Current Reviews


newuniversal #6

Posted: Monday, May 28, 2007
By: Thom Young

Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Salvador Larroca

Publisher: Marvel Comics

I gave the first issue of this series four bullets when I reviewed it, so one would think that I must like this current issue just as much as the first issue. However, that’s not necessarily true. My four-bullet rating is really more for the series in general rather than issue #6 in particular.

What became painfully obvious to me as I read this latest chapter is that the story really needs to be read in one collected graphic novel. Perhaps my brain is just getting too old, but the month or more between issues is too long for me to keep the story elements in mind from issue to issue—despite the synopsis that’s provided on the first page of each new installment.

For one thing, the social, political, and personal aspects of the story are getting too involved for a five-sentence synopsis to cover. Instead, we get a summary of the “big events” rather than a listing of all the small details—and the devil is in the details.

I’m thoroughly enjoying this series, and I look forward to each new issue. Still, I can’t recommend that new readers give the current issue a shot to see if they like it and want to pick up the back issues, also because my favorite plot thread wasn’t in it—the archeologists exploring the lost city they found.

If you haven’t been following the story since the fist issue, then this issue will seem too boring and clichéd to make you consider trying the earlier issues. Boring because nothing much happens.

It begins with two characters teleporting into a bedroom and talking while one of them gets sick. Then, two other characters talk in an office about going to Washington to brief the President. Next, the detective who was killed and resurrected (Justice) kills a street-full of people because they’ve all done something cruel at some point in their lives.

Additionally, three characters talk during a Presidential advisory meeting (one of the two men from the office I mentioned earlier). Next, a newscast voiceover mentions the nuclear explosion that occurred in the mountains of Oklahoma last issue (mountains of Oklahoma?) and then mentions all the people who were killed in the street earlier in this issue.

Finally, another character crawls inside an armored battle suit, determines that it works and cries because it will be used to hunt her down. Notice that I didn’t refer to any of those characters by name (except for “Justice”). I could have looked them up, but the point is that none of them are memorable enough yet (after six issues). Actually, I believe the kid getting sick in the bedroom is named Connell, and the man who was sent to advise the President is named Phil Voight—but I’d have to double check to be sure.

I’m actually fine with not much happening in terms of action because this chapter is a set up for action that will be coming in subsequent chapters. I understand how novels are paced—or, in other words, I’m fine with “boring” action since I find ideas can often be more interesting if done right.

However, I’m not so fine with the clichéd part of this story. In the Presidential advisory meeting, General Ross and the man from the NSA (Phil Voight) both advise the President (Hilary Clinton?) that the super-powered beings created by the White Event need to be killed--but they disagree on the method to be used.

So, you ask, why do I remember General Ross? I believe he’s the newuniveral’s parallel version of General Thunderbolt Ross from the Hulk mythos, and I believe other characters that parallel established Marvel characters have been seen in earlier issues.

Anyway, General Ross wants to obliterate the super-powered beings with nuclear weapons. However, the NSA man wants to quietly assassinate them in order to not draw the attention of the public and tip-off the super beings about the government’s plans.

However, this Presidential advisory meeting is where the clichéd part comes in. According to General Ross and the NSA man, the reason the super beings need to be eliminated is because they might breed. The result could be a new evolutionary step that will eventually replace homo sapiens.

Gee, that sounds familiar. It’s the X-Men all over again. I’ve always thought that the logic of the government (or Trask) trying to eliminate the X-Men on an Earth populated by other super-powered people who aren’t mutants makes absolutely no sense.

Here, though, it might make sense to a degree (after all, society does tend to hate people who are different and who frighten us in some way). However, it would make more sense for the government to try to control these people and use them as “secret weapons” rather than kill them.

Oh wait, that’s also already been done—in a little thing that Alan Moore wrote called The Watchmen (as well as by sub par imitations of The Watchmen). Oh well. I really do like this series. However, I wish Ellis had found something original to use as the motivation behind the impending conflict.

The story is a good read as it is, but it will be better as a collected graphic novel—and even better if Ellis can avoid too many clichés along the way. Still, it’s tightly plotted and has good dialog—and those aspects in and of themselves are always refreshing to see in a mainstream comic book regardless of what minor flaws might be evident.

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