Mark Millar and Leinil Francis Yu kick off the 2nd Ultimate Avengers story arc, but it's more of a Punisher story really.
Credits & Solicit Info:
Ultimate Comics Avengers 2 #1
Written by Mark Millar
Artwork by Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan and Laura Martin
Some jobs are just too dirty for the Ultimates. For these, Nick Fury must gather the Avengers, a black ops team willing to do the missions that others won't. What role will an infamous mass killer play in Fury's plans? Find out here, as the Punisher returns to the Ultimate Universe! The blockbuster team of MARK MILLAR (ULTIMATES) and LEINIL FRANCIS YU (SECRET INVASION) presents the explosive beginning to ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS: CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
The first storyline of Ultimate Avengers was a pretty strong continuation of what Mark Millar was doing with the Ultimates, a big, widescreen superhero story with an edge. But with the 2nd volume, he seems to have mixed things up a bit. We're still following the Avengers, Nick Fury's black ops team, but on the basis of this first issue, it's a bit more down to earth.
The majority of this issue is devoted to the Ultimate Punisher, in fact, you could make an argument for this not being an Avengers book at all, but just the Punisher. We open with 7 pages of pure, uninterrupted carnage, as Frank Castle mows his way through a variety of goons. It may seem that Millar is wasting pages, but Yu draws it so well, and it's the perfect introduction to the character, everything you need to know about the Punisher, you can learn from this issue.
Of course, this isn't just Ultimate Punisher, he's got his sights on a Russian Gangster, but when he attempts to cap him, it's not him, it's Captain America. He can't cap Cap. Heh heh, I'm so clever.
After glorying in Frank's exploits for almost half the book, the audience is then forced to question themselves, as Nick Fury assesses him as a Serial Killer, not a hero. But we already know that Nick has previous with taking bad people and putting them to use, and so he does that here, kitting Frank out in a Captain America-esque outfit, and sending him off to pick up the Hulk. But not Bruce Banner. The original Hulk, who looks like Mister T. Huh?
It's an odd ending to the book, we've seen the Punisher dressed as Captain America before in the regular Marvel Universe, and it didn't really work then either, and the idea of there being a Hulk before Bruce Banner kind of messes with my head. But this is Millar in the Ultimate Universe, I'm sure he knows what he's doing.
This issue is pretty light on story, hell, it's light on everything except the Punisher taking out motherfuckers, so it's hard to really judge where this going, the variant cover promises Ghost Rider, but he's nowhere to be seen. None of the Avengers from the first arc apart from Nick and Black Widow appear at all. It's an odd way to start the 2nd story arc, but I'm ready to wait for the next 5 chapters to see if Millar makes it work.
Part of this is due to the sterling work of Leinil Francis Yu. While I'm suspicious Millar is only working with him because his name spells 'F Yu', he is doing some of the best work of his career here. With many other artists, 6 pages of pointless Punisher action would be just that, pointless, but as I said, under Yu's pencil, it looks so damn good you don't care. If this is the quiet, slower opening first issue, I can't wait to see his work when the story really lets loose.
If you were expecting more of the same from Millar, you might be disappointed, this hardly seems like the same book as the Red Skull arc, but perhaps it's all the better for it.