Review: ULTIMATES #5



Written By Al Ewing
Art by Kenneth Rocafort & Dan Brown
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: March 23, 2016

Okay. There’s no way to discuss this issue without some spoiling, so here’s your warning!

America’s health is quickly declining, the strain of moving the Ultimates through the Omniverse taking its toll. As things begin to look bleak, the Lifebringer saves the crew and gives them a human-level lesson in just how little they understand the omniverse. Conner feels like something is up and goes on the offensive, while the Lifebringer instead quells him and the team, having a discussion with a grand cosmic entity before a familiar and threatening face re-enters the omniverse through a tear as Lifebringer re-enters the known omniverse.

There’s a lot to digest in this issue and its relation to the larger Marvel universe. It was a great examination of the nature of the omniverse, especially in the wake of Secret Wars, and the Lifebringer coalesces years of timelines into as simple an explanation he can give. I have my own interpretation, but regardless, it will be an essential chapter for readers who like the large scale issue of timelines and space.

Al Ewing shines in two particular areas. For one, as Lifebringer explains how time functions, Ewing conveys a grandiosity to the existence of space-time that leaves both the reader and the characters within the issue in awe. Later, the conversation between the Lifebringer and Eternity reveals that the scope of the omniverse is much bigger than even the power of the being previously known as the Devourer of Words. How Ewing condenses omniversal knowledge into a few pages of speech is similar to the Lifebringer relaying his knowledge to the Ultimates on a level they can understand; the magnitude of what he’s discussing is monumental, and there’s no way Marvel can just let those words exist in a single chapter of this series. Ewing gives us a lot to consider, enhancing the impact of this issue and the Ultimates series as a whole.

From start to finish, the art is truly spectacular in Ultimates #5. Kenneth Rocafort and Dan Brown have been on the series since its start and this issue is their best work together yet. Rocafort makes expert use of a wide array of panels and tiny details scour every page, all combining to create some awesome effects on every page. Energy signatures move beyond the framing of the panels and become other, smaller but impactful details. The panels themselves denote movement, subtly guiding readers’ eyes through the story. Brown’s colors shine light on each of the characters and their momentary existence in the void. The Lifebringer in particular feels as though he is glowing and further heightens his presence juxtaposed with that of the Ultimates. These light effects create a stark contrast between the characters and their environment through different parts of the issue.

The double page spread of Eternity and Lifebringer was absolutely beautiful. Eternity as an image is full of many details and themes, capturing the entire cosmos in one massive and humanoid form. Rocafort and Brown enhanced the being’s ethereal visage by creating synthesis of their styles, with sharp, flowing, and dynamic lines that meld with a mastery of varying brightness and hues. This may be my favorite image of Eternity I’ve ever come across in any comic.

If you’re a fan of the timey-wimey omniversal stuff, then you’re going to love this issue. Ultimates #5 has some excellent talk about Marvel’s omniverse and timelines that will be sure to have some bearing on other series. The end of the issue promises something big for the future of Marvel and the Ultimates as they move into their second volume.

The Verdict: 8.5/10


Related posts