Comics Corner Issue #10
Welcome one and all to Comics Corner Issue #10 where this week we take our first look at The Ultimates, author Mark Millar’s reboot of classic ensemble The Avengers. Of course this series serves as a base for the forthcoming movie due in April but there’s a lot in the books which wont make it to the silver screen. Despite that, the universe that Millar and artist Bryan Hitch have created here is both vastly rich and beautiful. It also gives certain characters interesting little twist’s , presenting them in a light not seen before.
The Ultimates Vol 1: Super Human
March 2002 – April 2004
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Bryan Hitch
The first volume of The Ultimates set’s up what or rather “who” exactly The Ultimates are and how they came to be. The original line up of Iron Man, Giant Man, The Wasp, Thor, Bruce Banner and the recently re-discovered Captain America were hand picked by S.H.I.E.L.D big wig, General Nick Fury. This dream team were assembled as a preventive measure against forces, mere mortals are not equipped to deal with. However they’re existence is put under scrutiny by the public as they seem to be a rather expensive insurance policy which is neither needed or wanted. Although the series is centred around The Ultimates as a group Millar does a good job in his set-up volume to give each member enough solo time. Bruce Banner who currently has no more traces of the Hulk within him has become a somewhat emasculated shadow of himself. Jealous of Hank Pym (Giant Man’s) involvement with The Ultimates and broken by the way in which Betty Ross treats him, Banner is a weak structure on the verge of crumbling.
Pym on the other hand is overly confident, on the verge of being arrogant and cocky. Millar writes Pymn truly as the polar opposite to Banner, where Bruce pathetically pines after Betty Ross Pym is written as an egocentric wife beater. This angle could be seen as somewhat mean spirited but it certainly adds a heavier dynamic to the character and throws in a dramatic twist to the over arching storyline. Strangely enough it is these two characters which engaged me more in Vol 1, dont get me wrong it’s always good to see Cap, Thor and in particular Iron Man but there presented in a pretty straight forward manner.
Banner definetly is the key and the catalyst to Volume 1 as after hearing about Betty Ross being on a date with Freddie Prinze Jr of all people, loses his cool and injects himself with a hybrid of Hulk DNA and his attempts at the super soldier serum. The result is carnage on the streets of Manhattan causing mass destruction and the deaths of hundreds. Hulk’s outrage is clearly a travesty but his attack justify’s the existence of The Ultimates and has won them favour with the general public. It also shows that even a weak willed individual like Banner has pressure points that can cause S.H.I.E.L.D’s golden boys a whole lot of trouble.
Most of the writing in Vol 1 is up to Millar’s usual standards but there are some aspects which urked me a little. The now very dated references to en vogue celebrities, circa 2002 just seemed forced and pretty pointless. But in comparison even these dont really dent what is a pretty good set up book. However the jewel in Vol 1’s crown is easily Bryan Hitch’s art work. It’s smoothly executed, beautifully drawn and really helps New York pop off of the page (especially during the battle against Hulk). With a firm base laid down and some interesting threads to continue im looking forward to seeing where the story goes in the next volume. As always if you’ve been reading along, let me know what your thoughts on Super Human are. Even if you havent been reading along I’d love to know what it is you have been checking out and if you have any recommendations to share.
On that note comic fans whatever it is your reading enjoy and I shall see you here next week.