“Reboot? Relaunch? Do you think this ‘A’ on my head stands for DC?”
With The Ultimates #1, Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic kick off the new Ultimate Comics line and mark the dawn of a new era in the Ultimate Universe. After the events that transpired prior to and in Ultimate Fallout, Earth-1610 is in a state of disarray. We lost Spider-Man, Captain America gave up, all of the mutants are in hiding to avoid being put in government-run concentration camps, the EUSS has re-initiated its super-soldiers program and many parts of the world were left on the brink of war. With all of this happening — and with a recent drastically reduced budget — how can both S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Ultimates continue saving the world?
We get some interesting characterizations of these characters in the issue, as well. When we get to Tony Stark, he is at a party in Tokyo — flirting with a woman while trying to ignore his new assistant — rather than with Fury’s advance team in Montevideo, ready to stop a war from breaking out. After his assistant makes a comment regarding the woman Tony was flirting with as having “rather inconveniently misplaced her ankles,” Tony makes a rather boyish remark about “dating women who actually eat” this year. When they get to the car, Tony calls up Nick Fury and asks how he slept. It seems that the Robert Downey Jr. Tony Stark has seeped into Marvel’s Ultimate Universe just a bit. And Nick Fury is constantly juggling his emotions between cool & calculated and Samuel L. Jackson in Snakes on a Plane.
By the end of the issue, the world all but crumbles to the many conflicts spanning the globe. Hawkeye is lost while in Asia, a pretty big plot device (some might call it a bomb) goes off in the Uruguay situation and one of Captain Britain’s super-soldiers is taken by the dome in Germany — which the reader knows to be a construct of Reed Richards and his new team from Ultimate Comics #4. All of this happens at once and Nick Fury & S.H.I.E.L.D. are watching the whole thing. The Ultimates are crumbling right before the world’s eyes. When the President asks Fury what he is going to do about everything, the story ends with a very loaded “I don’t know” from Fury. To say the story ends with a bang is an understatement.
Nick Boisson grew up on television, Woody Allen, video games, Hardy Boys mysteries and DC comic books, with the occasional Spider-Man issue thrown in for good measure. He currently roams the rainy streets of Miami, Florida, looking for a nice tie, a woman that gets him, and the windbreaker he lost when he was eight. He sometimes writes things down on Twitter as @nitroslick.
Considering that it’s Sunday, and the Wednesday release we’re reviewing here has already made plenty of waves across the comics Internet, there’s little chance that the sentence I’m about to write will be news to you. But before you dismiss me as a mere latecomer to the party, I ask you to consider my words as confirmation that everything good you’ve heard so far about the book in question is true. With a new #1 issue written by Jonathan Hickman and drawn by Esad Ribic, the Ultimates are most assuredly back.
Mind you, though, this is no mere second helping of Millar, whose original work was as much a new take on the Avengers franchise as it was a spoof of the Bush administration’s foreign interventionism. Hickman’s tale here is polit
ical, yes, but it’s more West Wing than Fahrenheit 9/11. He places Nick Fury, once again in charge of the US’s superhuman arsenal, at the helm of a bustling S.H.I.E.L.D. command center, deploying forces to defuse numerous tense situations across the planet. All throughout, Hickman displays a mastery of the book’s whip-crack pace, escalating the story’s parallel conflicts in systematic rapid-fire succession.
As DC Comics prepares for a drastic relaunch of its entire line, Marvel has published a single issue that has perfectly achieved its competition’s lofty creative goals. Hickman and Ribic’s The Ultimates is an immediately arresting read that deserves to be placed into the hands of the superhero-hungry theater audiences who have descended en masse upon recent Marvel Studios films. The question isn’t whether you should buy a copy for yourself but, rather, how many of your friends you should grab a copy for as well.
Raised on a steady diet of Super Powers action figures and Adam West Batman reruns, Chris Kiser now writes for Comics Bulletin and can be found on Twitter as @Chris_Kiser. He’s currently in the midst of reading and reviewing every tie-in to a major DC Comics summer event and regretting every second of it.
Credit must be given for writer Jonathan Hickman’s ultimate balancing act.
First, the freakishly awesome Fantastic Four-turned-Future Foundation, Secret Warriors, and S.H.I.E.L.D. writer must incorporate the impending nature of The Avengers movie into this brand new line of The Ultimates — because it’s editorially-mandated, duh. Second, he must compile, serve and make sense of a gazillion subplots from the Ultimate Fallout mini (from three separate writers, mind you); how can Hickman incorporate the Ultimate X-Men, the Ultimate Future Foundation (yup, already), next week’s Ultimate Hawkeye, and, of course, the result of Ultimate Spidey’s death? Not any luckier, Hickman must also carry the consequences from Mark Millar’s run from both the original Ultimates and Ultimates 2, and the civil warring damage that was Ultimate Comics Avengers vs. New Ultimates.
Got all that?
Hickman’s never that predictable, thankfully.
So, despite The Ultimates debut issue not causing quite the bombastic ruckus many readers have expected from the new leader of the “House of Ideas,” the simpler oh-shit-there-goes-everything approach is enough to set things off. It’s not quite the lived-up classic, with the cute white poly bag, and extraordinary Avengers film-inspired cover art, but it’s no disappointment, either.
Travis Moody has gone through more phases than Paris Hilton has gone through tan lines; or apropos, more phases than variations of Batman titles. Hip-hop critic. MMA fighter. Furniture mover. Screenwriter. Hollywood bouncer. This guy puts Dean Malenko to shame, or perhaps, only Hayden Christensen. Nonetheless, this all-too-positive “Loose Cannon” (as monikered from various music and film review sites) newfound phase is simply, comics. And it’s going on three years strong. After blowing the lot of his savings on graphic novels and stupid “collectible” figurines, Travis decided to leave it all alone in Boston and head to his next destiny: Hollywood, California.