Shiny Shelf

Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates #1

By Julio Angel Ortiz on 05 September 2011

It has been a rough few years for Marvel’s Ultimate Comics range.

What started out with acclaimed series such as ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’, ‘The Ultimates’, and ‘Ultimate X-Men’ and was at one time considered a gold standard in comics, degraded into a lackluster range of titles, including ‘Ultimate Fantastic Four’ and ‘The Ultimates 3’.

Subpar writing and lack of cohesion in their titles (creative teams were rotating out on a yearly basis, it seemed) lead to enough of a mess that Marvel felt the need to shake the range up. They did just that with their controversial ‘Ultimatum’ event, which had a high body count (killing off such heavyweights as Wolverine and Magneto) and altered the landscape for the Ultimate range.

What followed was a relaunch of sorts, with a limited amount of series running (ongoing series such as ‘Ultimate Comics: Avengers’ and ‘Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man’) or mini-series such as ‘New Ultimates’ and ‘Ultimate X’).

Now, Marvel looks to relaunch the Ultimate range again. building on what has come before with 3 core ongoing series and the occasional mini-series to supplement them. The first out of the gate is ‘Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates’, by the creative of Jonathan Hickman (writer) and Esad Ribic (artwork).

Hickman provide a solid, decompressed script that slowly builds. Hickman is in this for the long-haul, and the first issue provides the frenetic framework for what is to come.

Despite Captain America being on the cover (and prominently), he is nowhere to be found in this issue. Instead, the action unfolds across three different regions (using Fury in the command centre at the Ultimates’ HQ, the Triskelion, as a framing device).

Plenty of mysteries are masterfully set up (such as who are the people in the opening sequence with the domed building, what’s with explosion in Uruguay using you-know-who’s tech, and what’s the situation in Bangkok?), and Hickman leaves us on a perfect note hanging for the next issue. There’s a pace here that I really enjoyed; having never read anything by Hickman (but having heard good things), I was impressed.

Ribic’s artwork is solid, continuing the realistic trend in comics and complementing Hickman’s script. Ribic gives the book a cinematic feel; exactly what I love about comics (it has the advantages of prose fiction and cinema, with unlimited budget) Ribic brings through in his work.

The majestic poses of the British super-soldiers in flight, the floating Asgardian city, the beings from inside the dome attacking: Ribic brings it all to life in convincing fashion. There is a fluidity in his artwork that I enjoy and I hope he will be staying on the series for a long time to come.

‘Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates’ #1 is a wonderful starting point for the new Ultimate Comics relaunch, and if you have never read anything before in the range, this is a great place to start. Hickman and company start off the series on a high note, and I look forward to seeing where it goes.

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By Julio Angel Ortiz

Julio Angel Ortiz maintains his collection of curiosities at You can also Like him on Facebook as well and check out his latest writing projects.

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