Plot: 'The Ultimate Man Monster' comes to 'The Ultimate Technologically Enhanced Man' for a cure.
Commentary: It’s a simple idea on the surface and the covers to the first two issues make it out to be just another super-powered battle, but Warren Ellis takes this simplistic premise and weaves it into something old school but refreshing at the same time. Isn’t that what the Ultimate Universe was intended to do? Give us refreshing visions of our favorite characters for a new generation. Most of the books in the Ultimate line started out that way and some have floundered off that path into mediocrity but Ellis brings the magic back with the first issue of this mini-series. Ellis is just a darn good writer. He’s a thinker and brings the super-science elements and distinctive personalities of Tony Stark and Bruce Banner to the fore in this tale. This is a story that very well could have happened in the mainstream Marvel Universe but never did. Oh sure, they’ve duked it out ad nausea in the original Marvel Universe but to my recollection there’s never been as much thoughtfulness and excitement put around how these two characters work and would operate in the ‘real world’.
Stark’s a success in every facet of his life accept his battle with alcohol. As a matter of fact it doesn’t seem in the Ultimate Universe Stark does much battling with alcohol at all. He’s self-assured and confident. Enter Bruce Banner his polar opposite; possessed of a genius intellect yet a loser in every other sense of the word. Ellis brings out Bruce’s desperation and Tony’s opportunism in a realistic dialogue sequence. No overblown and flowery comic book speeches; just one brilliant man appealing to the ability and vanity of another. Stark ultimately concedes to help Banner do what no one else could possibly do. All the while Stark and Banner are being monitored from afar by a re-imagined version of a classic Hulk villain and someone who by all clues is destined to become the Ultimate version of another classic Hulk villain. Here’s a hint, one’s all brains and one’s all brawn. Ellis not only brilliantly juxtaposes Stark against Banner but juxtaposes again with these two villains of the piece. While Stark and Banner could well be each other if their life circumstances had been reversed these other two are their evil twins in the making.
The term 'Ultimate Human' describes both Banner and Stark but it also describes what the villains of this show are after; combining the blood of Tony and Bruce for the ultimate serum to create a new version of ‘The Ultimate Human’. I have my guesses as to what the outcome of all this will be and considering the announcement of the villain for the new Hulk movie this year, I’m 99% certain of who will be smashing through the pages of this mini in a couple of issues. Ellis’s deft writing is coupled with Cary Nord’s savage pencils and Dave Stewarts somber colors. It’s a desperate tale and these two artists bring all that tension to the fore. Nord is very good at facial expressions and his Hulk is monstrous and sardonic at the same time. This mini has started out to be something major in my book.
Final Word: Top notch writing and art make this mini not just another passerby but what looks to be a shiny gem in the Ultimate Universe. Pick it up, it’s not just a mindless slug-fest.
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