(Panini Books, �12.99)

THE culmination of a long-running story arc established by premier comics creator Mark Millar, this is a grudge-match throwdown between the Ultimate Universe’s leading teams of super-soldiers, with Spider-Man caught in the middle.

As detailed in previous reviews, the Ultimate U offers an alternative take on the mainstream Marvel continuity, with stories and characters more entrenched in our real world, albeit if we were home to assorted costumed metahumans.

This volume wraps up plotlines surrounding the black ops team of Avengers, their links to the disgraced Nick Fury, and the motives behind its various members, as well as cementing the Ultimates’ position as the world’s foremost superpowered strikeforce.

With both teams believing the other has turned traitor, events conspire to see them go mano-a-mano in the middle of Manhattan, a confrontation which has tragic consequences when the teenage web-slinger takes a bullet meant for Captain America, the results of which unfold in the companion book Death of Spider-Man (can you guess how that one ends?!).

Millar, aided by the artistic talents of Leinil Yu, reveals who has been manipulating Avengers and Ultimates alike, and how their machinations will change the world forever, bringing a resounding conclusion to this chapter in the Ultimate Universe, including his own involvement with the imprint, and setting things up neatly for a new creative team further down the line.

The four-volume Ultimate Avengers series never quite reached the dizzying heights of the first two Ultimates volumes (the less said about Jeph Loeb’s follow-ups the better), but was always head and shoulders above many titles in the marketplace, offering a thrilling blend of politics and blockbuster superhero action which couldn’t fail to entertain. Goodbye Mark Millar, and thanks for the ride!