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The first volume
This may sound odd, but this is my favourite superhero comic ever written. While I acknowledge that works such as Watchmen are superior artistically, I think the first volume of The Ultimates is just more fun. This, in my opinion, is what modern comics should be like- mixing the fun action of older comics with the self-awareness and depth gained from the Deconstruction of the last few decades.

The characters are new versions of classic Marvel heroes- Captain America is having difficulty adjusting to the modern world, Thor is a new age guru who may very well be insane, the Hulk is the living embodiment of Bruce Banner's dark side, and so on. While many of the characters do act like Jerk Asses at times, for the most part, they have understandable reasons for this behavior and are generally sympathetic (Except Hank Pym. What an asshole!).

But the characters are only as good as the writing, and Mark Millar does a wonderful job of telling the story. The tale begins in the last days of World War II, where Captain America falls in battle destroying a Nazi superweapon. From there, we pick up in the early 2000s, where the US government is attempting to form a superhero team to defend it from new threats, specifically supervillains. Cap is discovered frozen in the ocean, they wake him up, one thing leads to another, and our heroes ultimately end up fighting an alien invasion. After nearly killing each other in the process.

Speaking of the writing, the dialogue is lively and frequently hilarious. I'm a Francophile, yet this comic actually made me laugh with a 'France surrendering' joke. I think that says something right there.

Finally, the art. Bryan Hitch delivers some of the most awe-inspiring visuals in comics history. You really feel like you're actually there- it's like an action movie on IMAX in comic book form. I know that's hyperbole, but I really can't get enough of the art in this book.

So, I really liked this comic. Where other comics strive to be mindlessly Darker And Edgier, the Ultimates does both, without sacrificing any intelligence or maturity in the process. Sadly, the series (and the Ultimate Marvel brand in general) went horribly downhill in its later years, but this series stands as a testament to what the imprint should have been.

And Nick Fury is a total Bad Ass.
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