The book starts off with a haunting Reed Richards story by Jonathan Hickman and Salvador Larocca. I'm not fully invested in the Ultimate Universe, dipping in here and there whenever an artist assignment catches my attention, so the Reed story is a bit of a stretch for me to get through, but there is enough information there to guide me and inform me. There's also enough from Jonathan Hickman and Salvador Larocca to make me want to see more.
I'm not a huge fan of photo-referencing/tracing, and the image of Reed and the Future Foundation/Fight Club Legion is a perfect example of why not, as at least one character appears to have her thumbs hooked into pockets on jeans that she's just not wearing. Otherwise, though, Larocca's work is crisp and clean. The story is easy to follow and the suspense Hickman wrote into the tale shines through.
The second story in the issue features Val Cooper. Written by Nick Spencer with art by Clayton Crain, this story lingers a little too long. All the same, it does drop a bomb on the readers and will certainly have an impact on the Ultimate Universe for some time to come.
Rounding out the issue and gaining all sorts of headlines is the unveiling of the new Ultimate Spider-Man. Sure, he's not Peter Parker. Yes, the news has been all over it. No, I'm not going to spoil it here. Seriously. I'm not.
It's such a shame that people are getting so hung up on the ethnicity of Spider-Man and missing the fact that the story itself brings the essence of Spider-Man to readers. It may not be Peter Parker under the mask, but the character in there sure has some very similar personality traits. Brian Michael Bendis pits the new Spidey against Kangaroo, and the end result is a fun read that has me looking forward to reading "Ultimate Spider-Man," something I honestly don't think I've ever said (or typed).
The art matches the buoyancy of the story, thanks to Sara Pichelli. If Pichelli's onboard for the regular series art, then so am I. Her work is pitch perfect for the character and the universe. It's detailed, but light and springy. I'm not sure if I've encountered her work before, but I'm darn certain I'll be keeping an eye out for more.
I downloaded this book and read it digitally, which seemed to be the right medium to consume this book. The panel-to-panel pacing gave the issue a bit more density, making it feel more like a true anthology than a collection of quick and easy stories.