The Ultimates: Against All Enemies Review

The Ultimates: Against All Enemies is a 2007 superhero novel written by Alex Irvine, published by Pocket Books.  The story follows the Ultimates, a group of super heroes operatives employed by the government to face threats to humanity too powerful for conventional operatives to handle, who are secretly fighting a war with the alien menace named the Chitauri, who plan to wipe humanity off the face of the Earth.


Positives:

  • Well-written characters
  • Interesting story
  • Intense dialogue
  • The writing is solid

Negatives:

  • Story is slow to get into
  • Non-memorable antagonists

Plot:  The story is basically about Nick Fury and the Ultimates struggling to locate and defeat the Chitauri who are still on Earth.  Tony Stark develops a metal detector-like technolgy that can detect Chitauri DNA as Hank Pym develops a method of ants being able to key in on Chitauri.  The story is pretty interesting but a good majority of it is pretty slow.  Yes, there is espionage and intrigue but it does feel like a chore.  I think a great subplot to help the story’s focus on the characters is the dysfunction among the Ultimates that works against them as much as the Chitauri.  The story also follows the Chitauri and their plans on how they plan to deal with the Ultimates was actually pretty interesting, though the lack of a “master plan” did seem odd.  The climax was pretty intense and does come to decent conclusion.  (3 out of 5)

Characters:  I love the depiction of the characters.  In the MCU the Avengers like each other and are friends and they get along but in this book, they don’t like each other, they don’t get along, and their relationships are strained because of they’re conflicting personalities and ideologies.  The main cast includes Steve Rogers/Captain America, Tony Stark/Iron Man, Nick Fury, Thor, Hank Pym/Ant-Man, Clint Barton/Hawkeye, and Janet Pym/Wasp. Captain America is conflicted as he’s seeing how the world really is.  The government keeps secrets from its civilians, and yes there is this secret war with the Chitauri invasion and he believes the people should no.

Hank Pym is just this dick that everyone hates, despite his attempts to prove himself, there are moments where you kind of feel sorry for him because he has a lot of issues but he turns around and does another dick move.  Janet has separated from Hank for nearly killing her.  I wish she had more to do. Clint Barton was pretty badass.  Nick Fury is probably the most sympathetic characters as he’s taking flack from his superiors, trying to stop the Chitauri, and dealing with the dysfunction of his Ultimates team.  Thor doesn’t get much to do til the end of the book, though I like his insight.  Wasn’t interested in the least about him looking for Loki.  Bruce Banner is here but doesn’t get anything to do, due to prior events of the story he nearly leveled a city).

The Chitauri are the main antagonists of the story and they basically want to wipe out humanity.  Their reasons and motivations are unknown and their aren’t really Chitauri characters that stand out.  No leaders, no generals, no one really for the heroes to go back and forth with.  They just feel really generic.  Yeah, it’s cool that they can shapeshift so there is a sense of tension where the characters don’t know who they can trust, but there isn’t like a badass Chitauri that’s running the show.

However, despite the boring bad guys.  The good guys are actually well written with a lot of complexity. (4 out of 5)

Writing:   The writing isn’t half bad and Alex Irvine is pretty solid on characterization. The action is handled well enough to keep encounters pretty intense, though not all of the heroes have continuous battles with the Chitauri except Captain America.  For people who love to see these heroes in action, they will be disappointed.  There isn’t a lot of action and for the moments that are there, they aren’t really memorable. The dialogue is intense, especially between the differing personalities.

Love how Irvine shows readers the perspective of the Chitauri and how they process and plan and view humans, though I would’ve liked to seen some standout.  Some might not find these sections interesting and I did skip them once or twice to get back to the heroes but it’s still interesting to read.  There is a sense of tension but it doesn’t come from some Chitauri plan to blow up the planet, it’s more on who to trust because the Chitauri can shapeshift.

All-in-all, the writing is good.  (3 out of 5)


The Verdict:  In the end, The Ultimates: Against All Enemies is a good read and definitely a different take on the Avengers…I mean the Ultimates.  The two biggest problems I had with the read were the Chitauri and the slow pacing.  However, Alex Irvine does a great job with the storytelling, the dialogue, the characterization, and overall direction of the story.  The Ultimates: Against All Enemies gets 3 out of 5.

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