Thursday, June 6, 2024

Remixing Marvel With "The Ultimates," #1

Back in, "Ultimate Invasion," a twisted version of Reed Richards known as, "The Maker," found a Marvel Universe much like the, "Regular," 616 one and his own original, "Ultimate," version. However, he altered much of the events in that World from the early 20th century on to ensure a place he ruled with little to no challenge. At the end of, "Ultimate Invasion," the Maker was trapped away in his own castle for a period of time, but not before framing the Stark family for attacking New York City (with Howard Stark now trapped too and his teenage son Tony left to try and make sense of how to help the World). Since, "Ultimate Invasion," we've had the launch of other Ultimate titles that range from amazing ("Ultimate Spider-Man,") to enjoyable ("Ultimate Black Panther,") to decent enough ("Ultimate X-Men,")...and now, "The Ultimates," itself has arrived. Oh, and it is good.

The, "Ultimate," line seems to intriguingly enough be advancing somewhat in real-time, with issues mirroring the flow of an actual month (flashbacks aside). Hence, when the characters within, "The Ultimates," observe they jumped six months into the future, it really has been that long since the main Ultimate books kicked off with Spidey. Hence, the observation they have a limited amount of time before The Maker emerges from his temporal jail in 18 months or so rings quite true. Johnathan Hickman has designed much of this new Ultimate Universe but Deniz Camp writes, "The Ultimates," itself and does a fantastic job bringing us a ragtag group of heroes painted as terrorists fighting against the secret evil powers of this World (The Maker had plenty of lackeys now trying to split-up territories around Earth in his absence). Juan Frigeri is the artist and excels at giving us some explosive fight scenes between the Ultimates and powers that would challenge them.

I especially like how this latest Ultimate Universe is not just a reboot, but a World where the heroes are aware they were meant to be different and can choose to try and achieve their destinies or reject them. This leads to a poignant scene with Hank Pym remarking how upon seeing what his 616 counterpart has been like he doesn't know if he actually wants to have powers and be anything like that person with a history that is relatively fraught (from creating Ultron to striking his wife and so forth). Others found this way of approaching Pym interesting too. This latest Ultimate Universe is both its own fascinating beast, but also in a way a reflection of the, "Main," Marvel Universe, commenting on it and tweaking itself to be both similar yet different. It's a little meta, and I always appreciate that kind of thing.

This first issue of, "The Ultimates," continues the tendency of this new line of comics to be full of great reads (and the passable X-Men one). With its real-time setup and a clear timetable for something big on the horizon, little time is wasted in any Ultimate-related issues and this newest series makes a fantastic addition to the relatively tight line-up--something I appreciate in an era where a new hit universe/concept/etc. can get bloated really fast with too many tie-ins or such. Whether you're new to this latest Ultimate Universe or have been following it since the, "Ultimate Invasion," series this debut issue of, "The Ultimates," is worth a read!

5 out of 5 stars.

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