Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Ultimates: Volume 1: Super-Human (2002)

Author: Mark Millar | Illustrator: Bryan Hitch | Page Count: 160

Listen, I’m really sorry about breaking your nose back there, General Fury.”
“Take it easy... This nose has been smashed more times than Robert Downey Jr.”

The team with the modest name are like an Ultimate Universe version of the Avengers.  (See Spider-Man post if you need Ultimate Universe info.)  It’s not a typical origin story; it’s more of a recruitment story.  General Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. (who was comic book Sam Jackson years before real life Sam Jackson was movie Nick Fury) puts together a team of the best and brightest superheroes he can find because he fears an attack on the U.S. by some as yet unknown super villain(s); he’s the ultimate paranoid Boy Scout.  There’s only one problem with that strategy: they've got no one to fight.  When that many egos are gathered together in one place some members of the team begin to get anxious.

Millar’s heroes are part warrior, part pawn and part celebrity in a world not unlike our own.  I was a little annoyed by the many references to the real world he kept throwing in.  Some of it was blackly humourous (I think he was mocking the kind of sad individual that believes namechecking celebrities will give them status) but mostly it was just irritating, and is the thing that will cause the book to feel most dated the further we are removed from the pop culture events mentioned.
It’s a good thing Millar was able to balance it out with some excellent pacing elsewhere, and some fast but deep character developments.

His style is as cinematic as they come.  In fact, both the first Captain America and Avengers films stole large chucks of his story for their scripts, and all they gave him was a thank you in the screen credit; they ought to be ashamed.

Bryan Hitch’s artwork is great, and some clever use of thick shadows by colourist Paul Mounts means it isn't ruined by the digital colouring techniques.

The book collects together The Ultimates, issues 1 - 6.

4 kinds of jealousy out of 5

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