I just wanted to toss out a really quick plug. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the line-altering mini-series “Ultimatum.” This was the mini-series to completely re-vamp Marvel’s Ultimate line of comics. This past Wednesday, the re-boots hit the stands. Once a line of four titles, there are now only two: “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” and “Ultimate Comics Avengers.” Woo-doggie is all I have to say about the first issues.
“Ultimate Comics Avengers” was the first I read. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of the original title “The Ultimates” during the Jeph Loeb six issue run. It was basically a main-line Marvel book with the cast of an Ultimate book and radical change of pace from the political heavy first 26 issues, written by Mark Millar. Well, Millar’s back and really settles back in where he left off. It is definitely more of a super-hero book than what Millar had done with the book during his initial run. Plenty of all out action, as well as some good one-liners. It also has the art of Carlos Pacheco, whose first page on the book establish him as the right man for the job. During Millar’s initial run, artist Brian Hitch was the artist for the book. Hitch is one of my personal favorite artists, who has a knack for realistic movement and expressions, but his images seem to move slower than most artist do. Luckily, it was in perfect sync with what Millar was writing. Loeb had Joe Madureira, who was a perfect fit for what he did for the book, but a total 180 from the look of Hitch. Pacheco seems to be the middle ground of these two, with great action sequences as well as having the ability to capture realistic human emotion.
The real hook though of this book is the villain, the debut of the Ultimate version of the Red Skull. The Red Skull is Captain America’s nemesis and a HUGE Nazi. Millar has taken a new approach to Red Skull that already has set-up great story potential. I won’t spoil it here, but let’s just say that Millar has tweaked the origin of Red Skull a tad bit. He’s still a HUGE Nazi though.
On the other end of it, we have “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man.” Several times I have stated that Spider-Man is my favorite comic book character, so any interpretation of him, I will at least check out. I even read the ho-hum “Spider-Man India” that came out a few years ago. So I knew I would be checking this out. Brian Michael Bendis is still on the title, just short of ten years since it first launched. This may be Bendis’ opus, if only for the sheer size of it. But more so, it has just always been quality work. Bendis, while having a misstep a few times with some stories that didn’t really have much impact, has always done the characters the same. Their voices have never changed in the span of the book, even as the circumstance continually change and fluctuate. But hands down, the best artist on the book has been Mark Bagley, who helped make the words of Bendis have the power and feeling needed. To be fair, there has only been one other artist on “Ultimate Spider-Man” (Stuart Immonen), but he really doesn’t hold a candle to the pencil of Bagley. Bagley is one of the top artists working today, as well as one of the fastest, having just finished up the book “Trinity” over at DC, a weekly, year-long book. But the new artist is nipping at his heels. David LaFuente made his mark on Ultimate Spider-Man this past year with his work on “Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #3.” While good, he wouldn’t have been my first choice to take over on the book. But my concerns were dealt with following my reading of the new issue. He is in the same vein as Bagley, but is also in the camp of up-and-coming artists that grew up on Japanese comics as well as the American mainstream. The first issue was well done, but I’m gonna give him til the first arc before I know what he’s fully capable of.
A lot has changed in the world of Peter Parker. Six months after the devastation of “Ultimatum,” New York is finally back open for business. There is also quite a shift in status quo. In the previews of this book, Marvel was trying to hint that Peter may die in “Ultimatum” by saying that everything in the relaunch is new “maybe even a new Spider-Man?” While this has been proven to be wrong, there is still a few masked men mysteries. There is the re-appearance of Ultimate Mysterio (a classic Spidey villain who uses illusions to try and defeat Spider-Man), who is ruthless, and a red hooded new hero, whose methods are a tad more violent than young Mr. Parker. Toss in an appearance from Johnny Storm and the Kingpin, as well as some shake-ups in the Parker home, and this is a great new start to the line.
“Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1” and “Ultimate Comics Avengers #1” are in stores now.
Images copyright Marvel