The best part about the Ultimate Universe? Anything goes now. I first got into the Ultimate Universe because it featured realistic and new takes on the characters. Now like Loeb or not, he shook up the universe to something I find absolutely intriguing. No Wolverine, X-Men, Dr. Doom, or Daredevil. Hell, Mr. Fantastic is a villain now and Ben Grimm is purple. But importantly, I love this universe because nothing is sacred. And I think this is where Millar's strength as a writer comes in.
So far, this arc has been much better than the much hyped and very disappointing vampire arc. This issue shows the promise and convergence of what Millar's has been building.
The very beautiful cover is the one of the only things I find disappointing. Fury doesn't sport a M16 and Blade and Hawkeye are barely featured in the comic. The epic fight between the Avengers and New Ultimates happens last issue and here we just get the repercussions and arrest of Nick Fury. Millar is writing so many characters (finally Giant Man 2 is revealed to be Scott Lang) that many get lost in the scuffle. Personally, I forgot War Machine and Iron Man were in this issue. My second gripe is MIllar trying to comedically explain why Thor is talking in modern English. While I disliked Loeb getting Thor to speak Old English and the explanation, MIllar changing it back (and he has the right since he created that version of Thor) just seems so ham handed.
What I like are the characterizations. Last vampire arc had Millar writing uncharacteristically Captain America as a cold and standoffish. Finally, Millar shows us the very human soldier we know him as, we get to see him tend to the wounded Spider-Man. Also, we get to see Monica Chang as more intuitive than we've seen. Also, Millar is quite impressive when writing The Punisher. I like his very black and white version of Frank Castle.
This arc is reminiscent of Ulimates season 2 as there is a traitor in the midst of miscommunication and mistrust. Likewise the twist is very well handled. While the end of the issue marks the death of a long standing character, I refuse to believe that they're dead, not because the character's important but rather I believe that Millar is far too clever to end things this way. Mark Millar's writing can either be bombastic and sensational (Kick-Ass, Nemesis), very sentimental and nostalgic (1985, Fantastic Four), or cynical and thrilling and this arc has been the most like his original run with Hitch. I really feel like there's something at stake now and now I'm fully engaged in how this ends. I mean it's his most timely comic.
Francis Lenil Yu has probably been Millar's best fit for series and I really enjoy his stellar action sequences and even small moments.
While it's not a jaw dropping issue and pinnacle to the Ultimate universe, it's an important issue and very fascinating in terms of the entire arc and relaunch of the title. We finally see Millar putting his very well-thought out final touches on his creations.