Take a stroll into the Ultimate Universe and see just what a prick Ultimate Reed Richards is in Avengers #41.
…And with Avengers #41, Jonathan Hickman takes the madness of the incursions up a notch. With the recent Secret Wars announcements and the knowledge that the Ultimate Universe will soon be imploding into the Battleworld madness, this story takes on a very intriguing level of depth. During Hickman’s run on The Ultimates, he established Reed Richards as being about the nastiest S.O.B. to ever draw air in the Ultimate Universe…and he was legitimately smarter than everyone else combined as well. These themes still exist in this issue and Hickman gives people who did not read that early run a look at what the man can do, and how incursions have been handled in the Ultimate Universe. Readers who are unfamiliar with the Ultimate side of things will get a nice intro with this one and there is tons here for long time Ultimate readers to enjoy as Hickman continues to spin a web of glorious madness that will be all encompassing when Secret Wars drops. The concept of all these universes colliding, and how this is going to get very messy very quickly, is front and center in this issue and Hickman delivers plot points masterfully in this one. His pacing is fantastic and the dialogue he writes in this issue is great. Much of the issue features Ultimate Reed talking to his A.I. “The City” but we do get a few moments with The Cabal, a group who does not plan on just waltzing off into the sunset as the heroes of the 616 would like. This makes for good comics as some of the most dangerous characters in all the Universes are primed and ready to stir the pot like it has never been stirred before. Battleworld is coming and this issue is one hell of a slow tease.
Mike Deodato delivers some of his stronger work since joining the Avengers rotation in this issue, though it still is not up to the levels readers saw in Original Sin or his work with Brian Michael Bendis in Dark Avengers/New Avengers. He handles the devious nature of Ultimate Reed well, his body language showing from the beginning that this is not the character we are used to, and his take on the Cabal is powerful and angry. These are not meek characters and Deodato makes sure that is obvious, and he succeeds with that group. He delivers a couple strong splash pages that capture the grand scope of this conflict well, and his pencils became stronger as the issue progressed. This is a grand story being told and Deodato has the chops to sell it, and compared to his previous work on this volume of Avengers, this is some rock solid art. I’d argue the writing is more powerful than the art here, but there is not a huge disparity between the two.
Avengers #41 has got a lot to like within its pages for fans of the Ultimate U and the 616. This really feels like an epic battle for the ages is coming and after reading this comic I am more excited for Secret Wars and Battleworld than I ever have been. Ring the bell, let’s get this fight started!
The Verdict: 8.0/10