Comics / Comic Reviews / Marvel Comics

Ultimate Avengers vs. New Ultimates #1

By Zak Edwards
March 1, 2011 - 22:16

Who could have possibly guessed Mark Millar could turn the lowest point of his work in the Ultimate Marvel universe into the smartest comic series for Ultimate Marvel since, well, Ultimates 2?  I was absolutely blown away Millar could take a story culminating in an attack on S.H.I.E.L.D by super-powered vamires and turn it into a political and intelligent continuation of The Ultimates.  As per usual, Captain America’s ignorance and “quick-thinking” have joined together into a fairly unique problem: S.H.I.E.L.D was teleported to Iran to kill the vampires with good, old-fashioned sunlight.  Of course, Iran doesn’t take to kindly to the “ultimate symbol of American power” landing in their desert, and have considered the accident, quite reasonably, an act of war.  These are actual good ideas coming from the stupidest moment in Millar’s long history of gross excess.  Whereas Millar mostly likes to, as a friend of mine put it, “Smash action figures together until no one can use them,” these few Ultimate Avengers stories have been, quite simply, silly.  But it seems now Millar may be onto something, and I wait eagerly for the next issue of his work.  Combined with Jonathon Hickman’s recent Ultimate Thor miniseries and Jason Aaron’s Ultimate Captain America miniseries, and the continued excellency of Ultimate Spider-Man, Marvel’s Ultimate Universe is actually something to be excited about again!

As I’ve said, Millar has turned this book back into a political examination of the superhero in contemporary times, examining the underside of maintaining American democracy and the need for economic and militant superiority, sometimes referred to as structural or systemic violence.  Millar continues to challenge the goodness of his heroes, with great moments like Hank Pym’s “Oh yeah, I never thought of that” driving home one of his many problems outside of his extreme masculine inferiority complex.  Issues of a superhuman arms race continue as well, with international smuggling of superhuman test subjects becoming an issue.  Millar uses his unusual combination of obviousness and subtlety to examine the issues of the arms race, with the superhuman test subject, blind and dying as Captain America and Thor intercept the human trafficking operation, talking about Steve Rogers as his inspiration to sacrifice his life for American technological advancements.  A truly frightening moment.  But even at one issue in, all the elements that made The Ultimates so great, and the very same things that made so many fans angry, exist here in brilliant form.  Millar has finally bounced back and, as long as he doesn’t derail himself again, I wait anxiously to see where this goes.

And Leinil Yu’s art continues to be a wonderful choice for Millar’s work.  I found the art choice for the last arc, Preacher’s Steve Dillon, an interesting and very appropriate choice.  But Yu is perfect for this story, his grittier-styled artwork, combined with Sunny Gho’s amazing colouring, works so well.  But Yu’s art hasn’t disappointed me to my knowledge, if you have ever liked his work, he offers a fairly high degree of consistency.  Barring Carol Danvers, the person in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D, looking about fifteen years old, Yu’s characters continue to look like real people.  But what really stood out this issue for me was the design of the failed super-soldier.  Blind, with strange mixtures of biological and mechanical apparatuses covering his deformed body, the horrific character really emphasizes the horrors of the arms race, especially on the people involved.  Terrific work and I look forward to more of this series.

Grade: A    A return to Ultimates quality, I am astounded.

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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