There are major upheavals happening in the Ultimate Universe. In “Ultimate X-Men,” mutants have been revealed as creations of the U.S. Government. In “Ultimate Spider-Man,” a new teen is Spider-Man. In “The Ultimates,” the Asgardians have been eliminated and a giant city is slowly taking over Europe. And, now, in “Ultimate Hawkeye,” the Southeast Asian Republic has given birth to Celestials and Eternals that live in twin cities that float above the SEAR capital. This mini-series concludes by establishing a new power in the Ultimate Universe in the Celestials and Eternals that is part of a linewide attempt to push the Ultimate Universe in directions that the Marvel Universe could never go in, and the results are electrifying.
The Celestials and Eternals comprise two camps of superhumans created by the SEAR, each led by one of two twin brothers, Xorn and Zorn. The Celestials are dedicated to peace and enlightenment, while the Eternals are more aggressive zealots. Much of this issue is dedicated to setting up their existence and role in the Ultimate Universe as a place that could lead to the transformation of humanity (the ‘Deviants,’ as Zorn calls humans) into something greater, opening their doors to anyone who wishes to come to the cities. They even offer the Source (the serum that gave them powers) freely, setting up something akin to what the Inhumans were without the xenophobia and closed borders. Coupled with the Children and their expanding City in “The Ultimates,” the Ultimate Universe could look very different in a year.
Rafa Sandoval’s art continues to get better with each issue. His clean, simple line work shows off his strong designs and ability to pick effective angles and layouts. His storytelling is very economical, each panel packing in as much information as possible while delivering it in as compact and direct a manner as possible. The art in the opening pages of this issue practically makes the words unnecessary.
While the ideas and characters introduced in this issue are intriguing and offer a host of possibilities, this is the conclusion to a mini-series centered on Hawkeye. In that respect, this issue is a disappointment. His mission ends, but there’s still nothing intrinsic about this story that demanded that Hawkeye take the lead besides his limited powers and ability to keep a calm head. This wasn’t a Hawkeye story; it was a story that happened to feature Hawkeye when various other members of the Ultimates could have been slotted into his place. The end of the issue seems to justify the choice, suggesting that Hawkeye’s loyalty to Nick Fury sets him apart, but it’s not enough.
As a tie-in to what’s happening in “The Ultimates,” “Ultimate Hawkeye” effectively expands upon a subplot and gives it the necessary room to be its own story, but, as a story centered around Hawkeye, it’s less effective. On the whole, though, this series, and this issue in particular, has showed off Jonathan Hickman’s strengths at creating interesting, thoughtful characters and situations. What he does with the Celestials and Eternals going forward is an exciting question to think about.