I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got 1 new comic plus a hard cover collection:

  • Buffy Season Eight – 12
  • “Red Prophet: Tales of Alvin Maker Vol. 2”
  • And now for a review of something I’ve read this week.

  • “The Ultimates Volume 1” by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch
  • Did this really come out in 2002? Has it been that long? Yes it was and yes it has. I read the first five or so issues of this when it originally came out but this is the first time I’ve read the whole thing. Back then I found it to be alternately good and then a train wreck. I still hold that opinion having finally read the whole thing.

    The good: first of all the art is top shelf super-hero stuff. From the pencilling to the inking to the coloring to the lettering everybody was talented and bringing their A game. Bryan Hitch does an excellent job bringing a verisimilitude to the world of the Ultimates that makes the reader want to believe everything is really happening.

    The writing also has it’s strong points with snappy dialogue, some plot twists, and powerful moments but it is the writing that is also the train wreck. “The Ultimates” falls into what I call the “cool moment” style of writing. A lot of the plot revolves around a cool moment that is usually a reveal of some kind. Unfortunately to really succeed with the cool moment it has to be preceded buy a bunch of dull moments. So we get a lot of pages of the characters standing around talking in a not very interesting way and then, bam, a splash page of something cool happening. The cool part usually works but at the price of the dull parts.

    But the parts of the book that are really a train wreck are when the writer and artist compromise the reality the are trying to create. Such as when the Wasp criticizes Giant Man’s costume as not having a good (or any) designer. Clearly Bryan Hitch spent a lot of time designing the Giant Man costume. It’s a complicated, layered, though out, and nice design. That costume was used in a lot of the Ultimates ads because it was well done and original. Yet here the writer insults it for being poorly designed. Truly a disconnect.

    Another costume related disconnect is Hawkeye and the Black Widow. They are the undercover black ops branch of the Ultimates. But there the are on there way to a mission walking down the streets of Manhattan clad in black leather from head to toe. I’ve walked down many a Manhattan street and that is not an outfit for undercover work. Very few people work in S & M leather bars.

    I could go on and on with examples of the writer and artist undermining the reality they’ve tried to create but I’ve had enough. Maybe it’s because lately I’ve been reading a lot of Jack Kirby’s very imaginative work but I found a lack of imagination in “The Ultimates”. It’s hard to compete with Kirby’s imagination I know but with a little more of it “The Ultimates” could have been much better.

    “The Ultimates” is not a bad book by any stretch of the imagination and the “cool moments” parts really do work but expect some “what the hell?” moments too. If you only have to pay fifteen bucks for the whole series it’s worth a read. I have volume two to read now. Maybe later.