Review by Frank Plowright
This is an extremely slim book struggling to hit ninety story pages, but for the first time in the series it’s two separate shorter stories instead of a six chapter arc. It’s a blessing, because the limited page count forces writers Mike Carey and then Mark Millar to dive straight into their stories, instead of the slow build experienced under Warren Ellis in Doom and N-Zone.
Carey, who’ll become the long-term writer with Vol. 8: Devils, auditions with a story picking up immediately after the end of N-Zone, with the team now publicly revealed and returning from Las Vegas to the Baxter Building in New York. Once there, though they discover it’s been taken over by someone rejected years previously as not fitting the desirable psychiatric profile for attendees. She has a grudge and seems determined to prove that psychiatric assessment correct.
The story is drawn by Jae Lee, the master of shadows and silhouettes, who turns the Baxter Building and its passageways into something dark, creepy and foreboding. That’s equally the case for the introduction of the Ultimate Inhumans. Lee drew the most celebrated iteration in the primary Marvel universe, and here he’s given the opportunity to redesign the characters from the ground up. Crystal remains blonde, largely human and perky, and Black Bolt isn’t too different, but as seen on the sample art, the remainder are re-envisioned. Medusa now resembles her Grecian namesake, and these are no longer comforting, almost human people, but strange and threatening.
Rona Burchill is a new creation, but her manner and associates are very similar to the old FF foe the Thinker, so under Carey she’s a viably creepy challenge lacking a conscience, and an interesting departure. Lee’s art transforms it into a horror story rather than a standard superhero outing. Despite their look, that’s not greatly the case for Millar’s Inhumans story. Until the ending he doesn’t stray far from the template of their original universe introduction, and there’s not a great deal of story in forty pages, leaving all the wonder down to Lee.
These stories are combined with Ellis’ ‘N-Zone’ in the second hardcover Ultimate Fantastic Four, and Millar picks up the continuity with Crossover.