Whether you are an avid comic book fan or just looking to get your feet wet, Marvel’s The Ultimates is a gritty re-imagining of The Avengers that will drag you into the fight from page one.
If you aren’t familiar with comic books and want to learn more before getting into Vancity Buzz’s weekly graphic novel article “Graphic Weekends”, please take a look at yesterday’s introductory post.
Alright then, let’s get started. The Ultimates is a superhero team-up with everything The Avengers brings to the table and then some. There are fights galore, the occasional laugh, and familiar faces that will let you start off your comic book collection with characters you are comfortable with (Captain America, the Hulk, Iron Man, and Thor). It also features what I believe to be one of the best lines I have ever read in a comic book – trust me, you will know it when you see it. Still, The Ultimates spins what we have come to know as the big screen Avengers in a fresh and brutally humanizing way. Despite being a graphic novel about super heroes saving the earth, it is very much so a book for a more mature readership; it tackles issues of domestic violence, fighting insurmountable odds, and what happens when the Hulk drinks an entire truckload of beer.
Mark Millar and Illustrator Bryan Hitch develop the characters beautifully and show painstaking attention to detail. Each page exemplifies the best visuals Marvel Comics has to offer, and some of the double paged landscape art will have you wondering how it’s even possible this was drawn by hand. Still, The Ultimates is not just a bunch of pretty pictures; Millar uses his superheroes as a means to explore deeper social issues in a rough and honest manner. The overall message conveyed by The Ultimates is a painful one; even those we idolize as perfect and indestructible have their flaws, and by admittance of that fact, we must accept in turn that we can never even come close to perfection.
Oh, and did I mention there are Nazis? Because there totally are.
The Ultimates is comprised of 13 single issues which have been put together as a graphic novel. There have been two subsequent books published in the series, however only the first was written by Mark Millar and it is by far the best – I recommend reading The Ultimates #1 and leaving it at that (don’t worry about missing out on the ending, the story is entirely self contained).
The retail price is $39.99, however I purchased it at The Comic Shop on West 4th for $35.00. This is on the higher pay-scale of comics you will find on “Graphic Weekends”, but well worth it for the quality of writing and art (not to mention it’s a pretty long read). Don’t worry if you aren’t familiar with many of Vancouver’s comic book stores – for now you are fine just heading to the one nearest to you. We will be digging deeper into all the shops the city has to offer in the coming weeks.
As always, If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions please feel free to post underneath and I will reply as soon as I see them. Or if you prefer email, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.