By Tim Stevens
Dear General Fury,
As requested, here are my and S.H.I.E.L.D. consultant Doctor Sam Humphries’s notes on the annual evaluations of your Ultimates team. As is protocol, your own assessment is included as well. Please be aware all have signed the appropriate releases for me to share this information with you and were made aware of the purpose of these interviews. As such, all information gained should be viewed with some measure of skepticism as the subjects no doubt were less than forthcoming about certain details they knew would be shared with you and possible other high ranking officers or government officials.
Nick Fury: Fury is a male who presents as in his prime adult years but files indicate he is older than this. In any case, he appears to be in strong physical condition.
While S.H.I.E.L.D. is not known for being a low pressure work environment in the first place, it has, of late, become even more fraught with stress than typical. Fury has continued to operate as though this increased level of pressure has escaped his notice and not affected his mental state, but this does appear to be something of a front.
He largely refuses to engage this topic in interview sessions, but has allowed that the death of the original Spider-Man is something that bothers him and he feels a large measure of responsibility for. His reticence to discuss this further, however, means that this writer cannot comfortably guess at how much it has interfered with or altered the client’s ability to make decisions and/or strategize.
Dr. Humphries’s Notes: “The director of S.H.I.E.L.D. derives much of his identity from being in the eye of the hurricane, the heart of global security, and the man with his finger on one of the biggest triggers in the world. He has one mission where failure is not an option, with no endpoint in sight: keep the Ultimates together. Unfortunately, as you'll see below, there's no way he can succeed forever. But he's also my boss, so I recommend doubling his salary.”
Iron Man: The client, Tony Stark, is an adult male who presents as being in average to above average physical fitness. His physical health, however, is considerably more complicated than that. He is living with a terminal condition that doctors have estimated will end his life within five years, at the longest. Additionally, he fits the criteria of alcohol abuse and, most likely, would be diagnosed as alcohol dependent had he fully filled out the substance abuse assessment scales as requested. Instead, he allowed a young waitress named Leeza to do so for him and has repeatedly dodged this writer’s attempts to provide an accurate and honest response sheet.
Adding to this toxic situation is the recent death of his brother. While the two were not close most of their lives and had what could be understatedly described as a sibling rivalry when they did interact, the client’s flippant attitude towards his sibling death, especially given his condition, would suggest some disingenuousness.
Considering these factors, this writer sees no choose but to recommend that Stark be placed on an administrative leave for the foreseeable future, until more comprehensive assessments can be done and he agrees to be more cooperative.
Dr. Humphries’s Notes: “There are many Ultimates whose evaluations could fill a best-selling pop-psychology book, and Tony Stark is absolutely one of them. A genius who self-medicates, an entrepreneur who shoots himself in the foot, a powerful man who isn't sure if he respects power; I fail to understand why he is allowed to continue to operate one of the most advanced weapons in the world.”
Thor: Thorlief Golmen—or Thor Odinson as he now insists is his proper name—is an adult male who appears to be in excellent physical shape.
He experienced what was described by an inpatient mental health facility as a “full psychotic break” shortly after his thirtieth birthday and was institutionalized. Soon, he began to tell any and all that listened that he was the son of Odin, the ancient head of the Norse pantheon, and that he, as Thor, was a powerful force for good.
Regardless of this writer’s own feelings about the client’s claims, he has proven, at the least, to be that powerful force for good he promised. He has done this not just in his role as an Ultimate—in fact he’d say that such actions were those he was least proud of—but as a citizen pursuing justice and peace for the underprivileged. While admirable, these actions have proven and may continue to prove problematic for the United States in general and the public’s view of the Ultimates in specific.
Although still unclear, it is the opinion of this writer that the destruction of “Asgard” will weigh heavily on Thor. The Ultimates should be prepared for increased religiosity and erratic, angry behavior from him. Either, and certainly both, might make him a danger on the battle field, not a boon.
Dr. Humphries’s Notes: “Again, write a book about Thor, buy a yacht. A neo-hippie with an antiauthoritarian streak that is also convinced he is something of a god—or was something of a god. The destruction of Asgard and his family has unmoored Thor and made him unpredictable, and dangerous. A thunder god obsessed with concurrent delusions of grandeur and tragedy. Is anyone feeling safer yet?”
Hawkeye: Clint Barton appears to be an adult male of above average physical fitness. This writer is well aware that the client is very trusted by General Fury, but once more must voice my objection. He is volatile, lacks concern for his own life, and is clearly still reeling from murder of his family. To put him in the field in this condition could be a grave error.
Dr. Humphries’s Notes: “The man who never misses; a master of weapons who is often treated like a weapon himself. It must be difficult for Clint Barton to remember a time when he wasn't pointed at a problem and told to fire until it went away. One day he may wake up and decide to take initiative of his own. I recommend head-to-toe impact-resistant armor, helmets, and shields as standard issue for every S.H.I.E.L.D. agent—just in case.”
Black Widow: The client, Monica Chang, presents as a female in excellent physical condition. Chang has a prior romantic relationship with General Fury, one that ended in divorce after he chose to repeatedly engage in extramarital affairs. While both parties insist that this prior relationship has little impact on their current working one, they both showed a marked reservation to discuss their personal issues in session.
There is also the matter of the legacy of the Black Widow moniker. A previous Black Widow, after working years with Hawkeye, proved to be the murderer of his family. Chang’s insistence on not choosing a less inflammatory codename does lead to further questions about her willingness to cooperate with others in a team setting and to reconcile their wants and needs with her own. If she cannot even choose a new moniker out of respect for a teammate’s departed loved ones, it begs the question what would it take for her to be willing to alter her plans to help the team to perform as best as it can.
Dr. Humphries’s Notes: “It's not easy distinguishing yourself in an organization run by and defined by your ex-husband, especially with a bitter divorce in the mix. Monica has been training and watching—waiting for the moment to prove herself. The tension would snap the psyche of a lesser agent in half.”
Spider-Woman: The client refused to remove her mask in session with this writer, but judging by her voice and body type, appears to be in late adolescence and in excellent physical shape. Her name, Jessica Drew, is one she chose for herself as she was “born” a late adolescent girl, cloned from Spider-Man’s DNA.
She, like General Fury, will concede that Spider-Man’s death bothered her greatly, but, again like Fury, has shown little interest in discussing the matter with any depth. She appears too eager for a chance to be a full member of the Ultimates to make a difference and to honor the sacrifice of her “brother.”
Dr. Humphries’s Notes: “The youngest of the Ultimates and the most unstable. She's a clone of one of the most venerated super heroes of all time. Her relationship with the team and everything that comes with it is a giant question mark, but she's undoubtedly eager to jump into the action; an unpredictable combination.”
Captain Britain: Jamie Braddock presents as an adult male in excellent physical condition. He came across as distracted and short in session, anxious to be done with the interview and disinterested in the process.
For a time it seemed that Braddock was able to escape by donning the Captain Britain costume, but even that no longer seems to be the case. To have a member of the team join for escapist purposes and then that member stop enjoying even that intent is distressing. This writer does not see how much longer the Ultimates can afford to work with Braddock unless his disposition changes.
Dr. Humphries’s Notes: “A charming English exterior covers one of the most conflicted psyches on the team. He's got more family issues than the British royal family, and a beloved brother on death's door. The Captain Britain power suit represents an escape for Jamie, but one day he won't be able to outrun reality. I recommend condition: red contingency plans for when that day comes.”
Captain America: The client refused to sign any of the releases requested of him and therefore both my and Dr. Humphries’s Notes are confidential and cannot be disclosed at this time.
The Ultimates will have a fellow up session with Doctors Jonathan Hickman, Sam Humphries and Luke Ross on May 9. Details will be available that day in file ULTIMATE COMICS: ULTIMATES #10.
Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens is a Dialectical Behavior Therapy Consultant and Practicum Trainee at a community mental health center.