Ultimate Comics Avengers #1 - 'The Next Generation Part One of Six' - Millar, Pacheco and Miki
Story - I must admit, this review may be a little biased. Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's work on Ultimates 1 and 2 is one of my favourite comics runs ever, it has everything I like, complex characterisation, big action, moments of humour and beautiful art, and to me, this sequel (minus Hitch, but with the great Carlos Pacheco) is more of the same, and it's good to have it back. Jeph Loeb may have fucked up the Ultimates and then the whole Ultimate Universe, but Mark Millar is back to save us.
He kicks the issue off in grand style, Nick Fury exclaiming 'What the Fuck?, I disappear for 10 minutes and the whole place goes to hell!', this is more than just the character expressing shock at the events of Ultimatum, this is Millar himself, commenting on what's gone on since he left, how Loeb messed with it. And mess with it Loeb has, the whole of NY is flooded, you can see the water everywhere, Hank, Jan and Thor are dead, and Tony Stark is even more messed up than usual. I can't see how anyone can complain that this issue didn't acknowledge Ultimatum, or, as Tony puts it, in his usual glib style 'The Wolverine thing'.
The impact of Ultimatum leaves us with only 2 Ultimates available to deal with an AIM robbery of the Baxter building, and the majority of the issue is Cap and Hawkeye fighting these Science Terrorists in the skies above Chicago. And what a fight! This thing is beautifully choreographed, it's all in the air, and there are panels of our heroes leaping through the sky that are genuinely jaw-dropping, it's almost balletic, but with explosions. This is a continuation of the wide-screen style Millar used in Ultimates, and it adds a sense of awe that many superhero fights lack, and for a series that purports to exist in a more realistic world, this is an important touch. It was just fun to watch this fight play out really, that's all I can say, it was cool.
Millar also has our heroes engage in some choice witty action movie banter, but this isn't just shallow, or empty fighting like Michael Bay movie. This is what Millar does in the Ultimates, the first issue of both volumes there were mainly action sequences too, Millar is treating the first issue like the pre-credits scene of a James Bond film, get us hooked with some eye-popping action, and set the tone for what is to come. Or perhaps that should be who is to come, and that who is the Red Skull! Attacking Captain America and defeating him easily, this Ultimate version of the classic villain is one tough cookie, and he has a twist, after Hawkeye enacts a daring aerial rescue (that was awesome, so cool), we learn that the Skull is in fact Captain America's son! Now I've known about this for a while, Millar was talking it up at a convention I attended way back in November, but still, it's a ballsy move, and I can't wait to see where this goes, and how it works.
This issue is not perfect, perhaps the fact that it is pretty much all an extended fight scene makes it seem slight and empty, and I felt a bit of that, I am used to reading The Ultimates in the hardcover format, all 13 issues at once, and not in monthly (or whenever it comes out) chunks, but I feel that this action sequence was good enough, and the final page hook interesting enough, that it makes up for it, looking back at the first issues of the previous volumes, they may have seemed in consequential at the time, but they were important in setting up the rest of the plot (the device AIM stole is described as Reed Richards' masterpiece, I'm sure it will be important) and also the feel of the book; this was an exercise in style, a statement of intent. Millar is back, and he's as good as ever, future issues promise more characters, in particular new characters, but this issue re-establishes Millar's take on this team, after the way too frenetic pace of Ultimates 3, where so many random events were happening you didn't know what to do, Millar slows us down and gives us a great action sequence. If you like what Millar did before, this is more of the same, and it's great.
Art - I've been a Pacheco fan for a while, his work on Avengers Forever, and also his creator-owned Fantasy War Story (with Kurt Busiek) Arrowsmith are my favourites, and it's been frustrating seeing DC use him so little during his exclusive, he did 5 issues of Green Lantern, and then his Superman run came out in fits and spurts, and was over-shadowed by Johns and Kubert, and then he was a fill-in monkey on Final Crisis. It's good to see him back on something higher-profile. I think he may have adjusted his style a little, make it a bit more Hitchian, but that's not a problem. As I mentioned, his choreography of the fight scene was fantastic, it flowed so well, and I loved his redesign of the Red Skull. Top stuff, can't wait to see how he handles the rest of the characters, and how his fight-scene chops hold up when there's more than 2 characters.
Best Line - So many to choose from! I think it's either 'What kind of Girl gets stopped by a bomb?' or 'I believe you mean awesome', or even 'Ruthless oppurtunists'
8/10, It may not be the best thing ever like I thought it might, because of the book being mainly a fight, but it was a great fight, and I trust in Millar to build on it. The fact that I've known the Red Skull's identity for 8 months also knocks it down, if it was a total surprise, this would be a 9.
Last edited by Punchy
on Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.