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A surprisingly good big crossover event, with much character-development as well as a cataclysm
on 13 July 2014
This volume collects Hunger #1-4, Cataclysm #0.1, Cataclysm: The Ultimates' Last Stand #1-5, Cataclysm: Ultimate Spider-Man #1-3, Cataclysm: The Ultimates #1-3; Cataclysm: Ultimate X-Men #1-3 and Cataclysm: Survive! #1 in one ginormous 400+ page compilation: Cataclysm: The Ultimates' Last Stand. Although there is a big cast-list of creators, the two writers, Bendis and Fialkov write their own character's sections, and the artists are also kept caged in their own mini-series, so there is an internal consistency to the various sections.
The main story itself, running through Hunger, The Ultimates Last Stand and Survive! is a very good, fast-moving and well-scripted story. The three mini-series feed into it and should be read BEFORE the Last Stand story, particularly the Spider-Man one, as he has a big part to play in the resolution. There are some big changes (yet again) in the Ultimate Universe, but the quality of the story is up to the challenge of making it feel natural and not merely a plot-requirement.
THE SPOILER ZONE
The story is fairly straightforward, and is set days "after Reed Richards seized control of the world and was overthrown". I am only giving the edited highlights of the storylines here, there is much more going on, and there a surprising amount of character-development. There is some really-good storytelling here.
Hunger #1-4 shows us that the Age of Ultron event has caused a catastrophic failure to the structure of space/time, bringing on the end of the multiverse - see the current New Avengers for details. This has allowed `our' Galactus to break through into a nearby dimension that is home to the Ultimates universe. He merges with their Gah Lak Tus swarm, which is in the middle of a battle to eat the Chitauri and Kree armadas, and then sets out to eat their universe. After a fight with Rick Jones, Protector of the Universe, Captain Marvel and the Silver Surfer ("Technically it's Mahr Vehl"), Galactus heads to Earth to re-energise himself. We get to see a lot of background to the Chitauri and Kree here, and discover the very secret origin of the Gah lak Tus swarm, and get a new Captain Marvel.
Cataclysm #0.1 opens with the Vision investigating the remains of a Gah Lak Tus swarm member that has appeared on Earth (during `Hunger' above), and she is able to read its memory. She sets off to confront the approaching Galactus to try and reason with him. She fails. Her last message to Earth is that Reed Richards can stop him...
Cataclysm: The Ultimates' Last Stand #1-5 sees Galactus arriving in New York, as per the established rules for invading Earth, and setting up home in New Jersey and beginning to build one of his big Kirby-machines. The Ultimates and SHIELD try to stop him, with the expected results. Recognising Galactus's energy signature, Stark sends Spider-Boy and Reed Richards through Mysterio's portal back to our Earth to look for the Fantastic Four. Reed's DNA gets them into Reed's laboratory, where he downloads the Galactus files, and sees a family portrait of our FF and their kids (executed in the style of John Byrne), which has an effect on him that will be important later on. Valeria finds them and triggers the alarm unleashing a swarm of angry HERBIEs; Reed sends Spider-Boy away with the data and draws their fire. Spidey returns with the data and Stark gets to work on it, while the Ultimates and the X-Men and everyone else gets to work rescuing New Yorkers from the chaos. Finally, Kitty Pride is given a suit of armour, a Giant Man treatment, and sent to phase through Galactus's machine - "as long as you're there you can slap him if you like". This leads to a final battle in which some Ultimates are lost, and Reed Richards finally reveals his real secret weapon...
Cataclysm: Ultimate Spider-Man #1-3 takes place after Ultimate Comics Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis Volume 5, and starts with the SHIELD/Ultimates debriefing of Spider-Girl on the result of that storyline, and then follows the other young heroes from it as they get on with their lives - Bombshell, Cloak & Dagger and, of course, Spider-boy. Then Galactus appears, and the kids rush around recuing people from the catastrophe, including J. Jonah Jameson, whose plane crashes on Miles Morals' street, would you believe... Their story then merges with `Cataclysm: The Ultimates' Last Stand', and should be read before that storyline, as Miles plays a big part in its resolution. There is also a lot of character-development, and this really is an important part of the Spider-Man storyline.
Cataclysm: The Ultimates #1-3 follows Nick Fury and his Secret Warriors as they try to break up a coup by the Church of Gah Lak Tus in Belarus. It turns out A.I.M. have found religion, and MODOK has found a god - the approaching Galactus, and is out to deliver a techno-zombie population for him to feed on when he arrives...
Cataclysm: Ultimate X-Men #1-3 sees the X-Men hunting for survivors in the wreckage in the no-longer floating city of Tian. Galactus appears during this, and a wounded Pixie teleports everyone `sideways' into another dimension, where they find Captain Marvel, who Bobby Drake recognises as Rick Jones, who in `Hunger' pulled the Gah Lak Tus swarm out of the Ultimates' universe and into wherever they are now. After some adventures and a great deal of character-development, the X-Men return to take part in `Cataclysm: The Ultimates' Last Stand', and this story should be read before that one, in order to line everyone up properly.
Cataclysm: Survive! #1 sees the clearing up after the Galactus event, with funerals for the apparently dead [spoiler] and the disbanding of the Ultimates, as there are not enough of them left. An apparently now sane Reed Richards is to be found discussing this and the disbanding of SHIELD (from behind a force-field) with Susan Storm in the remains of the Baxter Building... However, Spider-Girl has a solution... All-New Ultimates Volume 1: Power for Power