Real Heroes 2 (May 2014)

Real Heroes #2

Hitch does the whole Galaxy Quest with comics beautifully, but ups it with a lot of references to the superhero movie industry. It’s a lot of fun to read–though I have no idea how it would read to someone not up on all the industry news. Hitch goes far with it. Too far? I can’t know as I get all the references.

There’s also a bit of Galaxy Quest in the plot reveal. The fake heroes are there to do a public service announcement to reconcile with the bad guys. There’s some good character moments and a couple funny parts and it all plays out well. Then Hitch implies the big villain is actually trying to make the reconciliation work.

Or maybe he doesn’t. Hopefully he does, because it’d make Real Heroes something different. It can continue to amuse with the Galaxy Quest riff. But maybe it’ll be more.

B 

CREDITS

Writer and penciller, Bryan Hitch; inkers, Paul Neary and Andrew Currie; colorist, Laura Martin; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor, Drew Gill; publisher, Image Comics.

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Real Heroes 1 (March 2014)

Real Heroes #1

The first issue of Real Heroes doesn’t offer much in the way of surprises. It’s Bryan Hitch doing realistic superhero disaster scenes and he’s good at those. He does a lot of photo-referencing, of course, but it fits since he’s doing Hollywood stars.

The premise is pretty simple. What if the cast of The Avengers had to go play superhero in an alternate reality. How Hitch wasn’t able to sell “Galaxy Quest with superheroes” to a major studio is beyond me. Or maybe he’s trying to establish the brand first.

Hitch doesn’t shy away from plot or character contrivances either. His cast includes the son of a 9/11 firefighter who’s obviously going to be concerned about doing the right thing and then a paraplegic actor who’ll probably get to walk again in the alternate universe.

It’s a little too real with the 9/11 stuff, but Hitch’s earnest and definitely engaged.

B 

CREDITS

Writer and penciller, Bryan Hitch; inker, Paul Neary; colorist, Laura Martin; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor, Drew Gill; publisher, Image Comics.

The Ultimates 2 13 (February 2007)

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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 he became a fascist thug. I guess it’s interesting Millar changes Ultimate Cap’s world perspective at the end of the issue and does no work in the preceding twelve issues to set him up for a change.

It’s bad writing, sure, but Ultimates 2 is pointless tripe anyway….

The Ultimates 2 12 (August 2006)

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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 some Iron Man inserts, but Hitch’s robotics are so confusing, I could never even see what Ultimate Tony’s piloting. Maybe a space station.

The real question is Hank Pym. Is he really a traitor or was he always a secret agent?

It’s the only interesting thing about the comic.

The Ultimates 2 11 (July 2006)

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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 much. The biggest joke of the series might turn out to be how Millar basically only humanized Hank Pym and he’s apparently a genocidal traitor. Oh, wait, no, he’s not. He just wants his wife and all the superheroes executed.

That Millar sure does write craftily.

Eye roll.

The Ultimates 2 10 (March 2006)

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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 all the bad guys secretly got together. That little Arab kid Ultimate Steve Rogers mouthed off at a few issues ago? He’s the new Captain Arab or whatever they call him. It’s an exceptionally stupid detail… Millar can’t earnestly be that cheap, can he?

Still, not bad.

The Ultimates 2 9 (January 2006)

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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 affair? It’d be kind of cute if they were I suppose, might give Fury some character. And the death of Ultimate Jarvis would be sadder if Millar hadn’t made him a misogynist sociopath.

Millar doesn’t even pretend to care about doing a good job with it.

The Ultimates 2 8 (November 2005)

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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 when he’s hanging out with Bucky. Millar had an actual story and he skipped it to turn Ultimate Steve into a complete dick. Why? Because it’s more sensational and less emotionally honest, which sums up his Ultimates pretty well overall.

Still, while it’s weak, it’s not terrible.

The Ultimates 2 7 (September 2005)

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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 to a comic.

Millar’s too fixated on talking down to the reader–Tony’s a dumb drunk, Ultimate Steve is a fascist, Nick Fury’s the terrorist-in-chief–he doesn’t let the comic be any fun. Those three things I mentioned are funny. He should embrace it, not soapbox it.

The Ultimates 2 6 (July 2005)

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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 missteps. It’s a painfully cheap move and draws the reader back to the artificiality of the comic. As usual with Millar, he can’t tell when he’s doing good work and not just being a self-serving hack.

An unfortunate finish to an otherwise good issue.

The Ultimates 2 5 (June 2005)

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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, Ultimate Steve Rogers being Ronald Reagan’s wet dream–there’s no way Thor isn’t Thor. Not in a Marvel comic.

Speaking of Ultimate Captain America, I like the implication he’s more worried about foul language than he is about being used to invade sovereign states.

Crap issue.

The Ultimates 2 4 (May 2005)

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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 mocking American strong men. At least I hope he’s trying to be funny. Otherwise he’s just totally unaware of himself as a writer.

There’re no big scenes this issue. Millar fills the emptiness with a bunch of lame Ultimate introductions; his dialogue is also weak. There’s nothing interesting going on….

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. It’s actually a problem, because it shows what tone he should be going for with Ultimates and almost never attempts, much less attains.

There aren’t even any subplots working. It’s just a good issue, a couple bad moves aside.

Though Hitch’s art is still boring as dirt.

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, people don’t believe it will interact. Instead, he closes on Thor’s line, not Rogers’s reaction.

Wait, never mind. I keep forgetting Ultimate Steve Rogers is an idiot.

Millar’s handling of the scenes, the dialogue and the pacing, is quite good.

Reading it almost feels like a worthwhile time investment.

The Ultimates 2 1 (February 2005)

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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 done such a thing in the thirties or forties? Clearly Steve Rogers was illiterate in the Ultimate Universe.

As usual, the only interesting stuff is with Thor. Millar’s attempt at convincing the reader Thor might be crazy fails.

And Bryan Hitch does his realism thing again. Whoop–de–do.

The Ultimates 13 (April 2004)

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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 he’ll have a character.

Great stuff with Thor and Iron Man, at least during the battle scene. However, Tony hitting on Laura Bush is, not surprisingly, weak. Millar really forces his “real world” humor and it almost always fails.

The Hulk saving the day, while neat, is way too easy.

CREDITS

How I Learned to Love the Hulk; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Bryan Hitch; inker, Paul Neary; colorist, Paul Mounts; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, C.B. Cebulski, Nick Lowe, MacKenzie Cadenhead and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Ultimates 12 (November 2003)

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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 lines in the comic. Millar never doing an Ultimate Thor series is his undoing, creatively speaking. For whatever reason, he writes him leagues better than anyone else.

I’m having some trouble with Captain America as a brilliant strategist too… shouldn’t have he won WWII earlier then?

CREDITS

Persons of Mass Destruction; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Bryan Hitch; inker, Paul Neary; colorist, Paul Mounts; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, C.B. Cebulski, Nick Lowe, MacKenzie Cadenhead and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Ultimates 11 (September 2003)

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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, is about as well written as Bill Pullman’s Independence Day rallying speech.

I think some of my… hostility comes from Ultimates being a decent concept–at least as far as an Ultimate Universe team book goes–and Millar faking “real world” with soap opera histrionics and mean-spiritedness.

Two left.

CREDITS

The Art of War; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Bryan Hitch; inker, Paul Neary; colorist, Paul Mounts; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, C.B. Cebulski, Nick Lowe, MacKenzie Cadenhead and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Ultimates 10 (July 2003)

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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 really having any thoughts.

Lots of vehicles for Hitch to draw this time. I think he digs drawing vehicles. It’s a decent scene, the sky full of S.H.I.E.L.D. ships. I don’t know… I can’t get excited at this point.

Nice Thor moments though.

CREDITS

Devil in Disguise; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Bryan Hitch; inker, Paul Neary; colorist, Paul Mounts; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, C.B. Cebulski, Nick Lowe and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Ultimates 9 (April 2003)

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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. Captain America versus Giant Man. Once it becomes clear Captain America’s going to kick ass, the fight’s over. Boring.

Millar’s playful approach to Tony’s alcoholism is cute. It’s funny how that problem’s a joke, but spousal abuse isn’t (if Millar was really thinking, he’d have Janet beat up Hank).

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Bryan Hitch; inker, Paul Neary; colorist, Paul Mounts; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Brian Smith, C.B. Cebulski, Stephanie Moore and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Ultimates 8 (November 2002)

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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 with Stark freaking so it comes off as sarcastic instead of emotional.

The issue ends with Captain America getting ready to beat the crap out of Hank Pym, which may or may not just be Millar lifting the Jesse vs. Cassidy conflict from Preacher.

Eh.

CREDITS

The Experts; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Bryan Hitch; inker, Paul Neary; colorist, Paul Mounts; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Brian Smith, C.B. Cebulski and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Ultimates 7 (September 2002)

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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 Nick Fury’s got a whole other team of Ultimates–the black ops team, who do the important jobs (where were they during the Hulk attacking Manhattan)–is fine enough. It’s silly and forced, but so’s the comic in general.

And wouldn’t the hospital have discovered Janet is a mutant?

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Bryan Hitch; inker, Andrew Currie; colorist, Paul Mounts; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Brian Smith, C.B. Cebulski and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Ultimates 6 (August 2002)

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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 mutation involving her laying eggs six days a week. I mean, it’s a gross detail but an effective, imaginative one. I don’t think they push Ultimate mutations so much in Ultimate X-Men. But otherwise it’s a sensational, cruelly-minded attempt at showing an abusive marriage.

CREDITS

Giant Man vs. The Wasp; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Bryan Hitch; inker, Andrew Currie; colorist, Paul Mounts; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Brian Smith, C.B. Cebulski and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Ultimates 5 (July 2002)

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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 cover for not really having any real content.

Hitch’s art’s better here. If not better, I like it more than usual.

The Hulk sums up what I don’t like about Millar’s approach. He dismisses the character having any potential for future stories to make a big splash with this one.

CREDITS

Hulk Does Manhattan; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Bryan Hitch; inker, Andrew Currie; colorist, Paul Mounts; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Brian Smith, C.B. Cebulski and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Ultimates 4 (June 2002)

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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 “real world.”

There’s also the Bruce Banner Hulk out sequence, which is all right. What’s strange about Ultimate Hulk is how he’s completely lame. Banner’s not even an interesting character, he’s like a low grade villain. I think Millar thinks he’s doing something special with him, but he’s not.

CREDITS

Thunder; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Bryan Hitch; inker, Andrew Currie; colorist, Paul Mounts; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Brian Smith, C.B. Cebulski and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Ultimates 3 (May 2002)

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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 issue get away from Captain America, turning him into something to be regarded instead of the principal.

There’s some nice other character moments, but lots of foreshadowing too… Janet makes a comment about she and Hank’s marriage and then Banner’s got Hulk envy going.

It’s passable, I suppose, overall.

CREDITS

21st Century Boy; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Bryan Hitch; inker, Andrew Currie; colorist, Paul Mounts; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Brian Smith and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Ultimates 2 (April 2002)

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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 have seen The Thin Man) and Tony and Nick act like a couple teenagers.

Millar’s usual bombasm and moronic plotting aside, he really does have talent and this issue showcases it. He knows how to make the reader engage in the material.

Pity he does it so rarely.

CREDITS

“Big”; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Bryan Hitch; inker, Andrew Currie; colorist, Paul Mounts; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Brian Smith and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Ultimates 1 (March 2002)

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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 likes him–but it’s never exciting. Captain America’s not the biggest jerk in the comic, instead there’s a lame “regular guy” who’s a big jerk. I think he gets his comeuppance and dies.

It’s a pretty weak first issue… certainly doesn’t make me want to read more.

CREDITS

Super Human; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Bryan Hitch; inker, Andrew Currie; colorists, Paul Mounts and Bongotone; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Brian Smith and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Captain America: Reborn 6 (March 2010)

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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, the other reason. He calls back to his first issues of Captain America with Steve out on the roof, taking a breather. At his best, when dealing with Steve Rogers, Brubaker brings some humanity to the legend. Like he does here.

Too bad it’s too little, too late.

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brubaker; penciller, Bryan Hitch; inker, Butch Guice; colorist, Paul Mounts; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Lauren Sankovitch and Tom Brevoort; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Captain America: Reborn 5 (February 2010)

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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 or is Steve his lead? Market forces and Hollywood seem to dictate the latter, but everything Brubaker has done on the series to date suggests the former. Tick tock, tick tock.

I’m really not looking forward to the last issue. It is going to disappoint.

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brubaker; penciller, Bryan Hitch; inker, Butch Guice; colorist, Paul Mounts; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Lauren Sankovitch and Tom Brevoort; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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