Thursday, August 25, 2011

Review: The Ultimates #1

The Ultimates #1
Jonathan Hickman (w), Esad Ribic (a)

The Ultimate universe is starting over, sort of?  Well, not really starting over, but maybe it's a new direction?  I'm not too sure, I haven't kept up with The Ultimate universe in a good long while.  From what we've got in here, it doesn't really look like a new direction.  We've got more of the same world crises that only a worldwide force of Superheroes led by the biggest, best team of American Superheroes (read: The Ultimates) can face, we've got Nick Fury multi-tasking with the fate of the world at his no-nonsense fingertips, we've got Tony Stark being a cavalier party-boy throwing rich kid quips as freely as he throws back champagne bottles and dollar bills, and we've got Thor in the center of a superhuman bar fight.  Oh, and where is Captain America?  (Seriously, though, I don't know what's up with Ultimate Cap, and as far as I can tell, Nick Fury doesn't either.  I'm not sure if this was a plot point from previous Ultimate Universe stories or if this is going to be one of the mysteries that Nick Fury's going to tangle with in this first arc, but I do want to know what's up with the dude who takes up the biggest chunk of cover space.)

Nothing too new or exciting, but it's that entertaining flavor we feel safe with coming from a book like The Ultimates.

Now, I'd have no problem writing off the book right here and moving on, but the problem with that is that Jonathan Hickman is leading this run of The Ultimates, and this man has earned the benefit of the doubt in my book.  Really, the thing that I enjoyed most from this book was the most Hickman-esque scifi first page.  We have a bunch of unidentified superhuman-types standing around in the desert talking about building, and a giant dome appears out of nowhere while someone goes on about the disappointment of creation.  Great.  Amazing.  Sign me up.  I want to know more.  The problem comes with everything after that first page.  It's not much different from the all-out action and dancing around arm-chair politics that Mark Millar so deftly constructed in the first two volumes of The Ultimates, and that stuff was really cool and exciting and probably the best action movie I've ever read, but we live in a post-Ultimates, post-Authority world where that blend of politics and action has become standard practice.  It's not that it's a bad way to go about writing a comic, it's just that it's all been done before.

I mean, yes, most things in superhero comics have been done before, but this is a new first issue that Marvel has been building up as a new direction or a new beginning for the Ultimate Marvel Universe.  Why not actually take a new direction and find a different approach for The Ultimates?  I mean if anyone can do it, Jonathan Hickman can, and that first page did give me some hope that we'd be seeing some new, different Ultimates stories, and yes, I understand that this is a first issue and Hickman probably needs some space to let his story grow and develop and all that, but we've been getting years of this stuff, haven't we?  Isn't it time we get something new?  As a lapsed Ultimates reader I was disappointed that this Universe that had prided itself on change and progressive storytelling was pretty much exactly in the same state that I'd left it in, but I'm a fan enough of the creative teams behind this Ultimate Universe revival that I'll indulge my hopeful curiosity.

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