"All-New Ultimates" #4 presents one of my favorite types of super-hero story: the downtime issue. Any book can be filled with flying dudes and broads in cool poses making awesome explosions with their minds and brawn, but if there's no personality behind it then it's just a pretty date with nothing to say. This issues gives readers, and subsequently the women of the team, a chance to get to know each other better before Michel Fiffe and Amilcar Pinna hit the detonator on their lives and tosses them right back in to the deep end with the Snake Gang, a situation they had thought was past them.
Kitty Pryde, Dagger, Black Widow and Bombshell head to Coney Island for a little R 'n R in the summer heat, giving Fiffe a chance to have some fun with Kitty's newfound status as a global icon. The interaction is playful and the dialogue is all great. Fiffe has a handle on pacing and voice. Each of the girls sounds like their own person. Jessica reveals to everyone that she's a clone of Peter and in doing so reveals her own internal problems regarding her memories. It's a fascinating debate -- at what point does she develop her own identity and become her own person? Searching for your identity is such a real thing for any teen but to have to deal with it and the idea that your identity is predetermined and out of your hands is a rich layer to add on top. Don't expect an answer here, but do expect a real conversation about heavy stuff between a group of young women that are becoming very close. Bombshell is called away to meet her boyfriend Poey, who's already been visited by Diamondback and her crew, propelling the story forward for next issue and leaving Bombshell in a very bad place.
Miles and Ganke have a fun scene headed to the movies where they gab about Miles' recent smoocharoo with a woman who was not Kate Bishop. Amilcar Pinna's art through most of the issue is great but his Ganke just looks off. There are a couple panels where the Ganksta looks like a Real Doll instead of a teenager and he's too thin. I like a pudgy Ganke! We need all the body types shown in our comics, and especially in the Ultimate U, which was founded on the idea that it's much closer to our own. I don't want to just crap on the art though! It's really good in the rest of the issue, from clothing design down to character models. Our female heroes are all gorgeous in their own ways and the action in Poey's apartment at the end is intense and full of energy. It was just these pages that stuck out a bit.
The ending puts our reformed criminal on the team in serious trouble. There's a bit of back-and-forth between Diamondback and her flunkies when they insinuate they want to sexually assault a under-Diamondback-control Lana and D-back wipes the floor with them, as she should. But the violation that Diamondback is about to engage in is pretty bad too. Lana may be selling out her friends and not able to stop herself from doing so. A teenager this fragile will have fallout from an action like this, and based on Fiffe's writing so far I don't think it will be shied away from.
This is a solid downtime issue that gives us a better understanding of our heroes and lets us know where their heads are at before we jump back in to pretty explosions. "All-New Ultimates" had a shaky start but is getting better with each issue.