Monday, August 10, 2009

You keep using that word. I do not think it means, what you think it means.
or "Ultimate" Marvel? Really??

Not that this is a new thought to ANYONE, by any stretch of the imagination, but it seems to me that MARVEL really doesn't know what the word "ULTIMATE" really means.

It's like the scenes from The Princess Bride (sorry, I never read the book - I only have the movie to reference here) where Vizzini keeps using the word; "Inconceivable", and Inigo Montoya finally replies; "You keep using that word. I do not think it means, what you think it means."

Such has been my state of thinking with pretty much ANYTHING from the Ultimate Marvel Universe.

I don't want to be one of those comic fans / readers / bloggers who does nothing but complain about what I'm reading.
Honestly, that's not me (usually).

More often than not, I'll be the one guy who LIKES the stuff that others think is crappy.
I've always been that way.

MAN-THING was / is one of my all-time favorite titles / characters!

The "B"-side of most old 45-rpm singles usually caught my interest far more than the hit release "A" side.
(Those who have never seen/played a 45-rpm single have NO idea what the hell I'm talking about here. Damn kids.)

Heck, when I was following sports (as a lad, in the 1970's,) I was a NY METS fan!
(even though I've long since given up on caring about sports, I always feel the pain when the METS choke midway thru the season... it's hard not to care about someone you once loved.)

So, please understand that when I loathe something, it's only because I can find NO redeeming qualities to it. NONE. NOONKA. NADA. ZERO. ZIP. ZILCH.

*NOTE: Some MAJOR SPOILERS are in this post for anyone who hasn't yet read the Ultimatum storyline or the first issue of
Ultimate FF. Requiem.
(lookin' at YOU "waiting for the trade" guys out there).
This is your ONLY warning.*

Such is my loathing for the ULTIMATE "Ultimatum" storyline and it's fallout.
(bear in mind I'm only referring to the STORY. The ART on most of those issues was some truly good stuff. I mean... the rendition of how the Blob was cannibalizing the Wasp was sublime. Dr. Strange's head popping like a zit? Exquisite. Louvre-worthy.)

However, as a Doctor Strange fan - which means that I even have to check in on the post death situation of "Ultimate" Dr. Strange (remember that part where I mention loving stuff that most people don't?) I felt that I should check in on the follow-up wrap-up events in the subsequent "Requiem" storylines.

Thus, I read Ultimate Fantastic Four ; Requiem # 1.

The issue is written by Joe Pokaski, pencilled by Robert Adkins, with inks by Marc Morales & colors by Guru FX.

Let me first state that the artwork & coloring on the issue is quite good. No problems there.
Now, I know nothing of Pokaski, and he might be an otherwise fine writer, as the majority of the issue seems fairly well penned... BUT... the major story beats can't possibly be all his doing, as the Ultimatum event was written and arranged by Jeph Loeb.

So, I can only feel it safe to guess that Loeb set up much of what I found objectionable in this issue that expounds upon the story of "Ultimate Dormammu" and the death of "Ultimate" Dr. Strange Jr, and just how Johnny (Human Torch) Storm found his way into a magic amulet around Dormammu's neck.

First up, how does Johnny GET to the Dark Dimension (or should it be "Ultimate Dark Dimension" - as anyone who read my write up on the events of Stephen Strange Jr's demise [HERE] knows, I brought up the question of how an alternate DIMENSIONAL entity could be affected by an alternate universe / Earth - shouldn't dimensions be beyond the physical plane of universes and earths? But I digress..)?

Turns out, that after the destructive tidal wave destroyed much of NYC, Johnny is screaming at the heavens (and, directing his speech at the physical Statue of Liberty in NY Harbor). Here's what happens next.

The Statue comes to life, speaks in an outragious French accent (that should come from a helmeted man atop a turreted castle - just before a cow is launched at invaders) and EATS the Human Torch, thus passing him through a dimensional portal to the Dark Dimension.

"I faart in your generaaal direction!
Your mozzer waz a hamster and your fazzer smelt of elderberries."

I can't believe anyone thought of that and didn't immediately dismiss it is lame.
After Ghostbusters II, I thought it was obvious that animating the Statue of Liberty is just a poor idea.

Here, Loeb (c'mon... it HAD to be his idea) has Pokaski write that Dormammu enchanted the statue in order to suck down powerful energies to funnel them into his home turf.
But, the statue isn't ambulatory. So, it had to either "eat" the energies in a manner like a bottom feeding fish - just waiting for things to make their way into it's mouth - or, like in this case, actually LAND on it and wait to be ingested.

To make matters worse, Dormammu's dialogue patterns are just poor attempts at... well... pretty much everything; braggadoccio, humor, evil snappy patter, spoken words, writing...etc...

Here's how he introduces the arrival of Johnny.

Dormammu makes a "Poop" joke!

How much better would a "Heeeeeeeere's Johnny!" have been?
(OK. He probably wouldn't know the reference(s), but still.)

Beyond that, a POOP joke?
And... he actually says "POOPED"!?!?
It's hard to take a demonic overlord seriously, when they won't even say a word as harsh as "Crap", as in; "Look what that power-constipated city just CRAPPED out!".
But instead, the man with the flaming head says "poop".
I'm suddenly filled with the urge to leave him on my neighbor's doorstep, ring the bell and run.

Now, I won't go into Johnny's situation too much.
Basically, the Human Torch is kept as a prisoner and Dormy is sucking down his energies like a smoothie.

When he's good and full, Dormammu says he has an appointment to see a Doctor (Yes... Strange. C'mon... he knows what a doctor's appointment is, but never saw Johnny Carson or "The Shining"? bah).

I won't show the replay of the death of Stephen Strange Jr. (really, it's just a minorly redrawn version found in my previous write-up [again...HERE]), but immediately after Strange is turned to human bean curd, the THING and Sue (Invisible Girl) Storm show up and proceed to

Actually, it isn't even the THING who does it. He's fighting the grunt demons.
Sue (with an assist from Johnny) snuff Dormammu like a candle in a jar.

One more time;
Sorcerer who is supposedly TRAINED for such an event (well... barely, but he IS a mystic hero fighting a mystic threat): Killed without effort.

Two "regularly powered" heroes: SNUFF. DORMAMMU.

And this is why guys like neilalien and I sigh a lot.
Our mantra is; "It's so hard at times to be a Dr. Strange fan", and it's shit like THIS that does it.

Yes, Ben. So much needless death. Most of it of former LEGENDS by hacks!

The only possible silver lining here is just who the hell is "Ultimate Dormammu" if he looks like a skinny angsty twenty-something when he's not all godly?

Another possible clue (although, it could just be bad-writing) is that as soon as Sue shows up and starts insulting Dormammu with snappy patter (y'know... before she wrecks him)... she does the invisible act and Dormammu seems to have no way to know where she is.

"Which way did she go, George? Which way did she go?"

And to top it off, Johnny just calls him "dude".

No mystical senses that allow him to be able to "see what is unseen" or sense her human taint.... nope. She might as well have stayed visible and just put her hands in front of her face like a toddler saying "You can't see me!" (which is supposedly the first magic trick a young-PTOR performed as a toddler. Thank you. Thank you very much).

The rest of the issue deals with other events in the lives of the U.F.F. and the Dormammu / punk isn't seen again.

However, I'd imagine that this isn't the last the Ultimate Universe has seen of him OR of Dr. Strange (as seen - yup... one more time... [HERE]).

I'm not sure if I should be happy or sad about that.


plok said...

Ye gods.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like what happened here is a problem I've noticed with several stories in the Ultimate universe. Some of the writers strive so much to be write "cool" and "modern" moments that the insert that element because they think it is cool even if it does not contribute to the overall plot of the story. They are then left with it hanging over them at the end and are running out of space so they do a forced resolution that makes no sense. Loeb probable inserted it for that reason and did not tie it up at during Ultimatium. So it had to be tied up in a single issue somewhere and Pokaski got stuck with both trying to explain Dormammu and coming up with a way to beat him so he is not and immediate threat with no sorcerer to keep him at bay all in one issue.

Loeb did this before in Ultimates 3. Millar had a similar incident at the end of Ultimates 2. Even Kirkman had something in his Apocalyse story on Ultimate X-Men.

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