Travelling Man's Blog

Review: The Ultimates Issue 1 by Travelling Man

ultimates issue 1Written by Al Ewing

Art by Kenneth Rocafort

Colour art by Dan Brown

Letters by VC’s Joe Sabino

Published by Marvel



One of the several unsolvable problems of comics is stasis. Batman will never rid Gotham City of crime. Spider-Man will always do whatever a spider can. The worlds we see in superhero comics are vibrant, complex, rich and fundamentally unbreakable. The song may not remain the same, but the forms of the stories always do. Nothing changes. Or perhaps more accurately, nothing changes forever.

No one told the Ultimates that.

Al Ewing is one of the best writers in the business right now and every page of this issue shows you why. It’s loose, TV-like storytelling right down to the cold open and credits spaced through Rocafort’s big, expansive panels. It’s also a comic that trusts you completely. Inside the first few pages, Blue Marvel is talking about how the universe is built and what’s changed post-Secret Wars. Inside the first half issue we get an idea of the sheer scope of the team; T’Challa introducing the Secretary General of the UN to the Triskelin, Blue Marvel and Captain Marvel on a mission in deep space and Spectrum and Miss America on a second string of the same job, on a different world. All of them get moments to breathe and T’Challa, Captain Marvel and Spectrum come out particular well. They also play like a very different kind of team. There’s almost no conflict, no sense of warring personalities. This is a group of professionals, tackling the jobs no one else can. Changing things.

Big things.

Rocafort and Brown are on top form throughout here. I’ve talked already about the expansive panels but it’s the detail that stays with you. The look on Spectrum’s face as she sees just how powerful America Chavez really is. T’Challa’s good natured and relentless explanation of how the Triskelion is essential a science and superheroics nation state. Carol Danvers using an old identity for a new purpose and clearly enjoying it. And, of course, those final pages. This is a book about big ideas, filled with big personalities. It’s also absolutely confident in its mission, just like its characters. Because, and I’m being really careful not to spoil anything here, this book is going to change things. Or at least try.

Vast in scope and brilliantly executed this is one of the best debuts you’ll read this year. Rocafort and Brown’s art is note perfect, Sabino’s lettering is clever, playful and subtle and Ewing’s script is hugely ambitious and successful. Pick it up, meet the Ultimates and get ready for a brave new world, one they’re building one solution at a time.

Review: New Avengers Inhumanity by Travelling Man

Written by Jonathan Hickman

Art by Simone Bianchi

Colours by Adriano Dell’Alpi

Letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna

Published by Marvel


The Infinity War is over, but its consequences are still being felt. On Earth 23099 the illuminati meet to discuss the coming dimensional incursion. On Earth 616, the illuminati are walked through how to make a ‘lens’ to view other universes. They are about to witness one end.
Hickman’s epic, multi-strand approach to the Avengers has incorporated the illuminati to great effect for a while now. He uses them to discuss the big societal issues that superheroes create in a way very few other writers have done and, crucially, he’s made the illuminati fun again. Here we see two versions, ours and ‘their’s’ and the differences are immense. Our illuminati are driven, often ruthless but fundamentally concerned with their actions. Their illuminati are driven, direct, brutal and doomed.

Hickman continually throws the idea of what constitutes heroism under the spotlight as we see Earth 23099 get dismantled with contemptuous ease despite the best efforts of their heroes. It’s a neat echoing of the ticking clock that’s been in New Avengers from the start of Hickman’s run. He also gets some nicely handled dark humour from Black  Swan and also explores the idea she may be the variable that saves this world. They’ll need all the help they can get too, and this issue shows what’s waiting if they fail. The Black Priests are a terrifying, almost contemptuous threat but even as we see what they’re capable of we get an idea of what else is out there. The Mapmakers, the Ebony Kings, all shining monstrosities watching us come closer, universe spanning monsters all waiting for the chance to consume the Earth. It’s a grim, almost Lovecraftian approach that’s helped beautifulky by Bianchi’s spidery artwork and the feverish colours of Dell’Alpi. Special praise to Caramagna for the incredibly creepy way the Black Priests’ speech patterns are represented.

This isn’t an essential chapter of Avengers by any means but it is a very interesting one that, I suspect, sets the tone for what’s to come. The Infinity war was the start. What’s coming is much, much worse and only the illuminati can save us. Whether they can do that, and avoid damnation, looks set to be one of the dramatic engines of the next phase of Avengers comics. I can’t wait.

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