Shonen Jump Volume 6, Number 9 (#69) cover
Shonen Jump Volume 6, Issue 9 (No. 69) is like previous issues of Shonen Jump, the North American version of the venerable Japanese manga compilation magazine, Weekly Shonen Jump – full of delights.
The focus of his review, however, is not on the usual Shonen Jump manga: Naruto, Bleach, Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, etc, but instead is on Ultimo, which recently debuted in Weekly Shonen Jump’s sister publication, Jump SQ. II. Ultimo is the creative team up of American comic book legend Stan Lee, the co-creator The Amazing Spider-Man and the X-Men (among others), and Hiroyuki Takei, the creator of the manga, Shaman King. VIZ Media bills Ultimo as “East is West” or “East meets West.”
What we get in Shonen Jump #69 is Ultimo’s prologue, and so far, it seems more East than West. Stan Lee created the “original concept” with Hiroyuki Takei writing the story and producing the art with his staff. Ultimo seems more like something Takei would develop than something from Lee’s mind, but maybe this new venture for Lee and his company, POW!, is meant to surprise us about Lee.
Ultimo seems a bit anachronistic, unglued when it comes to establishing the eras in which the story takes place. Apparently in the world of Ultimo, a mysterious figure named Dr. Dunstan (who looks like Stan Lee) created two “mechanical boys.” Mechanical Boy Ultimo is perfect good, and Mechanical Boy Vice is perfect evil. One thousand years after their creation, Vice attacks Farmless City in West Tokyo and Ultimo comes to the rescue in what turns out to be a fiery fight over the city.
This prologue of Ultimo doesn’t really offer enough to evaluate it, except to say that the dialogue and exposition are awkward and clunky enough to seem like the work of an amateur rather than a seasoned veteran. Ultimo and Vice fight each other using gauntlets that can grow so large that they look like giant robots. In fact, Ultimo seems like a blend of Japanese giant robots (mecha), Dragon Ball, and Green Lantern. I’m too intrigued to be disappointed by what I read. Stan Lee’s best work was created when he riffed off unique and powerfully imaginative creators (Jack Kirby and Stan Lee), so I’m curious to see what this combo of Lee and a manga-ka like Takei can do.