Comic Fodder

Dana's Comic Book Reviews for Marvel

THE ULTIMATES 3 #1

By Jeph Loeb, Joe Madureira and Christian Lichtner

The Ultimates has been one of my favorite titles for years, and I’ve actually reread the previous two volumes a number of times. For me, I think they truly exemplify the perfect marriage of writer and artist. No better team could have been chosen to tackle the Ultimate version of The Avengers than Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch. So when I heard neither was onboard for the third volume, I was more than a little concerned. Actually, I was quite skeptical. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the majority of Jeph Loeb’s run on Superman/Batman. He’s very adept in his writing, and you can always trust that there’s a purpose behind what happens on the page. But we all have those books that have completely lost their luster once they changed hands. It can be very, very frustrating. And though this is definitely not Millar’s (or Hitch’s) Ultimates, the title works – sort of.

The first few pages of the book were a bit abrupt and confusing. I’m not quite sure when this installment actually takes place. It feels like it should be relatively soon after the events of volume two – what with the sex tape scandal and all – but the change in roster (and uniforms) makes it appear to be long after. I mean, when did Black Panther come into the fold? Or Valkyrie become super-powered (last time I checked, she was just a teenager with heroic aspirations)? And why is Wasp wearing a mask (or have wings when she’s average size)? Or Scarlet Witch donning her Marvel incarnation’s headpiece? Hey, I’m all for mixing it up but I’d like at least a rhyme or a reason for why it happens. With this amount of changes, I found myself flipping back and forth between pages in search of information I must’ve overlooked which inevitably stalled my read. This is a shame since the book kind of gets its footing a number of pages in.

About a quarter of the way through the issue, the storytelling takes a drastic shift. It moves from puzzling to pretty straight forward. We’re basically spoon-fed information that was only hinted upon in the other volumes. Depending on your taste, you may appreciate this tactic. I’m not a huge fan of this. When a writer opts for this line of attack, the dialogue tends to lean towards stilted, and events become implausible (even for a superhero book). And if this issue would’ve begun in the same vein, I’d have been a bit more forgiving.

The art was good but lent itself to the overall confusion. Some of the pages had so much going on that I wasn’t sure where characters came from or what I was to be looking at. Also, I’m not sure I was all that keen on the re-imagining of the uniforms. The Ultimate line was created to have a more reality-based slant to super hero comics. This should be in both storytelling and art. The new costumes just don’t fit this world. C’mon, can you really see someone wearing some of it?

I almost like Loeb’s approach to the title, and the characters he chooses to highlight. But something seems slightly off. And though he obviously knows where the story is headed, I think he forgets that we don’t. I can only assume that issue two will answer a number of questions that should never have sprung up in this first installment. It’s great to leave us dangling and wanting more but not going “huh?” All in all, this is a slightly good issue with a certain amount of promise. But if you’re looking for the spark of Millar and Hitch, I have to say pass. Wow, guess I didn’t like it as much as I thought…

ULTIMATE X-MEN #88

By Robert Kirkman, Yanick Paquette and Salvador Larroca

There’s something that’s been really bothering me about the full line of Ultimate titles. As I mentioned in the above review, these books were to be a re-imagining of super heroes in the real world. Lately, I just haven’t seen it. Most every title is pretty much standard fare. Pick up any superhero book out there, and these titles pretty much sit on a par with them. There seems to be nothing concerning the real world anymore. And Ultimate X-Men is on the top.

When Robert Kirkman took over Ultimate X-Men, I had no real opinion, one way or the other. I wasn’t all that familiar with his work, and never noticed a change in quality when he took the reins. Hell, I quite enjoyed the Magician story arc. But over time, something happened. Issue by issue, month by month, the storytelling got less and less memorable. And looking back, it just appears he had no clear idea of where he wanted to take this book. Things now seem to have happened just for the sake of having them happen. Then when the team was disbanded with a new one formed, the book became a complete mess and has no semblance of the life and fun of beginning issues.

For my money, I’d pass.


QUICK TAKES


AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE ANNUAL #1

By Dan Slott, Christos Gage, Salvador Larroca, Clayton Henry, Steve Uy, etc…

Annuals can be pretty hit or miss. You pay a dollar more for some additional pages but rarely are they worth it. With this annual, we’re given five origin stories. And most of them are pretty good. Some of the art leaves a little to be desired but the issue as a whole works. The one in particular that I truly liked and made the price paid well worth it was the story concerning MVP. Everything that has been happening with this character in the pages of the regular issues has been great. This small backup story might be gravy, but a rich one at that. Pick this issue up!

THE TWELVE #0

By J. Michael Straczynski and Chris Weston

This issues isn’t a must have but a nice start to what should be an excellent title. We’re given a few stories from the early 40’s of three long forgotten heroes: Rockman, The Laughing Mask, and The Phantom Reporter. I’d heard of none of them before the title was announced, and after reading their stories, am looking forward to, even more than before, the first official issue. For nostalgia sake alone, I say pick this issue up!

HOUSE OF M: AVENGERS #2 (OF 5)

By Christos N. Gage, Mike Perkins, Drew Hennessy and Raul Trevino

My first review of House of M: Avengers wasn’t all that hot. Sadly, this one won’t be any better. I have no idea why this title came into existence. And it took me a good three sit-downs to actually finish the book (with some skimming – that’s not saying an awful lot). This one is a total snoozer. PASS!

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Dana Severson is one of your resident reviewers of all things
Marvel. He is often found red-eyed and filled with caffeine.