Ultimates: Against All Enemies uses characters from the Marvel comic book series the Ultimates. Characters include Captain America, Wasp, Giant Man/Ant-Man, Thor, Hawkeye, and Nick Fury. The comic book stories are grim and gritty. Mark Millar and Brian Hitch know how to pen a story that makes you want to claw out your eyes in sorrow and weep with glee all at the same time. If you have not read the graphic novels, stop reading this review and grab them. Ultimates vol. 1 is ISBN 0785110828 and Ultimates 2 is ISBN 0785121382. Ok, now I will continue assuming you know something about the Ultimates and that is why you are thinking about spending 8 of your hard earned dollars and several hours of your life reading this book.
This story takes place after the first Ultimates series and after the first Ultimates Paperback: Tomorrow Men. While it is not necessary to have read the first paperback before you read this novel, you must read the first Graphic Novel or you will be lost, confused, and even more disappointed with your reading experience. The villains of the first series, the Chitauri, are back for more mayhem. For those who don't know, the Chitauri are alien shape shifters, and they can take the form of anyone they eat. After infiltrating key positions around the globe, they are ready to strike back at the humans, and it is up to the Ultimates to stop them!
If you're a fan of the comics, this probably sounds pretty familiar. That's because it is the same story line as issues 7-13 of Ultimates, the same material reprinted in Ultimates: Homeland Security. Ultimates: Against All Enemies does not give us new material, it takes something Millar made successful and re-wraps it for paperback consumption, leaving those of us who love and adore the Millar Ultimates to wonder why we spent our time and money instead of simply re-reading Ultimates Volume 1.
To make matters even worse, (and yes, it can be worse) the characters are not Irvine's own, so I allow for some discrepancies of continuity. However, there are so many between Ultimates vol.1, Ultimates: Against All Enemies, and Ultimates vol. 2 that it creates distraction from what little story there is. The character development of this Ultimate Captain America is interesting, and there is some further shaping of Ultimates Iron Man's character, but that is about all. Furthermore, other characters like Black Widow, and Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are left out. I think there could have been use for them.
At the end of the day, Ultimates: Against All Enemies offers nothing new, it just regurgitates the great work of Millar and Hitch. If you love the characters and just want a fix until Ultimates 3, then go ahead, but be warned. If you have never read Ultimates, then go grab Volume 1 and you will not be disappointed.
Side note: Ultimates are definitely PG 13 and up. I would not recommend this for very young readers, like those under 12.
Overall, I would recommend this as a light vacation book for hardcore Ultimates fans.