Ultimate Fantastic Four: Ghosts

It’s been almost a week and an unfortunately high number of other books since I read Ghosts, but I can certainly say that I liked it. The Cosmic Cube storyline that started all the way back in God War finally comes to a head, and in such a way as to make me like that book a little better than I did at the time[1]. Basically, big bad guy Thanatos shows up to swipe the Cosmic Cube he tricked Reed Richards into making for him, which has consumed Reed’s attention for so long that all of his relationships are falling by the wayside. And as if a godlike dude with complete control over death being given a device chock-full of cosmic powers[2] isn’t enough to worry about, two threats from the communist past are also hanging around to make life tricky for our overwhelmed heroes. So, if you’ve been missing the Crimson Dynamo from your admittedly non-existent Ultimate Iron Man series[4] or the Red Ghost (who you may recall controls hyper-intelligent animals and is also sort of a ghost) from this series, Carey has got you covered! Meanwhile, brief spoilers below the break.

I did still have a couple of issues with the book, one structural again and the other ethical. I acknowledge that I’m way out ahead in the Ultimate Universe timeline with these books relative to the other series I’m reading. But it’s too much trouble to figure out the exact order, and anyway, I’ll be catching up soon enough. Hopefully in time for that Ultimatum thing that’s coming down the pipe? That said, it is puzzling to me how much more of a free hand the UFF books have to create sweeping global events that affect all the other Ultimate characters, as compared to the other titles I’m reading. It might be a change in the style of the universe that I’m too far behind everywhere else to be aware of, but if not, I wonder why the special treatment?

And on the ethical front, our Reed Richards enacts a causal time loop when he sends his Cosmic Cube back in time to Thanatos, inspiring all the events that followed. And if they’d taken a few words to explain the laws of the physical universe making this necessary, or expressing Reed’s discomfort with it, I’d probably not mind. But instead, we have Reed guaranteeing the deaths of billions or trillions of people and multiple civilizations in a scene that is kind of a tacked on wrap-up to the storyline. I am not so much a fan of this!

[1] To be clear, I still think it has serious character development flaws, which are probably more structural than endemic.[3] But, the storyline itself hangs together a lot better for me now than it did at the time, when I was focussed on the flaws and couldn’t see the long-term plot benefits.
[2] I know that’s essentially meaningless. Just think of the powers as being, y’know, really cool and, uh, powerful.
[3] That is, given a little more time onscreen, or maybe slightly fewer new characters to keep track of in the screen-time allotted, those characters probably would have been pretty interesting. But the structural constraints of that part of the story were too great.
[4] Well, yes, it exists, but so far it’s been entirely given over to an origin story retcon.

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