The big purple guy is back, and he’s worked up something of an appetite in his absence. An historic union gets a cosmic kick-off in the first chapter of Marvel’s precursor to its next event.
For all of the plot reveals and giveaway in the lead-up to the end of Age of Ultron, the most closely guarded secret was that it would bleed into the Ultimate Universe. As Galactus appeared hovering over Mile Morales, the Ultimate Spider-man, it was the moment that fans of both worlds had been waiting for (or perhaps dreading) since the line’s launch in 2000. Yet any cause for celebration may be short lived, as we suspect that the coming of the world eater and the revelation of a Marvel multiverse may not bode well for the Ultimate imprint.
Rick Jones, a long-time sidekick to just about everybody at some time or another in the main Marvel Universe is the Golden Surfer over in the Ultimate’s world. Appointed by The Watcher to guard the universes (plural), he grows bored of his duties, looking to get a quick fix on a burger instead. However, when The Watcher beams him into the middle of a Kree-Chitauri war, he witnesses the coming of Gah Lak Tus, an alien robot insect swarm not dissimilar to the Annihilation Wave. However, due to the fractured nature of space/time, the Marvel Universe’s Galactus appears, and he has worked up his own powerful appetite.
The Marvel Cosmic Universe can get pretty convoluted for the uninitiated, and writer Joshua Hale Fialkov handily eases new readers and old alike into this exposition issue. Rick Jones is written for comedy, an absolute necessity when dealing with the operatic nature of this cosmic ballet. Jones here is a far cry from the hanger-on of the 1960s, and very much “our voice” in the tradition of Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley’s “Ultimate Peter Parker” introduced over a decade ago. The Ultimate versions of Gah Lak Tus and Chitauri are nice nods to fans, but the ultimate revelation of Galactus is a show-stopping moment, one that almost makes the Age of Ultron event that led up to it worthwhile.
Yet despite this being an “introductory” issue of sorts, the epic scope cannot be understated, especially with Leonard Kirk (Supergirl, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) on art duties. His depiction of the hapless Jones sells the lighter tone of the first half of the book, before segueing into a classic Marvel space battle between the Kree and Chitauri and the halfway turning point. His Galactus, not seen around these parts for quite some time, is imposing and almost bursting out of the page. Colourist Jesus Aburtov enhances Kirk’s work with a dazzling array of textures, some of which can’t possibly be found on Earth.
We get a strong feeling that by the time this and Infinity is through, the world devourers at Marvel editorial will have brought the Ultimate Universe to a close. From a marketing standpoint alone, the line has served its purpose, with the Marvel NOW! event and the films finally serving as the mass-market jumping-on points that the rich history of the Ultimate Universe no longer does. For now, the first chapter of Hunger gives us a reason to look forward to the rest of the series, especially as we know it is leading into Infinity and the reintroduction of Thanos.
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