Take that, Superman/Wonder Woman hook up! Marvel jumped back into the mainstream spotlight when they announced that (Ultimate) Captain America would be elected President of the United States. This transpires as part of their “Divided We Fall” storyline which features the US fractured into different territories, with the West Coast seceding from the Union under the guidance of two Silicon Valley geniuses and other Southwest states falling under control of the Sentinels. Furthermore, militias and secret armies are extending their control in other parts of the country. With Washington DC destroyed, most of the government and the very nation are in a state of disarray.
California is attempting to prevent immigration from the Sentinel-controlled states and this book opens with the deaths of a family of five as they attempt to cross over from Arizona. This becomes another hot button topic as the American public turns out for a special election for President. Incumbent President Howard is trailing in the polls, while “Other” (write-in votes) is in the lead by a great deal. Frustrated by the state of the nation, Captain America wants to go to California to help defuse that situation, but President Howard orders him to remain in Texas. Frustrated, he turns to Nick Fury and they have a lengthy conversation which culminates in Cap wondering if he’d acted more extreme (he uses the term “treason”) before, perhaps the country wouldn’t be in its current fragmented state.
Shortly afterward, news emerges that bug-like robots, the kind that killed the family at the beginning, have open fire on a containment camp, where other refugees had been detained after crossing into California. The responsible parties? Stafford and Holt, the two millionaires who took over the state, but who have been holed up in secrecy ever since. They trusted a mysterious man named Morez to aid them. Morez created and is controlling the wasp-like drones. When the two men plead with him to shut them down, he simply disapears, leaving them with a slaughter on their hands.
Captain America has made his decision and backed by The Ultimates, he goes to California and the heroes attempt to stop the robot rampage. As the battle rages, the news cameras and commentators focus on Captain America’s daring and decisive actions, as he saves life after life. Eventually, Tony Stark is able to pinpoint the source of the drones’ signal and Thor puts an end to the devastation. Of course then, Cap gets some startling news regarding the election… which we already knew, so no spoilers there.
Elsewhere, Morez hatches a new plan that involves a radically Ultimate-ized version of Hydra, no longer the Nazi-like high tech, underground army. This version is more like a militia/domestic terrorist cell. Following the Colorado shooting earlier this summer, this was an eerie development that felt just a tiny bit too realistic.
Overall, the story worked perfectly well in this real-world election year. It really captured the pandemonium and heated debate we see pretty much every time we turn on the tv or *shudder* log onto Facebook. The idea of militias and private citizens seizing control of certain areas hits close to home, as it doesn’t seem that far fetched. This is the Ultimate Universe, so I like that Marvel feels free to depict such a violent storyline like this. There really are few limits when it comes to this reality as they’ve shown time and again.
Captain America shines, obviously. This is his spotlight after all. But even though this isn’t the “real” Cap, he’s all things Cap should be– decisive, frustrated by beauracracy, compassionate and motivated strictly by the desire to help people. While the other heroes are just supporting characters here, they all get a nice beat or two in the action.
The art wasn’t my favorite. To be fair, it was uneven. A few pages looked really good, like the two-page spread of Morez meeting with Hydra. But artist Billy Tan uses a lot of tiny lines, I guess to add detail or depth, but it made the art too sketchy and unclean. Yet, at other times, the art looks crude and under-rendered. His storytelling is absolutely fine. No problems there, but overall, it was just okay.
Overall, was this a must read? I’m not so sure. To be honest, I haven’t read ‘Ultimates’ in quite a while, so I wasn’t immediately up-to-speed. I don’t know who this Morez guy is or of he’s supposed to be an Ultimate version of a 616 character. They do summarize things in the beginning, but it’s not a clean pick-up-and-read issue. It’s okay, though. Solid characterization and storyline. Average art. Not bad.
ULTIMATE COMICS: THE ULTIMATES #15
Written by Sam Humphries
Pencils by Billy Tan
Cover by Michael Komarck