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: Captain America and the Mighty Avengers Issue 1 by Travelling Man

Written by Al Ewing

Art by Luke Ross

Colours by Rachelle Rosenberg

Letters by VC’s Cory Petit

Cover by Luke Ross

Published by Marvel



Everything feels…odd, post Hate Wave. Not bad, not as such but something about the world is just a little strange. There’s that stuff with the Hobgoblin doing good deeds and all the reports of heroes getting more violent and dark. The world got saved, but the world came back wrong…


Mighty Avengers has been one of the best books Marvel put out for a while now, thanks to the vast foundation of compassion Al Ewing writes these characters with. A street level Avengers unit isn’t a new idea but one that’s fundamentally, universally philanthropic is and Ewing’s excelled at exploring the various consequences of that. If you’ve not read the previous volume I’d unreservedly recommend it, if nothing else for one of the greatest She-Hulk jokes in history.

That compassion is obviously front and centre here and Ewing finds some really interesting ways to use it. The first is with Captain America, Sam Wilson these days and the casual, almost offhand brutality he uses to get the job done. Sam’s always been one of the most fundamentally decent characters in the Marvel universe and to see him casually maim people rides the razor thin line between absurd and horrifying. It gives his scenes an utterly different tempo to the norm so instead of relaxing when Cap shows up, you and everyone else, are on guard. The same thing is achieved with Luke Cage, who has turned from a man of the people to a man of the boardroom. The way these two men, and their different definitions of evil, are written tells you huge amounts amount who they really are in a way that’s clever, bleakly funny and extremely tense. That comes to the fore with a beautiful closing heist that runs from comedy to horror to tragedy and feels just as at home in all three. This is one of several books launching in the middle of extremely un new reader friendly crossovers but, unlike Spider-Woman, this actually works. Ewing’s been handed a nearly impossible job and he not only lands it, but does so with style.

The strength of the writing is matched by the strength of the art. Ross’ grounded style is exactly what the book needs and the character work is uniformly great. He’s a hell of an action artist too and there’s a particularly brutal shield throw here that will make you wince. Rosenberg’s colours match the pragmatism of the art and script and Pettit’s lettering is absolutely up to the unique challenge the book offers in that regard. The end result is a relaunch that manages to emphasize everything that makes these characters great by keeping it at arm’s length and tells a genuinely interesting story. This both isn’t, and is, what the book normally does. Either way it deserves your attention.

Review: Mighty Avengers: No Single Hero by Travelling Man

Written by Al Ewing

Pencils by Greg Land

Inks by Jay Leister

Colours by Frank D’Armata

Letters by VC’s Cory Petit

Published by Marvel



This is a book that was never expected to work. It launched in the middle of a crossover and features an artist whose work is less than popular in some circles. However, the odds being stacked against it a little actually works in the book’s favour. Because these are Avengers who like to get their hands dirty, and starting as the underdog? That just gets their attention.

Al Ewing is one of the best writers working today. There’s no other way to describe his work and he’s on excellent form here. The basic premise he comes up with is great; this is an Avengers team put together on the fly, people who don’t especially like one another but have no choice except to work together. That instantly turns one of the book’s problems into an asset; the crossover element becomes a vital part of the story and is also contained entirely within the book. All you need to know is that Earth is being invaded and these Avengers are the ones standing on the wall in New York, trying to hold the line.

That sort of narrative wit is present throughout the book as Ewing continues to expertly combine his own plot elements with the necessary architecture of the Marvel universe. The Superior Spider-Man and Blade have never been more fun than they are here and, more importantly, this is the best written Luke Cage book in years. Ewing gets Cage completely and sets him up as something genuinely poignant; he’s a good man trying to be a better one, someone who feels more than a little left behind by the massive events in his friends’ lives and seizes this as a chance to not only do good but feel like he matters. He’s both a great, and reluctant, hero and you’re rooting for him within pages of the book starting. Through him, Ewing manages to set up a street level Avengers team without any of the baggage that implies. This is a team who show up, whether the problem’s big or small and the ‘Avengers Assemble’ moment here has tremendous emotional weight. Ewing loves these characters, understands them and that makes every single beat land dead centre. Plus, he works in the single best She-Hulk moment in years and given the strength of her book, that’s saying something.

Now, let’s talk about the art. At this stage you’ve decided if you like Greg Land’s work or not. It’s much looser and more character driven here than it’s been in a while and Leister, D’Armata and Petit all do great work especially in the wonderfully squishy fight scene in the middle of the book. However, all of them come together in the joyous clash between Cage and Spider-Man presented at the end of the book. High comedy, character and near cartoon logic abounds in an issue that’s exuberant, funny, character driven and immensely entertaining.


This is one of the best Avengers books you aren’t reading. I’d do something about that. It’s an absolute treat.

Review: Mighty Avengers Issue 1 by Travelling Man

Written by Al Ewing

Pencilled by Greg Land

Inks by Jay Leisten

Colour by Frank D’Armata

Letters by Cory Petit

Published by Marvel

£2.85 or £1.99 with SuperCardGo!


Luke Cage is one of my favourite Marvel characters. He’s, as writer Al Ewing says in his closing letter here one of the only Marvel characters allowed to change and grow. Luke’s a good man with some things in his past he’d prefer not to think about and a burning desire to do better for himself and his family. He’s a good guy in every sense of the word and his presence in the Avengers books in the last few years has never been less than welcome.

He’s front and centre here in a book that manages to not only spin out of Infinity organically but also set up shop for itself very well. Cage is running Heroes for Hire again and, as is often the case, it’s not going well. His team consists of White Tiger, the new Power Man (Who wields the chi of New York itself in a particularly great twist on the character) and a whole bunch of dissatisfaction. Matters come to a head when the team is effectively gazumped by the Superior Spider-Man. Spidey calls Cage on his motives and there’s a particularly great scene where it becomes clear that Cage’s desire to look after his family and cash his paycheck isn’t exactly wrong, but isn’t in line with the heroic ideals of White Tiger for one. Cage isn’t a bad guy, but he’s a man with a different scale of vision to everyone else in the Marvel universe. It’s a really smart, complex distinction that Ewing nails down in a single page.

This level of ease with the complexities of the Marvel universe runs through the book, as Ewing sets the return of Monica Rambeau (Last seen in Captain Marvel and just as much fun here) in a superhuman costumier. This level of wonderfully mundane absurdity is where the Marvel U is at its best and Ewing cuts between that, Cage and Power Man continuing the discussion about what they actually want and all Hell breaking loose. Time and again he grounds the book, providing a street level view of the huge events in Infinity and doing so through the eyes of a disparate group of characters. Ewing’s absolutely dead on here, with his Cage and preening Superior Spider-Man especially good fun. His bone dry sense of humour is on display too, especially with the team’s mystery member The Splendiferous Spider Hero (No Hyphen). Clearly known to Monica and wearing a remarkably awful knockoff Spidey outfit, he provides a welcome air of mystery to proceedings even as New York becomes a warzone. By the issue’s end Cage has learnt something, the team have assembled and war has broken out. Cage and co have one choice and they make it without missing a beat; the Mighty Avengers are re-born.

Of course, Ewing isn’t along on this book and, despite what some of you may be thinking, the art isn’t a weak link in the slightest. Greg Land’s work is virulently hated in some quarters, largely due to his heavy use of reference but here that’s dialled all the way back. There are still some very typical Land beats but there’s also a real sense of character and subtlety of gesture and expression that folds around Ewing’s bootstraps approach to ground the book and make the characters even more human. Likewise D’armata’s rich colours and Leisten’s precision ink work combine with the script to create a book that feels unusually realistic, emphasizing the fantastic elements even more as a result. Cory Petit’s lettering is also praiseworthy, especially in the action sequences and introductory character boxes.


The issue isn’t finished when the story is though. There’s a letter at the back of the book, written by Al Ewing about his approach to the book. It’s wonderful. Very human, very honest, very positive and very Al. If you have any doubts about the book, flick through it in the store and read that letter first. You might be a teeny spoiled on the last page of the issue itself but honestly it’ll only be a little and it’ll be worth it. This is a great book with a great team behind it and a writer whose love for his work is honest and absolute. Read it and you’ll feel the same way I’m sure.

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