The Avengers get trounced by Ghost Rider, whose nightmarish origins prove to have terrifying implications for the Ultimates' leaders.
Revising Ghost Rider so he's got a specific group of powerful satanists he's seeking vengeance on puts an interesting (and potentially relevant) spin on his origin; making him more of an anti-hero in the Ultimate universe opposed by good guys and bad guys alike. Along that note, I like the range of gray morality presented, here - - it makes characters like Tony Stark
and Nick Fury
that much more interesting by given them very real feet of clay (even if it doesn't always work.)
This whole thing is just messy, and that's especially disappointing in light of how clear and streamlined the Ultimates was when it first rolled out. I'm especially baffled by the inclusion of "the Spider" as he seems like just the sort of convoluted, continuity-produced character these series were supposed to avoid. While it's a great novelty to have Punisher
included in this line-up, he comes off as way too cavalier for a grim vigilante (even if the Ultimate one's different than the 616 one.) It would've been interesting to maybe comment on how he's a spirit of vengeance too, since Ghost Rider has a unnatural kind of omniscience, but we just get a gag and quip instead. The Punisher and lot of other characterizations' seem to be really out of whack, going for rude shocks in their dialogue that don't make a lot of sense for the characters. I'm particularly thinking of the way Sharon Carter
gets pranked, how "Nerd Hulk" is such a moron and that really bizarre revelation about Nick Fury's relationship with the new Black Widow
The Verdict - 2/5
I get the sense that this was written with an aim to see what ridiculous things could be gotten away with, rather than truly trying to tell new, continuity-free stories with these concepts. It's a real shame, since it flies in the face of what this whole imprint was designed to do. Instead of clearing things up and getting to the core of these characters, like Ultimate Comics Spider-Man
is doing, this is just mess of "shocks."