The Ultimates 2 13 (February 2007)

More of the Hitch battle scenes. Page after page of it. But here’s all Millar wrote… Thor fights Loki, Asgardian warriors appear, Thor wins. Probably twenty pages (the issue’s double-sized) for that lame sequence. Millar leaves a lot up in the air, like Hank Pym’s fate, and he makes Ultimate Tony smart again. The best jokes some from the guest-starring Fantastic Four, not even the regular cast. I’m trying to think of what else actually makes an impression in the comic. Not much. It ends with a flashback to show how cool Ultimate Steve Rogers was in the forties before … Continue reading The Ultimates 2 13 (February 2007)

The Ultimates 2 12 (August 2006)

When Hitch’s art suffers this issue, I suppose it’s more understandable. He’s drawing every established Ultimate character and probably some other ones. It’s the fight to save America! From the Russians and Muslims! The whole thing plays like a rightwing wet dream. I love when Ultimate Cap taunts the Muslim supervillain like a Bond bad guy. The issue’s split into three fight scenes–Ultimate Cap and Muslim guy, Hulk and Abomination, Quicksilver and bad fast person. The most emphasis goes to Ultimate Cap, but the Quicksilver scene is at least witty. Millar tries it with Hulk and flops. Then there are … Continue reading The Ultimates 2 12 (August 2006)

The Ultimates 2 11 (July 2006)

Apparently, terrible last pages are Hitch’s new thing for Ultimates 2. His Hulk looks like he modeled it off Mr. Potato Head. Otherwise–and Hitch totally flubs the pacing of the Hulk reveal, just terrible work adapting the cinematic moment in Millar’s script–it’s a fine, exciting issue. Sure, there’s no Thor, but Hawkeye’s kicking butt and Ultimate Steve Rogers is fighting bad guys instead of whining about not being able to oppress brown people. Millar includes a George W. Bush cameo, which is a little odd, since it’s a pointless scene. I’m trying to remember what else happens… I don’t think … Continue reading The Ultimates 2 11 (July 2006)

The Ultimates 2 10 (March 2006)

Hitch’s last panel in this issue, of a fat-faced Ultimate Steve Rogers with a completely different haircut than the rest of the series really shows he doesn’t have to do anything up to par, just as long as he eventually turns in the pages. Ew. It leaves an otherwise cool issue on a low point. Millar’s enjoying himself at least, with Hawkeye kicking ass and Ultimate Tony finally acting smart. Sure, it’s all action movie tricks in a comic, but it works. The finish–with Ultimate Cap–should be great. Hitch ruins it. The rest of the issue is exposition about how … Continue reading The Ultimates 2 10 (March 2006)

The Ultimates 2 9 (January 2006)

Interesting. You have a comic about a bunch of superheroes and none of them do much super. Instead, it’s a bunch of destruction scenes featuring Hitch’s really boring giant robots. I assume it makes sense to Millar, but probably only as a way to drag out the series some more. I thought the other all-action issues were hard to talk about, but nothing happens here. The State of Liberty gets torn down–in case you weren’t paying attention to the scene, it’s when Millar’s being really subversive. He’s so rebel. What else… Oh, are Nick Fury and Betty what’s-her-name having an … Continue reading The Ultimates 2 9 (January 2006)

The Ultimates 2 8 (November 2005)

The biggest surprise this issue–Millar and Hitch ruin the surprise of Ultimate Steve Rogers being the traitor (it’s not Loki messing with reality! It can’t be!) with the cover–is the “next issue” tag. Tony’s marrying Black Widow? So soon? I thought they were just dating. Millar must have skipped their romance to infer more incest between Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. Though, to be fair to Millar, that inference needing doing, since the regular Marvel comics have been doing it for thirty years or whatever without any self-awareness. What’s most amusing is how Ultimate Steve Rogers is at his most likable … Continue reading The Ultimates 2 8 (November 2005)

The Ultimates 2 7 (September 2005)

Oh, come on, Millar doesn’t even try to produce a fulfilling read. There’s some big action stuff with the Ultimates invading Iraq (or unnamed Middle Eastern country where Ultimate Steve Rogers mouths off at the little brown people he’s stuck helping–a nice move from Millar), there’s a conversation between Thor and Tony, Jan and Hank having coffee and Hawkeye’s family getting killed. Nothing else. Four scenes. The most frustrating thing about the comic is how those four scenes are, on their own, quite good. The writing is good if not great, Hitch’s art is appropriate. They just don’t add up … Continue reading The Ultimates 2 7 (September 2005)

The Ultimates 2 6 (July 2005)

Another good issue. Of course, it gives Millar a chance to mock superhero start-ups–he recasts the Defenders as a bunch of cosplayers who decide to fight crime (it’s like Kick-Ass before Kick-Ass)–but he’s also using Hank as the protagonist. And Millar does come up with a lot of cinematic action for Hitch to draw. No talking heads scenes, no forest fight scenes… it’s all metropolitan and it’s mean. The issue’s a rather black comedy; Millar probably should have done all of Ultimates 2 from Hank’s perspective. However, when he gets around to teasing the leak inside the Ultimates, he seriously … Continue reading The Ultimates 2 6 (July 2005)

The Ultimates 2 5 (June 2005)

How am I going to write a post about this issue? Nothing happens in it. The Ultimates beat up Thor, then Thor goes to jail, then Nick Fury decides to invade the Middle East (proving Thor right). Big cliffhanger! The whole Ultimates concept–realistic superhero artwork–flops here because the fight scene is in the woods. Who cares about realistic forest artwork? Hitch is no Thomas Kinkade. Then there’s the last few pages, post-fight scene. Millar teases Thor being nuts, but he can’t create any actual suspicion of it. No matter what Millar does–Hulk eating people, Giant Man beating up the Wasp, … Continue reading The Ultimates 2 5 (June 2005)

The Ultimates 2 4 (May 2005)

So Ultimates 2 basically starts this issue. The rest was just finishing up the first series and getting rid of the Hulk. Now Millar’s on to the new story, Loki messing with stuff, and everyone too stupid to believe Thor. I like how Hitch makes Ultimate Captain America look like a Nazi superhero on the last page. I wonder if that implication was intentional. Sadly, it’s not a good issue. Millar’s putting in a lot of exposition and not much character work. Janet and Ultimate Rogers are a boring couple. She’s a terrible character and he’s apparently Millar’s attempt at … Continue reading The Ultimates 2 4 (May 2005)

The Ultimates 2 3 (April 2005)

“The Trial of the Incredible Hulk” isn’t much of a trial; having Ultimate Matt Murdock as Bruce’s defense lawyer feels forced too. But the issue’s solid. Millar continues to sympathize with strange characters–wife-beater Hank Pym, for example–and demonize the good guys. Nothing with Ultimate Rogers this issue but Ultimate Nick Fury’s a big jerk and Ultimate Tony Stark’s just a drunken twit. The finale, after an overlong funeral sequence, works out. For the first time on the series, Millar shows some sentimentality and actual engagement with the story. It doesn’t feel like hyperbole, it finally feels like sublime blockbuster storytelling. … Continue reading The Ultimates 2 3 (April 2005)

The Ultimates 2 2 (March 2005)

This issue’s a lot better than the first, though it takes a while to get used to Hitch. His composition choices don’t make any sense until one remembers there are rabid Hitch fans out there. It’s a relatively quiet issue. There’s no big action scene and I think Iron Man’s the only one in costume. That little side adventure is just to introduce Ultimate Excalibur; something for the speculators perhaps. Rogers accuses Thor of leaking a secret, Thor wonders why Rogers is dismissive of Asgard–there’s some subtext Millar doesn’t exploit enough about “real world” churchgoing. Even if people believe it, … Continue reading The Ultimates 2 2 (March 2005)

The Ultimates 2 1 (February 2005)

I wonder if Mark Millar intentionally paced this issue to finally get interesting a page or two before the finish. Seriously… I was just getting comfortable in my chair reading it and then the issue’s over. Most of the issue is spent with Captain America, sorry, Ultimate Captain America–the difference being this Steve Rogers is a complete moron who probably tortures people when no one’s looking. Millar’s attempt to show him as an old timer has some problems… especially when it comes to the gossip. He’s upset people are gossiping about him and the Wasp. Because no one would have … Continue reading The Ultimates 2 1 (February 2005)

The Ultimates 13 (April 2004)

So all Millar needs is a double issue and he’ll take time? Well, he doesn’t exactly take time. He writes an epilogue… lots of epilogues. It’s a decent issue, a good popcorn read… though, wouldn’t eating popcorn while reading a comic book get your fingers greasy and damage the comic, reducing the value. The positives come from the characters; again, Captain America doesn’t qualify yet and the Wasp does a turnaround on him and the end suggests some nooky (I guess he doesn’t know she’s a mutant yet… again, the hospital didn’t notice the little eggs?), so maybe next series … Continue reading The Ultimates 13 (April 2004)

The Ultimates 12 (November 2003)

And Millar brings it around… relatively. It’s a big huge fight scene with the fate of the solar system in the balance so maybe he gets some easy melodramatic points (he sure doesn’t score anything with the Captain America versus Nazi Skrull punch-out, not until the whole “A for America” thing, which doesn’t really sit well figuring Captain America’s from the 1940s and not a Neo-Con, but whatever… no one ever said Millar thought before he wrote). The best moments of the comic–when the soldiers mock Iron Man’s sacrifice, for example–are sometimes quiet, sometimes loud. Thor, again, has the best … Continue reading The Ultimates 12 (November 2003)

The Ultimates 11 (September 2003)

Oh, good grief…. Have you seen Independence Day? Or any of the millions of Body Snatchers type movies? Millar has. I know I’m reading way too much into The Ultimates, but come on… Millar’s got thirteen issues and he doesn’t do anything with this one. Seriously, I don’t think Marvel can say anything bad about Jim Shooter, because Millar’s not much different (I do absolutely love how they’re Skrulls though, which means all Bendis did was recycle Ultimates for Secret Invasion). There’s nary an honest moment to be seen in this issue. The end, the rallying speech from Captain America, … Continue reading The Ultimates 11 (September 2003)

The Ultimates 10 (July 2003)

Sigh. An all-action issue. Not even an action-packed all-action issue. It’s a non-action-packed all-action double cross issue. The Wasp’s twenty-six? Really? She’d have been nine when St. Elmo’s Fire came out, which makes it an awkward pop culture reference. It’s funny, but it doesn’t hold up to any thought whatsoever. Oh, wait, I just summed up the series. The big shocker at the end of the issue is the Nazi villain Captain America used to fight is back. It’s weird how Millar doesn’t really give Captain America a character here, he just lets him be defined by his actions, never … Continue reading The Ultimates 10 (July 2003)

The Ultimates 9 (April 2003)

When did the Soviet Union fall? Let’s check wikipedia. Ah, 1991. So Hawkeye has been in S.H.I.E.L.D. for over eleven years, putting him in his thirties somewhere, I assume. Shame Hitch draws him in his mid-twenties. Actually, if it hadn’t been for that last line about the Soviet Union, I was going to open with how unpleasant it is to read Hawkeye in Ultimates, since (I think) he just ends up getting tortured and killed anyway. I don’t know what happens this issue. They get ready to go attack the aliens, Captain America strikes out with Janet. Oh, the fight. … Continue reading The Ultimates 9 (April 2003)

The Ultimates 8 (November 2002)

See, if you make the Nazis aliens… you can sell your comic books easier to Germans…. Millar’s “Secret Invasion” thing here–shocking he didn’t get mad at Bendis, also shocking there’s a big rip-off of a Men in Black moment–is a huge cop-out as far as real problems go. It’s sensational and bombastic, but it also gives the Ultimates an enemy who can be killed in hugely cinematic ways–just like The Matrix, which is another reference for the issue. Sure, Millar takes the time to have Tony Stark “freak out” about alien invasions, but Hitch’s art’s static in the one panel … Continue reading The Ultimates 8 (November 2002)

The Ultimates 7 (September 2002)

Maybe they just enlarge Hitch’s artwork. His full page close-up of Captain America, out of uniform, to close the issue is just as lacking in detail as his other Captain America full pages. It’s really awkward. He doesn’t go light on any other character…. This issue’s half terrible and half mediocre. Millar’s treatise on spousal abuse is less insightful than a commercial for a Dr. Phil special and about thirty times more exploitative. I’m sure he patted himself on the back through the whole thing, but it’s really cheap. The other half of the issue, with the reader finding out … Continue reading The Ultimates 7 (September 2002)

The Ultimates 6 (August 2002)

Another all action issue. Sort of. There’s the dinner party with Captain America, Thor and Iron Man–lots of awkward close-ups here… Millar’s obviously trying for a movie feel, but it’s like Hitch doesn’t know how to frame for those kinds of panels. There’s also the whole Hank versus Janet thing going on. It’s a really problematic issue because there’s the cool stuff–not gay Jarvis trying to cruise Captain America–but the little stuff, like the boys enjoying a joke. It’s believable, following a somewhat tense situation. The Janet and Hank stuff… well… I guess it’s cool when he talks about her … Continue reading The Ultimates 6 (August 2002)

The Ultimates 5 (July 2002)

For an all action issue, it’s decent. It’s very cinematic in a boring, expository way (Grand Central’s cleared so they fight there, how convenient), but Millar does occasionally get in some good moments. I remember when Brubaker took over Captain America and talked about the character as an FDR democrat, full of idealism. Millar writes him like a cruel thug, something out of The Green Berets. It’s interesting, I guess, but it doesn’t really make him a rallying point. Thor’s barely a cameo; good for a joke about Dubya. I hope Millar stops with that avenue of humor soon… it’s … Continue reading The Ultimates 5 (July 2002)

The Ultimates 4 (June 2002)

It’s the outfit. Hitch can’t draw the Captain America outfit. All his detail goes out the window and it looks like something off a TV shirt or an action figure package. Some of it could be Currie’s inking, but I doubt it. This issue, again, is strong. It’s like Millar can’t do strong issues twice in a row. The Ultimates is like the even numbered Star Trek movies, stronger than the odd numbered ones… This one has the first appearance from Thor, which is awesome–Ultimate Thor is probably my favorite Ultimate character because Millar gets how to make him work … Continue reading The Ultimates 4 (June 2002)

The Ultimates 3 (May 2002)

Lots of this issue is really good. The Captain America going to see Bucky stuff, all great. Brings a tear to my eye. Like Millar watched Fields of Dreams to prep for that one. Then the scene in the cemetery, where it’s like he watched Aliens to go over the dead family. It’s too bad the ending is a huge stinker. The Captain America shot on the last page is weak and the whole lead-in with the media event is weak. Even Dubya shows up to make things even stupider (and more dated). Where Millar goes wrong is letting the … Continue reading The Ultimates 3 (May 2002)

The Ultimates 2 (April 2002)

My favorite thing about Mark Millar, now and forever, will be him thinking Oregon is a city with a downtown. Just the man who should be writing American characters…. Actually, Millar’s geographic ignorance aside (Ultimates will be, I think, forever dated with its Dubya references), the second issue’s a lot of fun. He introduces all the characters and makes them all rather engaging–demonizing Bruce Banner a little bit, the only character Hitch doesn’t draw good-looking. It’s fun watching Hank and Janet together (shame it goes so south so soon, but mainstream comics rarely have engaging couples… you’d think someone would … Continue reading The Ultimates 2 (April 2002)

The Ultimates 1 (March 2002)

I forgot how fast these Ultimates comics read. Millar doesn’t seem to recognize a difference between ending with the reader wanting more and ending with the reader feeling ripped off. This issue’s basically a prologue. It’s a visual rip-off of Saving Private Ryan‘s opening with Captain America added. What’s so funny on Millar’s take on the World War II era Cap is how, reading this series after Brubaker’s done his revisionist thing, Millar seems quaint and forced. His ideas are unimaginative and derivative and barely there. I guess Hitch’s artwork is good. It’s all very realistic–does Hitch photo-reference? Probably… Millar … Continue reading The Ultimates 1 (March 2002)

Captain America: Reborn 6 (March 2010)

Almost. Brubaker almost pulls it off. Who drew the second to last pages? The War of the Worlds future pages? He had some problems but those problems were almost preferable. They had an unfinished, kind of indie feel–as indie as Marvel would get–which would have been something on a flagship title like this one. But that art isn’t why Brubaker nearly succeeds. He nearly succeeds for a couple reasons. First, he paces this issue better. He resolves the previous issue’s cliffhanger but also has time to do some resolution to those events. The little things make all the difference. Oh, … Continue reading Captain America: Reborn 6 (March 2010)

Captain America: Reborn 5 (February 2010)

Seriously, an issue-long fight scene? A boring issue long fight scene on top of it? It’s like Brubaker doesn’t understand (or maybe just doesn’t care) you can’t rehash–or modernize–the old Marvel feel and draw out the fight scene. Something has to happen. Nothing happens here. It could have been done in about four pages. The only two people who matter, right now, are Bucky and the Red Skull–though I will admit it’s real creepy to see him in Cap’s body–because it’s where the issue cliffhangs. It’s also where Brubaker’s going to have to make a decision. Is Bucky his lead … Continue reading Captain America: Reborn 5 (February 2010)