Punchy had the pick for new comics shipping October 6th and he selected Ultimate Comics Thor #1 by Jonathan Hickman and Carlos Pacheco.
The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse's News Stand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate.
The Review Group has reviewed a lot of Jonathan Hickman in a little over a year. While S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 ranks as one of our top books we've ever reviewed, the reaction for the other four comics we've covered has been a bit mixed. The Reaction for UC Thor? It's never a good sign when the high score is a 7.5...
Review by Eli Katz
Comic books are not the same as storyboards. Comic books are not illustrated movies. Comic books are a unique art form.
It's too bad that Hickman and Pacheco don't seem to understand this. Their latest book, ULTIMATE THOR #1, is an example of a comic book trying to be like an epic movie and wasting a lot of space in the process.
I could complain about the opening page that features nothing but a large epigram: "Do you lack faith brother or do you believe?" Or I could complain about the following two pages that are filled with portentous illustrations, but that don't really tell much story. Or I could complain about the subsequent double-page spread of Nazis attacking Asgard, which, although gorgeously illustrated, could have been contained in a single splash page. Or I could complain about the overly long, almost completely wordless battle scenes between Thor and the Frost Giants that, again, don't really push the story forward.
But all of these examples are minor indulgences compared to the double-page spread dedicated to the creator credits. Yes, that's right: a two-page spread without illustrations, without word balloons, that simply headlines the names of Hickman and Pacheco. If this were the opening title sequence of a movie, it would be unremarkable. But to find this big credit inside a comic book is truly unbelievable. And unforgivable. This is a wasteful and utterly self-indulgent move, and reinforces that Hickman is the most pretentious and superficial storyteller working at the Big Two.
Combine all those unnecessary double-page spreads with all the pointless epic flourishes to emphasize how SUPER BIG this story is supposed to be, and what you're left with is an empty, unsatisfying book.
Review by Frag It
Interesting take on the Warriors Three.
I thought the frost giants wearing nazi outfits was kind of dumb.
Hooked me just enough for one more issue. Why did they never show Donald Blake's face?
Review by Punchy
Story - If there's one word which sums up the first issue of Ultimate Comics Thor, it's this;
What we have here is quite possibly a good comic, but it reads more like 3 alright comics. Hickman and Pacheco have set up 3 timelines here, and they seem at the moment rather disconnected.
The first of these timelines is described as 'Now', but is actually a few years ago in the Ultimate Universe, when Thor was in the custody of the European Union of Super-Heroes. We get a nice guest-appearance from Ultimate Captain Britain, and then... Donald Blake shows up to talk to Thor. As fans of regular Thor will know, Donald Blake and Thor are one and the same, so it's an interesting twist to have them be separate people in the Ultimate Universe. Interestingly we never actually see Blake's face, which indicates there could be a twist to come.
The second timeline is during WW2, and is set to involve a battle between Thor and a group of Nazis led by Baron Zemo. I'm surprised we haven't seen Thor take on Nazis beforehand, as it's a very good idea. Hitler was obsessed with the Occult as we all know, and there is a certain Norseness to their Aryan ideals, so it'll be good to see them get a good hammering. But this is completely disconnected from the story set in the present, what does it have to do with Thor and Blake in Brussels? Hickman also gets to play with symbols again, one of his favourite things.
The final timeline is set aaaaages ago in Asgard, and features teenaged Thor battling Frost Giants alongside his brothers Loki and Balder, forming the Ultimate Warriors Three, which is a cool nod, but I want some Ultimate Volstagg action! Once again, this is well done, but what does it have to do with Thor Vs Nazis? Or Thor in the present? At the moment, it seems like Hickman had 3 ideas of what kind of Ultimate Thor story he wanted to tell, but wasn't sure which was best, so he just did all 3.
Hopefully the next 3 issues will make these seemingly disparate story threads come together and make sense, there are references to a 'Poetic Edda' throughout, so that could definitely have some importance. But do we trust Hickman to bring it all together? Most of his other books have this same problem of disconnectedness, Fantastic Four has only just begun to tie the threads together, but is 3 issues enough?
Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy this issue, each segment was strong enough on it's own, but when there seems to be no reason why they are together, it makes an unsatisfying whole.
Art - Carlos Pacheco makes his second foray into the Ultimate Universe, after Ultimate Avengers 1, and his work is as reliable as usual. I did feel at times that Dexter Vines' inks were a bit too heavy. Pacheco misses Jesus Merino, who elected to stay at DC. Not his peak, but still strong, and a perfect fit for Thor.
Best Line - 'The world tree burns... surely this is the end of all things' Suitably ominous.
Review by GLX
There are a lot of cool elements in Ultimate Thor #1, but most of it feels like it's setting up for the other 3 issues. Carlos Pacheco and Dexter Vines do a nice job, on their end; but Edgar Delgado is the weak link of the bunch. It's not that his work is bad, but it just doesn't mix well with Pacecho and Vines' work. I'm interested to see how the mini-series will progress from here.
7.2* out of 10*
Review by BlueStreak
Ultimate Thor is the perfect example to what went wrong with the Marvel universe. Once hailed as a tighter, newer, more realistic version of the Marvel universe, it now features as many multiple characters and fuzzy continuity as its mainstream counterpart. I was a huge fan of the early Ultimate universe but after Ultimates 2, the only quality that the Ultimate universe has left is the great Ultimate Spider-Man book by Bendis.
Anyways, Ultimate Thor is another nail in the coffin for the Ultimate Universe. The book is sloppy, choppy and has only vague inclinations to where it fits in into the larger Marvel universe. Hickman continues to disappoint in writing any title not named Secret Warriors. Pacheco's art is the only highlight, and even that is tempered by the weaker than usual inking.
Overall, 6 out of 10.
Review by Amoebas
Right off the bat, after seeing this was by Hickman, I had to forget his other work (which I'm not a fan off) and try to read this as a unique item forgetting he was the writer.
Kind of hard to do with the two page credits. He seems, to me, to think he's the second coming or something. He's not, as the jumbled mess this story begins with is proof of.
First issues should be about making the reader want to see the next and I don't want to after reading this.
I have no idea who this Thor is. Is he a psyche patient or a warrior god? Nothing here made me care to find out. I'm not familiar with Ultimate Universe so I guess that means this isn't reader friendly if I'm supposed to know all ready know this.
In both his past and present he basically says "Something's coming" and I get the feeling nobody will find out what it is for issues to come. I don't have the patience or wallet to wait that long.
And if you're going to copy so many things from the regular Marvel Universe, it would have taken 10 seconds for Hickman and the editor to know that Eitri (not Ulik) forged Mjolnir.
Art wise it's a very well drawn book but the overuse of double pages is annoying and unnecessary - just padding the story out which I'm not a fan of. I realize he's just following the writer's direction but it suffers my art score for it. "Back in the day" many of these double pages would have been a single panel allowing for actual story to take place. Sadly this is not the case today and it's really not the case with anything I've ever read by Hickman.
Writing - 2
Art - 6
Overall - 4
Review by Royal Nonesuch
This was a pretty interesting comic. The fractured timeline was used well, and there was a lot of mystery and portent to hook onto. I liked that the story revolved so much around the Nazi appropriation of traditional Pagan symbols, and extended it in a comic-booky way. There was a lot of set-up, but it seems to be setting up something cool. Carlos Pacheco renders it all pretty well, but the inking is way too heavy, and the colors are far too drab, bringing the artwork down quite a bit. I jumped off the Ultimate Universe when it got Loeb'd, but I may stick with this story.
Review by John Snow
I really wanted to not like this. Ultimate Universe? Bleh! It no longer serves any real purpose other than an excuse by Marvel to publish even more comics with big name characters. That being said, I loves me some Hickman and as it turns out my Hickman love trumps Ultimate U hate because I ended up really enjoying this.
The current day portions of this story? Just okay. I could live without the Braddock stuff. The Asgard stuff was good, but nothing that hasn't been seen in Thor comics countless times before. The WW2 Zemo stuff? Awesome! Totally unexpected and made me interested in the series as a whole.
Apart from the big two page spread in the beginning, the art was just okay. I expected more from Pacheco.
Review by thefourthman
Meh. Nazis versus Thor has potential, the rest of this was just kind of all over the place for me.
Review by 48THRiLLS
I like Hickman. I like Pacheco, I like Thor. I should like this... but I did not. This was a jumbled mess, the 3 time lines were all over the place. The "now" time line I was lost on... I didn't read anything that led up to this so I don't know why Thor is in a hospital and who the people examining him were (except Blake). The "Germany 1939" time line I just didn't care about. Nazi's seem played out to me, aren't they already Cap's main thing? The "eons ago" time line seemed like standard Thor origin stuff (which I am fine with). I am sure all 3 of these time lines will tie in together and make sense eventually but I don't care enough about them to find out. I was really quite interested to see what the Ultimate version of Thor's origin would be like and see what Hickman does differently than his 616 origin but I guess I won't find out... good thing I don't care about the Ultimate U anyway.
...Oh yeah, the book was pretty and that was one of the few redeeming qualities.
STORY - 3
ART - 9
OVERALL - 5
Review by young neil
Two complaints that I've heard a lot about this issue before I even read it was the dilution of the Ultimate universe and the fact that with this issue we see yet another Thor book on the stands in time for the Movie soon to come out. To be honest these two things stopped me from pre-ordering this title when I had the chance.
Ultimate Thor has been a varying character from his initial appearance in the first Ultimate's series. Until recently the general consensus was that Thor was delusional and wasn't the Thor that he thought he was. In this issue we see the history of Thor and Asgard in the Ultimate universe. A history where the warriors three are the three sons of Odin, and a history that draws from its 616 counterpart where Loki, Baldar and Thor are sons of Odin.
One thing I've recently realized with my tastes in comics is that when there are Nazi's involved there is usually good comics to be had. Their over the top tactics and their willingness to stop at nothing creates a perfect platform for which to tell any story. In this first issue we find out that the Nazi's are going to take on Asgard, but they're not going to do it alone, they've brought in the Asgardians own enemies as back-up; the Frost Giants. Unlike many of his other works Hickman is limited to just four issues to tell his story, which seems to have reigned in his usual big ideas and allowed for a more solid and focused story.
The art was a little bit of a letdown, in recent months I've taken more notice with the art work in the books I read, and this was far from Pacheo's best work, that being said any of his work is steps above a lot of other artists out there. The fight scenes however felt well put together and my only real complaint with the art by the end was the facial expressions. They seemed off and rushed.
Marvel has been pumping out a multitude of Thor books as well as mini series', which is continually making it harder and harder to pick and chose not only which books are going to be good, but which one's you ultimately want to pick up. With that in mind I'll word it this way; Ultimate comics Thor #1 was the second best Thor book I read this month. Hickman gets his name thrown around a lot for both good and bad reasons, but he is showing time and time again that anything that he writes is worth checking out.
Review by guitarsmashley
This was an ok issue. I miss the good Carlos Pacheco. This is missing his finesse and just shows off his monkey do, monkey work style. It's ok but it just looks like cheap brian hitch. The writing was pretty standard, nothing extraordinary nothing awful. I didn't find the book a jumbled disjointed mess that certain other posters did. Either way the book was pretty average.
That gives Ultimate Comics Thor #1 a group score of 5.98. A Hickman book scored under a 6?! Oh my... I think I'm going to faint.
For what McKegan calls "all the geeky, bitchy arguing about comics you'd expect from a comic message board condensed into absolute awesomeness", check out this week's thread and post your own review in The News Stand forum.
BlueStreak has the pick for October 13th and he has selected Victorian Undead Special from the soon to be defunct Wildstorm. Look for the new thread in The News Stand forum on Wednesday morning to join in on the fun and post your own review!.
Victorian Undead Special
Written by IAN EDGINTON
Art by HORACIO DOMINGUES
The critically acclaimed series returns! London is recovering from the frightful destruction at the hands of Moriarty's undead army, and like their neighbors, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson set about rebuilding their lives. But a rash of murders leads them to believe that a zombie might have survived the quarantine and the hunt begins...leading them to the doorstep of one Dr. Jekyll!
Wildstorm | 40pg. | Color | $4.99 US
Written or Contributed by: John Snow