It was a great week to be a fan of superteams! Along with DC’s Justice League of America #15 (no less than two weeks late) and Justice Society of America #11, we got the premier issue of the Marvel’s third volume of the Ultimates (above) which is my Pick of the Week.
What’s an Ultimate? you might ask. Well, a couple years back someone at Marvel had the beautiful idea of starting an imprint with a new continuity for all their famous characters. So when you go to Newbury Comics and look at the Marvel side of the rack along with Amazing Spider-Man, Astonishing X-Men, and Fantastic Four, you’ll also see Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate X-Men, and Ultimate Fantastic Four. This is absolutely wonderful because Marvel continuity is really hard to follow. The Ultimates are the equivalent of Marvel’s Avengers (think the Justice League, only less cool) in this imprint.
Unlike the mainline books on the Ultimate imprint, Ultimates runs in 12 or 13 issue maxiseries instead of on-going books so its been the summer since the last installment in this epic saga. Mark Millar et al blew fans away with the first two volumes of beautifully illustrated tales of alien invasion, government intrigue, foreign terrorists, and leftist Norse Gods. Unlike the Justice League, this book has been ultra-violent and full of sex. The first issue of volume 3 is no exception with images from a sex tape of two team members being released to the public and a member of team being murdered in the streets of New York winning the book a parental advisory. I have some reservations about the new writer Jeph Loeb (the mastermind of TV’s Heroes), because of the mixed quality of his work in the past. While reserving judgement until this volume really takes off, the first issue seems to be up to par. My biggest concern right now is that Mr. Loeb is changing Ultimate’s Thor from alter-globalization anti-G8 protesting, left-wing muckety muck into a hard-drinking skirtchaser. (There’s no reason he can’t be both, but interviews with Mr. Loeb lead me to believe he’s not even thinking about Thor’s left-wing aspect.)
Also premiering this week was the first issue of DC’s 4-part weekly miniseries Countdown: Arena. The miniseries ties-in to their weekly 52-issue long maxiseries Countdown and has the villain Monarch gathering different versions of DC’s favorite heroes from across the 52 universe big Multiverse to form an army to take on his rivals the Monitors. The catch is that he’s decided that he just wants the best version of each hero and to determine who wants, he has selected three versions of each hero to fight to the death. Taking characters from many of DC’s Elseworld’s stories, Newsrama has described the book as “intricately referenced fanboy thrill.” In this week’s issue we had the pleasure of seeing a merciless vampire version of Batman ruthlessly defeat a Victorian incarnation of the Dark Knight and a World War II era spy version of the Caped Crusader. Good times were had by all, except the fanboys griping about the deaths of their favorite Elseworlds characters. While this series seemed to be just about the worst idea DC’s ever had (and it’s had a lot), Keith Champagne’s writing made it bearable and actually fun to read. I’m actually looking forward to seeing three Green Lanterns go at it next week.
Also on the docket for next week: two more installments of Sinestro Corps War and All-New Booster Gold #5. Woo woo! See ya then and take care of ya’ babies.