Comics / Comic Reviews / Marvel Comics

Ultimate Origins #1

By Zak Edwards
June 14, 2008 - 12:58

Sometimes these big, long-awaited series have some major problems.  First, they are only actually about seven panels long per issue, the last seven.  That is exactly what Ultimate Origins #1 is, the last seven panels.  Now, I’m sure the rest of the issue, i.e the other 117-ish panels, will prove to be somewhat important.  The problem is, the issue really is the last seven panels, which is just not worth the three dollars, even with the whole Canadian/American dollar thing.  It just feels like a rip-off, but a necessary rip-off, like a necktie or a belt for pants that will stay up anyway and no one will see unless you are reaching for said necktie on a top shelf.

Yes, a necessary evil, for Ultimate Origins is supposed to explain the back story for Ultimatum, the series that will forever change the Ultimate Marvel Universe.  Now, it has gone beyond cliche to say something in a comic book will forever change it, and it has also become more cliche for a solicitation to say something like, “Seriously, this will change the universe forever.”  So why pay attention to this overused statement with the Ultimate Universe?  Because the entire line, save for the ever-reliable Ultimate Spider-Man, is in desperate need of a shake-up.  The quality in the books has dropped and something, anything needs to happen.  So, why not, I guess, save the three dollars times five issues.  Perhaps their not exaggerating this time.

But enough on the issues surrounding Ultimate Origins and onto the actual issue.  Brian Bendis brings us the issue he has apparently been planning for years.  It opens with the scene that has graced the many advertising campaigns of Bruce Banner telling Spider-Man, “It’s all connected.”  He then lays the groundwork of a story spanning over fifty years, but for a story this long in the making, it doesn’t work very well.  Now don’t get me wrong, the ‘revelation’ of the last seven panels is really good, really good, and it lays the groundwork for some amazing stuff up ahead.  The rest of the issue is a slow plod to those panels through a series of individual scenes.  We have the reason for the need of a super-soldier explained, which is unnecessary for everyone knows it’s twofold: moral and winning.  A very bad mini-origin story for Nick Fury follows and it feels like one I have read word-for-word a hundred times before, like the issue needed filling out and therefore not much care was taken to create something original and worthwhile.  After this origin story for the Ultimate Nick Fury, it is then Bendis gives us the first of I’m guessing five revelations about the Ultimate Universe, let’s hope next issue is full of relevant rather then simply filler until the end.

Where Bendis drops the ball in the story, penciller Butch Guice picks up the slack.  While not particularly a joy to read, Ultimate Origins is nice to look at.  Guice’s moody shading works perfectly with a series focusing on secrets, keeping things in the dark.  The expression on his characters faces is great as well, with many contorted looks keeping far enough away from comedic to convey emotion.  My only complaint would have to be the difference in appearance for a few characters, Bruce Banner in particular.  Having grown fond of the hunched over, socially awkward looking Bruce Banner of Bryan Hitch, this noticeably more muscular version simply looks off.  But besides this, Guice’s pencils, with all their dark moodiness, are a great visual representation of the core theme of Ultimate Origins.

4/10    Seriously, the last seven panels are great.

Last Updated: May 19, 2020 - 12:25

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