If you weren’t a fan of Mark Millar’s characterization of the Ultimates -- in that many were deemed unlikable, mean, cruel, and cold -- well, you may not want to read “Ultimate Comics Avengers,” as we get introduced to Nick Fury’s recruits for his new black ops Avengers team and they are even more over-the-top in being harsh bastards. But, it’s the sort of character Millar writes well, at least.
In this issue, we meet Tony Stark’s brother, Gregory, and he’s pretty much the opposite of Tony in every conceivable fashion, which is a little grating since Millar tries too hard to establish that fact. Then, there’s War Machine, whose debut you can see for yourself, as he rescues two captured US soldiers in Afghanistan and then decimates the village they were taken to. Also making appearances are a new Wasp, Black Widow, and Hulk, all of whom are suited to this sort of work and are different enough from the originals.
Not so much plot-driven, this issue has the team come together as we’re introduced to the new members through different scenes, and it progresses to their first attempt at recapturing Captain America, who has gone AWOL after learning that his son is the Red Skull. How much someone enjoys this issue depends on how much they enjoy Mark Millar introducing new versions of characters that are more amoral and cold than the previous ones. In some cases, like Gregory Stark, Millar tries too hard to establish this new version. In others, like the new Wasp, that this is a pre-existing character makes the characterization seem more natural.
Carlos Pacheco’s art continues to shine in this series as Millar gives him various action scenes to draw to introduce the new Avengers. The redesigned War Machine seen in the previews is a logical update of the War Machine concept and seeing the new group in action near the end of the issue is a joy. His art continues to suffer from not having one inker throughout as the line work shifts from page to page at times. None of the changes make the art look bad, they’re just a little jarring.
Halfway through the book’s first arc, all of the pieces have finally been put in place after last issue gave us the origin of the Red Skull and this issue gives us the introduction of Nick Fury’s Avengers team. Millar’s writing may not be for everyone, but that this black ops group truly is a darker version of the Ultimates is a smart move and seems like a strategy Fury would use.