The Ultimates, in case you haven't been paying attention, have decided to end the Serpent Skulls. The gang's co-leader, Diamondback, killed Bombshell's boyfriend, Poey, and took control of her. Lana led the gang to the Ultimates' headquarter in an abandoned church. The gang and our heroes fought until Bombshell retained control of herself...and now she wants vengeance!
Meanwhile, the vigilante Scourge has been killing thugs and he is prepared to the Ultimates and Skulls' battle!
At the Westside Church, the battle between Spider-Man and Crossbones is interrupted by the collapse of the platform underneath them. They fall into fire, but the fighting continues vigorously. In the meantime, Bombshell is wrecking hell and destroying the church out of fury, looking for Diamondback, her boyfriend’s killer. When Lana finds the lieutenant of the Serpent Skulls, Sidewinder teleports her away. Then, he strikes Bombshell in the back.
Meanwhile in the burning church, Kitty succeeds in slamming Anaconda’s head into the floor, and Black Widow trips the Black Racer with her webs. Outside, Dagger battles Death Adder. Cloak is concerned that, if Bombshell continues in her fit, the church will be destroyed.
On the streets, Detective O’Reilly tells her backup that they will be entering the fray. Detective Dennis explains, “Skulls are off-limits to us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t catch them in the act and, y’know…slap their wrists a li’l.” Behind them, Scourge watches the detectives and rambles about mercy and prayer. He busts open the church door and begins shooting the gangsters inside.
Back at the main conflict, Sidewinder attempts to convince Diamondback to leave the scene, but she replies, “I’m can’t decide whether it’s cute or insulting you’re ordering me around.” Bombshell then recovers, blasts Sidewinder, and punches Diamondback. A group of thugs surround Lana, but she brutally blows them away. Kitty Pryde grabs her friend, trying to convince her to stop before somebody gets killed. “Whatever your feelings, we have to get out of here before this place burns to the ground,” Kitty exclaims.
When Cloak drops into the action, Kitty asks if he can teleport them out of the church. He tells her that he could if they could manage to corral everybody together. Suddenly, Lana runs away. Meanwhile, Spider-Man and Crossbones resume their battle. Miles gets a few good hits in, but is halted when Crossbones takes him out with a hit in the back.
Black Widow continues in beating up thugs, until Detective O’Reilly enters the battle and orders Scourge to freeze. O’Reilly fires her gun, and Scourge falls to the floor along with another gangster who caught fire. The thug asks for Scourge’s help getting up, but he stabs him instead. The vigilante races away until he spots Crossbones about to kill Spider-Man. Scourge stabs the villain, and he responds by punching him. In the sewers under the church, Crossbones, wounded, falls over a cliff. Miles webs up Scourge and thanks him for saving him.
Eventually, everybody, heroes and villains, begin escaping the church, except for Bombshell. Instead, she blows up the floor underneath herself, almost suicidally. Cloak, luckily, absorbs the fire and blast. Kitty convinces Lana to leave the destroyed church.
The Ultimates escape the crime scene together, and the detectives on the scene notice Kitty Pryde is among them. They contemplate arresting them, but O’Reilly decides, “Doesn’t look it, but they’ve done more good than harm here.” The heroes watch the church burn, and Cloak is disappointed he couldn’t completely contain the flames. “I thought I hated that church…so why’s this sadder than it should be?” Dagger asks.
Perhaps she’s disappointed at all the loose ends from their battle: Sidewinder and Diamondback escaped injured but alive, Crossbones is still alive in the sewers, Detective Schreck is also alive in the sewers, and the schizophrenic guy from the past few issues is in rehab.
As their headquarters is destroyed, Kitty explains to Lana, “I get that thing that urges us to destroy ourselves, lash out… But don’t let go of the thing that urges us to rebuild.” Lana murmurs that she just wants Poey, and she never told him how much she loved him. Kitty hugs her and says, “He knew.”
I’ve decided to do something unusual and begin this review by talking about the art. This is an all-action issue, so the story was really reliant on visuals, but Amilcar Pinna failed utterly. Pinna doesn’t draw good flow or energy to the battle. The panel layout is, at times, confusing, and never does it impress. Not only that, but Pinna misses the emotional beats of the story. He doesn’t, in my opinion, do a well enough job of showing Lana’s rage, and he fails to really make any of the essential major beats of the fight stand out, which most artists can pull off. Overall, the artwork ruins this issue completely.
Although the art was terrible, Fiffe’s dialogue doesn’t help anything. I’ve noticed that he is terrific at writing drama, but his one-liners really need work. Particularly, Scourge’s lines like “My justice is served!” and “My justice is absolute!” made me wince. The other lines are rather boring and fall flat in the humor section.
There are certain plot points I don’t understand about Fiffe’s arc. What purpose did Detective O’Reilly serve? She never pushed the plot forward or added any good character work to the book. The schizophrenic informant guy was also a bit confusing considering his role in the series. Heck, even Scourge’s character didn’t go anywhere, really. I guess he filled space in the series, but that was about it. Looking at this conclusion, it seems like Fiffe never really had any plans for his characters and was making it all up as he went.
I was also unsatisfied with all the loose ends of this issue. It was my hope that Fiffe would end the whole Serpent Skulls plot thread with this issue, but he didn’t. It’s obvious that he plans on milking the plotline until his short run comes to a conclusion at issue 12. The villains are boring and, in six issues, Fiffe has failed to develop them at all of anything. I hoped he would leave them behind for the second half of the series, but he’s insistent on bringing them back.
Overall, Pinna's artwork fails at the action and Fiffe's conclusion to this arc is unfulfilling.
Looking back, the average score of this beginning arc is 2 webs, which I would say is generous. The only truly good issue was the fourth one, which also happened to be the one where Fiffe took a break from the action. The Serpent Skulls are lame villains and their plot has been stretched way too long. Pinna's art only made this arc worse. Although I hate to say it, I'm not really suprised this series is being cancelled.