Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Ultimates, Volume 1: Super-Human -- Mark Millar

I continue dipping my toe into Marvel's Ultimate Universe with this collection. And toe-dipping is all it'll ever be, because as an old geezer my allegiance is to the original Marvel Universe (I was a card-carrying member of the M.M.M.S., after all) and I don't have the time, the money, or the inclination to turn into a full-fledged reader of this rebooted continuity. Though I'll give Marvel a considerable amount of credit for making it an alternate version and not just jettisoning decades of continuity like they could have.

Anyway, the Ultimates. This is the U.U.'s version of the Avengers, with the same core membership: Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man (or Giant-Man, as he becomes almost immediately) and the Wasp. And the Hulk is around, too. But all of these characters, while they have the same civilian identities and the same basic powers, are different in many ways, too. Captain America shows up quickly (indeed, the first issue is taken up mainly by a World War II flashback) and is probably the closest to the Marvel Universe version, although his reintroduction to the world is considerably different. All of this is supposed to be more modern than the original Marvel Universe, which seems to mean that it's raunchier, more violent, and more cynical.

Bryan Hitch's artwork on these stories is nothing less than spectacular. The splash pages are very impressive, and the World War II scenes are especially good. On the other hand, I'm less fond of the story by Mark Millar. Technically, the scripts are well-written and flow very well, and the dialogue is fine. And since this is supposed to be a rebooted, alternate version, I guess I really shouldn't complain that things were changed. Of course they were. That's the whole point. With some exceptions here and there, though, it just doesn't work as well for me. So be it.

I still have the second volume of THE ULTIMATES to read, and an Ultimate Universe version of Daredevil and Elektra. I've read the first two volumes of ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN (liked them better than I expected to) and the first volume of ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR (didn't like it, good art again but didn't care for the story). That'll probably do it for me. It's been an interesting and sometimes entertaining visit, but I don't think I'd want to live there.

1 comment:

Heath said...

I actually enjoyed those first three or four volumes of The Ultimates, but it didn't take long for it to fall apart. The powers-that-be at Marvel decided they had to slaughter half of the Ultimate universe in a big cross-over called Ultimatum, and they were never able to pick up the pieces after that. A shame...