May 30, 2011
The event comic concludes with nothing having been achieved!
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. Before we recap what you've missed so far in "Ultimatum", let's talk for a second about continuity.
(Suddenly, the Continuity Alarm goes off, upsetting Linkara)
Linkara: (looking offscreen) You can't do that right now! It's the introduction!
(Shots of the "Ultimatum" series are shown)
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, the Continuity Alarm exists to stop me from rambling on about plot details and histories. The reason for that is that continuity with comic books, especially superhero comic books, can be quite a bit daunting. It's like watching a TV show, but only starting to watch at the season finale. If the show has established a ton of backstory throughout its run, the viewer is confused, and that's especially terrifying with comic books, where many characters have sixty-plus years of stories that have been told before. In the comic recommendations list I posted on my blog last month, I answered the question many people keep asking me: where do I start with comics? The answer is that there is honestly no one place to start reading. Seriously, your best bet is to go to a comic book store or a book store, find a title that looks interesting to you, and start reading. Most good comics explain their premise right on the first page, either in a brief blurb or revealed naturally in narrative captions as the heroes consider the current situation they're in. If they don't, then just read the story as it is and decide if you enjoyed it and want to keep on reading.
Linkara: Honestly, I love the fact that most mainstream superhero titles don't have a planned ("finger quotes") "ending" for their characters. I want to keep seeing where they will go, what's gonna happen in their lives, what sort of new problems they'll overcome.
(Cut to a shot of the cover for "One More Day")
Linkara (v/o): This is another reason why I hate "One More Day": it's backtracking. [Joe] Quesada says he prefers the stories he read as a kid, where Peter was involved with love triangles, forgetting that the character has moved on from that crap. We're past that chapter, and we want to see what's next, not go back to something he should have been passed by this point.
(Cut to shots of the covers of the "Ultimatum" series")
Linkara (v/o): But I can understand how that might be overwhelming for new readers and subsequently why I understand the initial appeal of the Ultimate Universe. It was created because it was believed that the mainstream Marvel Universe was simply too convoluted for most new readers, and they wanted to start a universe fresh for new readers and told from a modern perspective.
Linkara: The problem is that if you want to keep this universe in line with that directive, it's going to be harder to do so if the characters change and the events they experience have actual impact. The longer it goes, the harder it's going to be for new readers to get into it.
Linkara (v/o): Especially when you consider that the Ultimate Universe began in 2000. It's over ten years old now and hell, after "Ultimatum", they relaunched the line as "Ultimate Comics", but still kept the continuity of their universe. Yeah, after ten years, there's gonna be a few character changes throughout it. However, this explains something else: all the deaths! You see, according to an interview with Jeph Loeb, the original ending for "Ultimatum" was going to be a universe reboot; once again restart the titles from scratch, which would explain all the deaths... sort of. Apparently, the dead were supposed to remain dead, allowing the writers to explore ideas like "How would the X-Men start without Charles Xavier?". The plan was scrapped because they felt it'd be too difficult to figure out who was affected by what and to make plans and write histories accordingly.
Linkara: So, really, it comes down to laziness.
(Cut to a shot of the cover for the DC comic: "Crisis on Infinite Earths")
Linkara (v/o): The whole reboot thing reminds me of DC, actually. In 1985, they thought the amount of parallel worlds and fifty years of continuity were confusing, and rebooted the whole universe in "Crisis on Infinite Earths"... which only made things more confusing.
(Cut to shots of two more DC reboots: "Zero Hour" and "Infinite Crisis")
Linkara (v/o): And they tried again with "Zero Hour". And they tried again with "Infinite Crisis"... eh, sort of.
(Cut to more shots of "Ultimatum")
Linkara (v/o): In the end, this generation is actually the luckiest. They have the Internet, they have Wikipedia, and they have tons and tons of books and analyses capable of explaining storylines, who people are, and their relationships with to one another. This issue is not a real problem anymore. Just tell good stories and the rest will attend to itself. And if comic companies really feel they need to reboot everything, at least have all your pieces together and know exactly what has happened to characters or not. Don't be lazy; think of it as a challenge and that you are the architect of an entire new universe. Be creators, not destroyers. Unlike "Ultimatum", which does nothing but destroy. Oh, yes, we're supposed to be talking about that piece of crap, aren't we?
(Shots of Linkara's review of issues 3 and 4 of "Ultimatum" are shown)
Linkara (v/o): Magneto killed lots of people because Doctor Doom wanted to take over the world and was a moron. The remaining groups of superheroes banded together and are now confronting him.
Linkara: So let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Ultimatum #5" and finally put this thing to rest.
(AT4W title sequence plays; title card has "Ironic" by Alanis Morissette playing in the background; cut to the first page of the comic)
Linkara (v/o): We open to–
Linkara: Actually, wait a second! We're not starting yet. Something's been bugging me ever since this whole thing started: THE NAME.
(Cut to shots of the series' covers, all bearing the name: "Ultimatum")
Linkara (v/o): Has anyone issued any kind of ultimatum? Hell, no one has even made any demands of any kind. It's not like Magneto has said, "Do this or die!" He's gonna kill everybody, and it's only because of Charles Xavier's mental powers that they discovered who was behind it all.
Linkara: So, really, even the title is a lie! It exists only because it's derived from "Ultimate", as in "Ultimate Universe", and that is just stupid. If you're gonna have an event comic, at least have the title make sense!
Linkara (v/o): We open to a snarling Wolverine with Magneto reflected in his claws.
Wolverine: All the other times we've fought, I guess I held back. Can't kill you if I'm not willing to die.
Linkara: (confused) You can't kill him unless you're willing to die?
(Cut to a clip of an episode of NewsRadio)
Bill McNeal (Phil Hartman): Your confusing thesis has captured my attention. Tell me more.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Wolverine is engaging Magneto in battle, slashing at him and ranting.
Wolverine: You've murdered millions of people. Humans. Mutants. Heroes. Villains. It made no difference to you. Friends. Charles Xavier.
Linkara (v/o): I think he's going kind of "stream of consciousness" there, since the "friends" bit should have been before him saying, "It makes no difference to you." Jean Grey detects that Wolverine definitely intends to kill him.
Linkara: (bored, monotone) No, stop, please don't, you have to be better than him. You have to bring him to justice.
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, yeah, I know I usually complain about heroes being killers, but honestly, with the enormity of Magneto's crimes, and that he possesses so much power, I'm not exactly gonna shed a tear if Wolverine guts him.
Wolverine: You think you're God? That you'll destroy the Earth and make it over in your image? I got news for you... if you're God-- then God is DEAD!
Linkara: (deadpan) That is one of the stupidest attempts at sounding badass that I've ever read. You're an idiot.
Linkara (v/o): Magneto knocks him away and then – get this – he opens Cyclops' visor and takes control of Iron Man's armor and has them fire their beams at him, while the others just kind of stand off in the background.
(Cut to a clip of the video game X-Men: The Arcade Game, showing Magneto ready to fight)
Magneto: I am Magneto, master of magnet!
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): First of all, while I have little doubt that Magneto could knock Iron Man around, I have a hard time believing that somehow gives him access to the technology of the armor to fire energy beams. Second, what the hell is Cyclops doing? Close your damn eyes, you idiot! Yeah, maybe he can open the visor, but unless Ultimate Cyclops works differently than regular universe Cyclops, he should be able to just shut his eyes and no worries. And wait a second, aren't Cyclops' eye beams just concussive blasts? Same thing goes for Iron Man; that's a repulsor ray, isn't it? Neither of these should actually do any real damage to Wolverine. They're force blasts! It's like getting punched really hard; they're not death rays! Hawkeye knocks off Cyclops' visor... A commenter also keenly pointed out that his bowstring is really thin and tiny. ...and we see that he can indeed close his eyes, so what the hell? Storm knocks out Iron Man instead of, you know, shooting Magneto with frickin' lightning bolts, and Wolverine starts to reform, having established previously in the Ultimate Universe that as long as one of Wolverine's cells survives, he can regenerate. That doesn't make a lot of sense in the grand scheme of things, but we'll forgive it for the moment. He stabs Magneto through the chest, who in turn uses another magnetic blast on him!
Kill Count: 10
(Cut to another clip of X-Men: The Arcade Game)
Magneto: I kill you, X-Chicken!
(Cut back to the comic)
Tony Stark: Omigod... He tore the adamantium off his skeleton...
Linkara: (as Tony) Now who's gonna go drinking with me on Sunday nights?
Linkara (v/o): And by the way, even if that was what happened... I mean, look at that; does that look like adamantium was ripped from his body? ...there's clearly still his hand poking out of Magneto's chest! HE SHOULD BE FINE! But no, this apparently completely fries Wolverine and kills him. Down in the engine room of Magneto's floating citadel, Colossus and the Hulk are smashing up everything. Aaaand why isn't the Hulk upstairs fighting Magneto? Well, I suppose the other heroes have got everything under control– (the shot of Magneto blasting Wolverine is shown again briefly) Oh... yeah... Mystique appears and starts shooting the two, but the blast just serves to piss them off. Sabretooh, having survived getting an arrow shot into his eye, grabs Mystique, and the two hang-glide out of there, just to compound the silliness of it all. Mystique also had time to set her gun on overload, and it blows up the engine area, though, surprisingly, both Hulk and Colossus survive. You'd think they would try to use that as an excuse to kill them. Back with Magneto, he has somehow crawled back to his throne room. For crying out loud, what the hell was the point of gathering all these superheroes together if they were all just gonna stand around and not do anything?! He pulls out the Wolverine hand in his chest, proclaiming that he'll eliminate every last cell of his, and apparently does so despite us clearly seeing his claws are still inside his hand and magnetism will not burn cells... Oh, whatever. Oh, and Nick Fury is there now. Yeah, remember him? Remember how he was the guy they needed to stop Magneto?
Nick: Every single one of you has a weakness. Something I keep as my ace in the hole in case you get out of hand.
Linkara: Well, since you're Samuel L. Jackson, I assume this ace in the hole involves a gun and/or saying "mofo" a lot.
Linkara (v/o): No, actually, first it requires Jean Grey, who comes in. I'm assuming Fury would have other psychics on hand if he ever needed to do this. And they take off Magneto's helmet. The three perform the Nick Fury mind-meld, and Magneto learns the origins of mutantkind in the Ultimate Universe.
Linkara: There were a few series that led up to "Ultimatum": "Ultimates 3", which we've already covered; "Ultimate Power", which explains the Doom and Nick Fury stuff; and then there's "Ultimate Origins".
Linkara (v/o): Now, I haven't read "Ultimate Origins" myself, but the Cliff Notes are here, as we see Nick Fury as a younger Samuel L. Jackson, with hair and everything. Get this: you know how mutants were created as an allegory for oppressed minorities, that it's equivalent to racism or homophobia or just anyone who's picked on for being different. Well, it's always been that mutants are supposed to be the next stage of human evolution. And we'll ignore the scientific errors of that idea, but the point is that that is not the case here. As it turns out, mutantkind was basically created in a laboratory decades ago by a mad scientist.
Linkara: Now, this is my own personal opinion here, and like I said, I haven't read "Ultimate Origins" myself, but I find that idea incredibly lame. I don't know, I suppose you still have the allegory of circumstances of birth and prejudice. But it doesn't feel right, because now they're victims of some guy instead of just being born different.
Linkara (v/o): But let's save any kind of discussion on that for the forums and the comments section, and instead look at more stupid. Magneto has essentially seen himself and mutantkind as the chosen of God... What, you expect crazy people to make sense? ...and this revelation shakes him to his core.
Magneto: What... What have I done...?
Jean: You shifted the magnetic poles. The Earth is off its axis.
Linkara: (angrily, but now also listlessly at having to repeat himself here for the umpteenth time) THOSE ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS! WORST SCIENTIST EVER!
Linkara (v/o): Magneto repairs the damage he's done... Oh, whatever! ...and Cyclops says they need to help him.
Cyclops: Just like Charles did for you all those years...
Magneto: Charles...? Charles will understand. Charles will forgive me...
Cyclops: Charles is dead. You killed him with your own hands. There's no one left to forgive you. And no one ever will.
Linkara (v/o): Aaaand Cyclops blows Magneto's head off.
(Cut to a clip of another episode of NewsRadio)
Jimmy James (Stephen Root): (to Matthew Brock, about his new mustache) What's the story with your face, son?
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): So, wait, if Cyclops was just gonna kill him, why did he even bother saying they wanted to help him? So they all leave as the citadel blows up, Wolverine's hand going down with it because... foreshadowing? Who knows?
Text in comic: Eight days later...
Linkara: Well, thanks for wasting an entire page on (holds up three fingers) three friggin' words at the bottom, when instead you could have given us a formal apology for this comic.
Linkara (v/o): Eight days later, instead of continuing the work of helping survivors and rebuilding the East Coast, instead we see a political rally calling for the extermination of mutants. Cyclops is speaking to the crowd, calling for peace... Yeah, speech will win them over... while in the Senate, they're apparently debating a bill that would force mutants to surrender themselves to the U.S. government, or they'll be hunted down and shot on sight. Wonderful. Oh, and then Cyclops gets assassinated.
Kill Count: 11
Linkara (v/o): The crowd goes nuts, everybody's panicking, blah, blah, blah... Yeah, he's dead; does anyone care anymore? Really? After so many have already died, did you think we'd give a damn at this point? In Latveria, Doctor Doom is lamenting how everything has gone down the crapper, but that he still has Namor as a prisoner. A cloaked figure enters.
Doctor Doom: How did you get in here?
Linkara: (dumbfounded) Through the door. (a shot of the comic panel showing the door appears in the corner) The door that's right there. See the door? He came in the door. (rolls eyes) Everybody in this comic is either crazy or stupid.
Linkara (v/o): Doom shoots at the cloaked figure, who is revealed to be the Thing. He says Reed told him what Doom had done and that this is all his fault. So the Thing walks up and crushes his head because Doom has to pay for what he's done. Yep, another body in the pile. I know I should probably be counting the villains in the kill count, but hey, at least killing evil people is a logical story event. We cut to Wundagore... Could this just end already?! ...that place where Wolverine once had sex with Magneto's wife. And it says something that that is what I have to say to remind you of what the hell it is.
Voice from off-panel: (holding a bullet) Cyclops has been assassinated. I pushed this through his brain. The same bullet they shot the Scarlet Witch with... I thought you'd appreciate the irony.
Linkara: And isn't it ironic, don't you think? (beat) No! I don't think so! It's not ironic at all! It's rather nonsensical, in fact.
Linkara (v/o): And who was it that assassinated Cyclops? GRANNY GOODNESS!!
(A shot of Granny Goodness (from the end of "Amazons Attack") is revealed, while a dramatic sting is heard; cut back to "Ultimatum")
Linkara (v/o): Nah, I'm kidding, it's Quicksilver! (dramatic sting starts to play again, but Linkara interrupts) Oh, stop that! I'm not doing the "dun-dun-DUUUUN" thing again. Why? Because you don't care. Nobody cares. Somehow, Quicksilver is still alive despite being shot. He's evil and talking to a woman in silhouette and is holding Magneto's helmet. He says that this was all Evil Silhouetted Woman's plan, that Magneto has grown soft, and that only with his apparent death would he do what's necessary... Oh, who friggin' cares?! Oh, and there's a dedication to Brian Bendis, Mark Millar, Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada at the bottom for starting the Ultimate Universe.
Linkara: (sarcastically) Yeah, you dedicated a book where you eradicate the Ultimate Universe in a mean-spirited, depressing, nonsensical and idiotic way to the people who created it! (laughs) That's a level of "moron" we don't get to see very often on the show. (becomes angry as he snaps book shut and holds it up) This comic sucks!
Linkara (v/o): When we began this little look at "Ultimatum", I was told that this was the Marvel equivalent of "Countdown", and I see why: good ideas in what is mired in nothing more than an ugly, ugly story. I still maintain that "Countdown" is worse, since that's 51 every week for an entire year versus five issues spread out over nine months. Yeah, the thing experienced heavy delays, and yet no one even tried to fix it with the added time. Smooth. It's really bad.
Linkara: And while I probably should set fire to it like the truly wretched on the show deserve, I think fire's too good for it. (points to comic) This is trash, and it deserves to go in the trash. (throws comic in trash can)
(End credits roll)
The unintentional tagline of this series is "Welcome to DIE!"
Soooo, what exactly did this miniseries ACCOMPLISH? I mean, what was the actual purpose of the story? When it was going to be a reboot, yeah, that makes sense as a purpose, but it [sic] its reason to be when that's taken out?
(Stinger: The Ninja-Style Dancer enters Linkara's room, wounded and exhausted, and falls to the floor)
Linkara: (coming out into the room, holding a piece of paper) Okay, what's next? (looks at paper, then becomes frustrated) "SCI-Spy"? (he then looks offscreen and becomes alarmed) NINJA-STYLE DANCER! (runs up to Dancer) Dude, are you okay?!
(The Dancer weakly holds up a piece of paper to Linkara, who takes it and reads it: "A PIECE OF THE WORLD IS MISSING"; he then turns the paper over to see another message: "ITS VOICE IS NOT ITS OWN")
Linkara: Look, just hang on, man! (goes into kitchen) Don't worry, I got this. (rummages through medicine cupboard) Hypospray, dermal regenerator... Okay.
(Suddenly, Linkara's phone goes off, to "Hide and Seek" by Imogen Heap; Linkara answers the phone)
90s Kid: (on phone) Dude! I can't believe what I just found...
(Meanwhile, the Dancer hears the buzzing sound again and the screen filling up with static; cut back to Linkara's chat with 90s Kid)
90s Kid: ...number four!
Linkara: 90s Kid, I really don't have time for this! Can we just do this another–
(Linkara looks around to find that the Ninja-Style Dancer is gone)
Linkara: (stunned) ...I'll call you back. (hangs up phone)