Reviews: The Ultimates

Ultimate Avengers Volume 1

I've always liked exploring the alternate universes of comics if the premise sounds interesting. Ultimate Marvel never drew me in because it's not interesting. It's just a weaker, Darker And Edgier version of the main Marvel Universe made of poor writing and worse storytelling. But, the Ultimate Avengers really drew me in. Let's look at the team:

Gregory Stark: Smart, sophisticated, professional, snarky as hell, and a tetotaler, he's pretty much the inverse of Tony. This is the guy who would make an ideal villain for Tony to fight, and because of that, it just shows off how much different the Ultimate Avengers are.

Warmachine: At first glance, you'd think it's Stane, given that his suit looks like somthing that would put the Iron Monger to shame. And this is exactly what the MU Warmachine has needed for so long: an actual difference between it and Iron Man. Usually, the difference is a minigun and a rocket-launcher. Rhodes's soldier attitude provides a stark contrast to most of the others, and really makes him stand out. I hope Marvel does more Warmachine like this.

Hawkeye: Wow. Just wow. I've never liked Hawkeye much, mostly because of his stupid trick arrows, but Ultimate!Hawkeye is so awesome it's insane. His lask of remorse coupled with his calm attitude and killing skills make his character very appealing. And he doesn't use those retarded trick arrows.

Nerd Hulk: Ugh... No, I don't hate him for being a clone of Hulk with Bruce's brain. Just the fact that he's so useless it's just ridiculous. Seriously, this guy could be a major-league lightning bruiser, but nobody else sees this. Man, what wasted potential... One can only hope he becomes more badass in the future...

Red Wasp: Now, if you're thinking "What good is shrinking and flying around for a black-ops team?" you NEED to pick up the first issue of this series. Because I thought the same thing at first, and now I'm eating my words. Like Hawkeye, a zen killer on the surface, but very conflicted inside. Evil, yet sympathetic. Sounds bad, but it works.

Well, the team is solid, and so is this first volume! Red Skull's origins is pretty intersting, and even makes him sympathetic in the end. The action is pretty good as well, and overall, exudes badass and awesome. I hope Marvel doesn't f*ck this up for us, but who am I kidding? Nobody does it better than Marvel.

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.