Ultimate Comics Avengers #1
Written by Mark Millar
Drawn by Carlos Pacheco
Generally speaking first issues of series should try and meet a number of targets within their pages. They need to set the tone of the coming issues whilst setting up the story that will run through the series and if in a continuity based shared universe, acknowledge their forebears. But most of all it must create a desire in the reader to continue with this series, which can be done in all manner of ways.
Millar’s return to the Ultimate Universe’s Mightiest Heroes has the added pressure of expectation not being his first jaunt at these characters and this type of book having been so lauded. He’s met these targets to varying degrees in this issue creating and comic that’s far from perfect but flawed in almost all the right ways as far as this reviewer is concerned.
We begin with a perfect Millarism, a full page spread of someone swearing, despite that u should really be annoyed at this waste of a page I actually found myself impressed as Fury’s reaction serves as an almost meta-textual reaction to not only the shocking events of Ultimatum but the last page of this issues too. This and the next three pages seem to be meant to meet the shared-universe target I previously mentioned. Although the scene is clearly the result of Ultimatum to anyone who knew of the event it does little to really expand on the devastating effect that seemed to be the only “success” of the recently completed event. I’m uncertain of whether the fault lies with the artist or Millar wanted to underplay the event so that he could move on and do his own thing but the two page spread which I’d assume is supposed to indicate devastation of the breadth I’ve seen in images from Ultimatum and Ultimate Spider-man simply fails to makes an impression on me. The damage to The Triskellion seems miniscule when compared to that meted out to it in the first two volumes of Ultimates, and the puddle Fury and Hawkeye stand in being smaller that those I’ve seen after a rainy day in London helped even less. Whether intended or not though Millar does move quickly onwards to establishing what seems to be the first arc of this series: Fury and a Black Ops team chasing down a rogue Cap who’s pursuing the Red Skull. This segues into the main aspect of the book; the fight against AIM high above Chicago, Millar shines when it comes to fight choreography and this is no exception. A brief interlude showing that Tony Stark has fallen to even lower levels of debauchery breaks the story of the assault which continues with a leap between helicopters and a thrashing for Captain America. This issue concludes with a pulse-pounding leap (which also resulted in my favourite line of the issue “I think you mean awesome”) and the main twist of the issue unfortunately revealed months ago and therefore lacking the impact it should have had.
Returning to the aims I laid out at the beginning of the review Millar has met success with virtually all of them. It seems clear this volume of Ultimates will continue the widescreen action style of the first two, with a story involving the chase for Captain America as he in turn copes with the revelation at the end of this issue. It does acknowledge Ultimatum in that opening sequence, the depression of Tony Stark and the acknowledgement that the theft attempted in this issue might not have occurred in a pre-Ultimatum world. Finally Millar most certainly leaves me wanting to come back for more, the most important criteria he must meet. There are flaws, we get Millar’s unnecessary namedropping (at least it was an architect instead of the pop star of the moment) as well as his reliance on questions in his dialogue and similar voices amongst the characters and it’s understandable that some will complain that this issue lacked any real depth, but I enjoyed it nevertheless.
The art from Pacheco is good, he seems to draw facial expressions and fight scenes equally well with solid composition and motion. It isn’t anywhere near Hitch’s stuff (which is unfortunately the benchmark Pacheco and all the other artists on UCA will be compared to). Even disregarding that having heard such glowing reviews of his work due to Avengers: Forever I was left underwhelmed. And I simply can’t get over how wasteful that two page splash was and do consider the blame to lie mostly with the artist.
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