banner, drowning, become the Hulk. This is really confusing since I thought Bruce Banner was under lock and key because of the rampage he went on as the Hulk...
(Suddenly, the Continuity Alarm goes off again)
Linkara: (pointing at the alarm) Look, you do not exist to stop me from pointing out plot holes as a result of past continuity!
Linkara (v/o): Kitty phases through the roof of the subway to get Peter outside of it, telling him to go do his thing. He quickly changes into Spider-Man swings off. Underwater with the X-Men, we see Angel taking Dazzler and bringing her out of the water. However, she's already dead.
Linkara: And now, we begin the Kill Counter!
(To a ding, a starburst appears in the corner, with the words "KILL COUNT" appearing over it)
Linkara: A lot of people die in this happy little story, and it's all meaningless, pointless deaths. I'm going by Wikipedia for some of these, since it's explicitly stated in the story if they're dead, but let's start off the counter with Ultimate Dazzler, Beast and Nightcrawler. (the counter in the corner goes up to three)
Linkara (v/o): I mean, why would we want characters, who have fan bases and probably had their own storylines going on in the pages of the regular books they're featured in, to have grand deaths? You know, the kind where they're awesome and end up saving lots of people or dying like heroes? (laughing) That's just stupid! We want our characters to be completely superfluous and fluff for the story. What's that, voice that only I can hear? "But this creates an atmosphere where we have to be concerned for every character and wonder who could die next, and thus hold us in suspense?" (laughs) What a charming theory that is still idiotic! You still had to kill characters needlessly to create this purported atmosphere. Plus, it continues the idea that characters are simply disposable and we should never become emotionally invested in them or what happens to them, since at any point, the fickle writer will decide, "I'll kill them to evoke a sense of shock!" This attitude is and always shall be wasteful! And by the by, it's real classy to have a little graphic of an obituary and then having a list of names under "Who's Next?", implying that the whole thing is a big publicity stunt: who can die next, eh?! Anyway, Iron Man saves Captain America from drowning, and they can't tell where Thor, Hawkeye and Wasp are.
Iron Man: I don't know. It all happened so fast. So many... bodies...hard to tell where anyone is... Anyone...
Linkara: (as Iron Man, pointing offscreen) Oh, my God, that's my liquor distributor down there! NNNNOOOOOOOO!!
Linkara (v/o): On a rooftop, Sue believes that she can create a force field big enough to shove the water back, and she makes the attempt, which briefly turns her into Avengelyne with her spine. However, there's simply too much and she falls unconscious.
Thing: Hey, can you tell me what the hell is going on in twenty-five words or less?
Mr. Fantastic: I DON'T KNOW!
Thing: Ya did it in three. Didn't think ya had it in ya.
Linkara: Hey, another legitimately funny line! It almost distracted me from the widespread death and destruction!
Linkara (v/o): Sue is barely breathing, and Reed wants to get help, but then Thing tells him he thinks Johnny Storm and his father are dead, too.
Thing: Where you goin', Reed? Reed!
Linkara: (as Mr. Fantastic) I'm gonna go to OfficeMax! They've got to have something to save them!
Linkara (v/o): No, actually, he goes into the ocean to confront Namor, believing that the Atlantean is responsible for the tidal wave. They briefly fight, Namor saying that he didn't do it because he'd never knowingly put Sue in danger. Funny, because of the few Ultimate Universe comics I have read, I do recall one instance where you threatened New York with a tidal wave unless she made out with you. Anyway, who cares? Reed knocks him out and wonders out loud who really was responsible for it. We cut to Latveria, which is now encased in ice and snow, including all the people. Not sure how the hell that happened, given the explanation we're going to get, but still... Anyway, he [Doctor Doom] looks outside to see his entire nation has become the Other World from Silent Hill: Shattered Memories.
(Cut to the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching 12 To the Moon, showing a city starting to freeze over)
Mike: (waving dismissively) Aw, the weather wouldn't even phase the Midwest.
Tom Servo: Uh-uh.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Meanwhile... I've been saying that a lot in this comic, aren't I? ...Professor Xavier collapses at the School for the Gifted. Not sure why they're not flooded, considering how fast this thing is moving, though, then again, I know nothing about geography, so this could be miles away. He says he knows exactly what's happened and he sends out a psychic call to– OH, BULLCRAP!! It's a two-page spread that I have to turn on its side, but this is the worst offender I've ever seen. It's not even a full-body shot of the Professor. IT'S HIS HEAD! The panels featuring all the other heroes' heads are absolutely tiny! I can fit all this on one page, no problem. This is just so damn lazy, I can't even begin to believe it!
Linkara: I don't care if people think I'm whining about this pet peeve or not. This is atrociously wasteful when you could have put in character development or... ANYTHING on this extra page!
Linkara (v/o): (groans) Anyway, Xavier says he knows who's responsible and that despite any past differences they've had, they need to join forces. Otherwise, he'll kill them all. And so, our comic ends with of the one responsible: MAGNETO! (a dramatic sting is heard) Oh, also, he's still in possession of Thor's hammer from "Ultimates 3", but I call bullcrap on that. Even if the hammer was made from a metal that's magnetic or can be magnetized, I think mystical enchantments about who is actually worthy of lifting the thing would take precedence. Then again, I'm a nerd who thinks about these things, so what do I know?
Text: NEXT: IT GETS WORSE...
Linkara: I certainly hope so. People have billed this as being as bad as "Countdown". The first issue wasn't all that great, but the situation was set up, and it actually feels like something big just went down. On to the second issue...
Linkara (v/o): This one begins with the tidal wave over and Spider-Man trying to rescue someone under a car. Naturally, since even Spidey needs some levity in order to not be crushed by the horror of this all, he's doing some joking.
Spider-Man: Why does all the really scary stuff have to happen at night? I mean, it's not bad enough that half this city was underwater one second and-- then the next second it's not... or that all this death and destruction caused* by the world's biggest dirtbag-- MAGNETO.
- NOTE: Spidey says "was caused", not just "caused".
Accident victim: Please stop talking and help me.
Linkara: Geez, even in the Ultimate Universe, civilians are assholes.
Linkara (v/o): Also in the area are several individuals who are using Hank Pym's growth technology from the previous Ultimate books. They don't hear Spidey calling for help, but fortunately, the Hulk is nearby.
Hulk: Hulk help Spider-Man.
Linkara: (as Hulk) Then Hulk (brings down hand hard) SMASH Spider-Man! (beat) It kind of funny like that.
Linkara (v/o): We cut to the Triskelion, the headquarters for S.H.I.E.L.D. in the Ultimate Universe, where Iron Man is bursting in carrying Captain America. Wait a second, he was fine in the last issue! Why is he– Oh, son of a... Is this one of those crossover events, where important things happen in other books, and they never bother to tell us what it was?!
Linkara: You know, at least "Amazons Attack" had the decency to fill in the blanks. Thanks for leaving out important plot details! Yeah, now it's starting to look like "Countdown".
Linkara (v/o): So now we meet Ultimate Carol Danvers and– YOWZA! Okay, one, why are your hips swaying? Two, even for ridiculous proportions for superheroines, those breasts are ridiculously and unnecessarily huge! I don't get this. If it's fan service, she's wearing a full body uniform. Plus, we really don't want to see fan service after millions of people are dead! If it's just that the artist just naturally drew her like that... fine, whatever, but why are her hips swaying?! Anyway, she gets a medical unit to help Captain America from being injured by... uh... off-panel-itis. Oh, wait, according to Iron Man, he woke up fine in the air and then just collapsed. Oh, goody, so apparently, you can be perfectly lucid after almost drowning and then just start dying for no reason. Brilliant. Anyway, Iron Man says he needs to go find some booze– I mean, uh, get ready to go after Magneto, but then the base falls under attack. Meanwhile, Hawkeye catches up with Hank Pym, who's still desperately searching for the Wasp. Hawkeye starts climbing up him before Pym grabs him. Hawkeye says he wants to help, saying that even though he doesn't like Pym, he also knows what it's like to lose the woman you love.
Linkara: Wow! Legitimate character development and emotions! How nicely contrasted against the horrifyingly awful way in which this subplot will end. (scowls)
Linkara (v/o): Meanwhile, the Thing is beside Sue's bed, talking to her unconscious form, when Sue's power starts going haywire and he's knocked through a wall and almost out of a window. Meanwhile, Reed is speeding along in his boat.
Mr. Fantastic: I don't care that Charles Xavier appeared in my head and said that this was all Magneto's fault. A tidal wave drowned New York City, and you played a role in this, Namor. I know it!
Linkara: Wow, you're kind of a moron, aren't you, Reed?
Linkara (v/o): He keeps rambling a bit longer before he's suddenly tractor-beamed up to a ship above him, piloted by Doctor Doom.
Doctor Doom: Namor had nothing to do with this tidal wave or the icy devastation of every man, woman and child in Latveria. It was Magneto. He's offset the magnetic poles, creating this ecological nightmare.
Linkara: Ohh, boy, kids! I think it's time for SCIENCE!
Linkara (v/o): Now, once again, a lot of my information comes from my Twitter followers, who I presume to be much smarter than I am concerning the scientific stuff. And I don't want this episode to grind to a halt, so let me speed through this explanation as quickly as I can.
(Cut to an image of the Earth's magnetic poles)
Linkara (v/o): (speaking slightly quickly) The Earth's magnetic poles are constantly moving, some say around 40 kilometers per year, actually, so we know that the poles can shift and in fact have likely shifted several times already.
(Cut to a shot of the pole shift)
Linkara (v/o): The actual effects of the pole shift, however, are negligible. The worst that could potentially happen is the weakening of Earth's magnetic field.
(Cut to a shot of the website Discover, set on an article about how pole shifts would not cause global superstorms)
Linkara (v/o): But it would return to normal eventually, and one article that I read said that even that probably wouldn't hurt that much either. In fact, the only real effects of a sudden pole shift...
(Cut to an image of a compass)
Linkara (v/o): ...are reverse compasses and screw animals that have an internal sense of direction.
(Cut to an image of the solar system, showing the Earth in both spring and neap tides)
Linkara (v/o): The tides have nothing to do with the magnetic field. Primarily, they're affected by the gravity of the moon, which Magneto has no power to control, but even if he did have that...
(Cut to an image of a man surfing a tidal wave)
Linkara (v/o): ...tidal waves are not a result of the moon, either. Yeah, that one kind of confused me. In fact, tidal waves are...
(Cut to a shot of the map of the Earth, with all of its plate tectonics displayed)
Linkara (v/o): ...the result of plate tectonics, and in particular, earthquakes! Now, some speculated that anything powerful enough to drastically the magnetic poles would probably do a number on plate tectonics.
(Cut back to Magneto)
Linkara (v/o): But Magneto's powers have always been based only in magnetism and NOT ANYTHING ELSE!
Linkara: "But wait!" people are asking. "This is comic books. Surely, suspension of disbelief should kick in for this sort of thing, right?" (scowls) NO, DAMN IT!
Linkara (v/o): Suspension of disbelief allows me to say, "Yes, this person has superpowers that allow him to create an ultra-magnetic field. It does not allow me to say, "That ability makes him magical and he can do whatever the hell he wants with that power, even if it doesn't make any sense!"
(Cut to an image of a man wearing a T-shirt with an image of a magnet on it with some nails stuck on it and accompanied by the phrase "F***in' Magnets! How do they work? Like this: F = q(v x B))
Linkara (v/o): Believe it or not, we do know how magnets work, insane clown posse.
(Cut to an image of a man and a woman, the former toting a gun, along with the message: "Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups")
Linkara (v/o): If I let this comic get away with this, all it will do is breed ignorance and stupidity and allow people to believe something that IS... NOT... TRUE!
(Cut to a shot of a cat with the phrase: "I sorree. I iz idiot.")
Linkara (v/o): Hell, I freely admit that I'm an idiot when it comes to science, but all I had to do was ask on Twitter...
(Cut to the phrase: "HOW to ask Effective Questions on Twitter?")
Linkara (v/o): ...how does this work and would this idea work this way, and I got pointed in the direction of science articles.
Linkara: It breeds laziness in writers, who can simply (mockingly) make up powers and abilities whenever it's convenient for them. But you know what the worst part is? I CAN FIX THIS RIGHT NOW!
Doctor Doom: Magneto kidnapped a Latverian scientist who was building an earthquake machine.
Linkara: (snaps fingers) BAM! There you go, it was that easy! Earthquake machines aren't exactly scientifically plausible, either, but still more so than "Magnets affect the tides"! And how the hell did he freeze Latveria anyway?
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, in case you actually cared about the comic – trust me, you shouldn't – Doctor Doom says that the man they need is Nick Fury.
TIME 4 BACKSTORY
(Cut to shots of another Marvel miniseries, "Ultimate Power")
Linkara (v/o): In another little miniseries, "Ultimate Power", Nick Fury – and if you ever wondered why Nick Fury in the movies is played by Samuel L. Jackson, here's your answer – kind of went evil or something, and as punishment, they left him stranded in a parallel universe. Oh, and trust me, we'll get the full story there eventually. I'll review "Ultimate Power", if only for the artwork of Greg Land, whose style is best known as "How many times can I trace the same image from a porno magazine?"
(Cut back to "Ultimatum")
Linkara (v/o): As such, this is a follow-up to that. Doom has brought along Zarda, a superheroine from that other universe who can reopen the portal and get him. Why they need Nick Fury isn't explained. I'm guessing so he can go up to Magneto and yell...
(Cut to a clip of Pulp Fiction)
Jules Winfield (Samuel L. Jackson): (to Pumpkin, quoting "Ezekiel 25:17") And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know My name is the Lord (aims his gun at Pumpkin) when I lay My vengeance upon thee.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Thor, meanwhile, rides on Valkyrie's Pegasus in search of his love and finds her dead at the base of the Statue of Liberty.
Kill Count: 4
Linkara (v/o): However, Thor isn't taking this kind of crap, so he slams his sword into the ground, which makes him travel to Valhalla and... (sighs) a two-page spread that I have to turn on its side.
Linkara: And... (rolls eyes) I have to be honest here: this one actually kind of works.
Linkara (v/o): The reason why I like this one more than any other I've encountered is because Thor is now confronted by Hela, Mistress of the Dead. Hela is portrayed as being massively tall, and that's where I think two-page spreads on their side might actually work, demonstrating the sheer size of something in comparison to a figure in the foreground. It's a pity this one is ruined by Hela looking like Dominatrix Barbie and sporting a massive headgear that would make even Stryfe shake his head and say, "You're overdoing it, lady." Anyway, Thos has come to demand the soul of Valkyrie returned.
Hela: Pass my challenge to prove you are worthy of such a gift. Defeat my army of fallen warriors and you will be rewarded... for a price.
Thor: Agreed. For Valkryie!
(A heavy metal riff plays briefly)
Linkara: Whoa! Sorry about that, the comic suddenly got positively (makes a sign of the horns) METAL for a second there.
Linkara (v/o): And who should show up as Thor, god of thunder, fights an army of the dead? Captain America! Yeah, I don't know how he's dead, either, and neither does he, but who the hell cares?! It's Captain America and Thor fighting an army of the dead so they can reclaim of Thor's lover and partner in ass-kicking! This is fricking awesome! This is fantastic! This is just a brilliant concept, and I don't know how this comic gets such a bad rap with–
(Cut to a clip of Monty Python's Flying Circus)
John Cleese: And now for something completely different.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): We cut back to Hawkeye and Hank Pym searching for the Wasp, and Hawkeye sees something. He decides to go check it out and...
(Cut to "Ultimates 3", showing something that Linkara describes below...)
Linkara (v/o): Well, remember how in "Ultimates 3", the Blob said to the Wasp that he would eat her up? Yeah. Seriously.
(Back to the current comic)
Linkara (v/o): This is the Blob cannibalistically eating the Wasp.
Kill Count: 5
(Linkara sits there in silence, looking quite disgusted)
Linkara: (snaps comic shut and holds it up angrily) THESE COMIC SUCK!! Yeah, I know I'm early and there are still three pages left in the issue, but I don't think we can ever quite recover from something as horrible as that! I mean, what the hell, Marvel?!?
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, our comic truly ends with Magneto suddenly showing up at Xavier's academy. (mock whiny voice) He says that the death of his kids opened his eyes to the truth, that humanity sucks, and it's done nothing in the last few thousand years but destroy the planet. (irritably) And oh, go whine on your blog, you psychopathic asshole! I'm sure poets, artists and inventors "only sought to destroy the planet in the last few millennia"! Nimrod! Oh, and when Xavier compares him to Hitler, Magneto snaps Xavier's neck. Brilliantly done, Loeb! You screwed up the entire relationship between these two foes and former friends so you could add one more body to the count.
Kill Count: 6
Linkara (v/o): And we've still got three more issues of crap to get through, people. Tune in next week when "Utlimatum" unfortunately continues. (scowls)
(End credits roll)
"Say, how do we convince people that comic books AREN'T the works of adolescently-minded dorks who don't understand what "mature" means? I know, CANNIBALISM!"
So Ultimate Warrior's Workout and then Ultimatum. Yeah, I really should have called this "Ultimate Month."
Although, considering both comics are complete FAIL, then calling this month "ultimate" is a bit of a misnomer.
(Stinger: The Ninja-Style Dancer crawls along the floor of a room, then gets up and looks around. He hears a strange buzzing sound, the same one as from earlier, as happening a lot in the last few weeks. The Dancer throws down a smoke bomb, which causes smoke to rise, and he escapes, as the screen fills up with static and creepy laughter is heard)