56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
"The Avengers" was the one Marvel Comic from the Golden Age that never really clicked for me. Since I liked the "X-Men" and "The Fantastic Four" I know it was not an inherent aversion to superhero groups. But the roster of the Avengers seemed to go to extremes. They started out power heavy with Thor and Iron Man and then went ultra light with Hawkeye and the Scarlet Witch. Coming up with villains was always a problem because you needed opponents that justified all those heavyweights. Remember, when the Avengers were first created they accounted for half of Marvel's titles.
That being said, on balance I liked "The Ultimates," the new and improved 21st century version of the Avengers written by Mark Millar ("Ultimate X-Men") and penciled by Bryan Hitch ("Justice League of America") more than the original, although certainly there are things you have to take with a grain of salt. Part of the way these Ultimate titles work is that they are aware of the characters and stories that existed in the "real" Marvel Universe and try to play off of them in new and interesting ways (admittedly, with mixed results). There is also a concerted effort to take the time to tell the tales, so that an encounter with a specific villain has a multi-issue arch, which works well with these trade paperbacks. Volume 1, "Super-Human" has to do with the formation of the group and their first collective effort to bring down the Hulk, collecting the first five issues of the series. The idea is that Bruce Banner's days as the Hulk are behind him and he is in charge of the government's effort to update the super-solider formula that created Captain America way back when. In charge of the proceedings is Nick Fury, who I believe first popped up looking like Avery Brooks with an eye-patch in the pages of "The Ultimate Spider-Man."
The story begins with the final mission of Captain America during World War II, but after that point is told in media res, with all of the superheroes who make up the Ultimates already recognized as superheroes, albeit with one large exception. The Captain America thread is the best of the bunch, with Steve Rogers getting caught up on his life 57-years later and free from that annoying guilt over the death of Bucky Barnes. It is too early to tell about Iron Man and the Tony Stark who is living the highlife and seeking adventure for very personal reasons. When the Hulk finally makes his appearance I had problems reconciling his beer-guzzling sex-driven rampage with the idea he was killing dozens of people and leveling Manhattan to get at Freddie Prinze Junior; putting a comic twist on the Hulk does not work for me (but the fear of Betty leaving Bruce Banner alone was good). Then there is Thor, "a New Age guru who may either be the living son of a Norse god...or a lunatic with a big hammer." How they are going to make this one work will be interesting. Then there is the case of Henry and Janet Pym, a volatile relationship that is heading towards the dark side and offers the Ultimates their key soap opera elements (Janet makes the big mistake of making Hank look small).
The result is good but not great, but then the entire Ultimate line point out by Marvel has proven itself to be worth at least a look by the faithful, whether you were around when the Marvel "Pop Art" books hit the stands in the early 1960s or have come to them in the age of comic book shops. Hitch's artwork sets a nice tone for the stories, especially when Thor starts going into his Thunder God routine and the opening World War II sequence. Whatever you think of Millar's innovations, you have to admit the end product comes together and is totally in the spirit of the Ultimates approach to retelling the great adventures of the original core group of Marvel characters.
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2003
The Ultimates is as original as a "re-imagining" of characters can get. This TPB collects the first six issues of the series and re-introduces us to the characters of: Captain America, Iron-Man, Thor, Giant-Man, and the Wasp. Each of the characters is handled well and Mark Millar does a good job of setting the tone of the series...which starts off slow and then powers forward to the conclusion of Issue #6.
On the weakness front we have Millar's usual M.O. of rushed storylines and too many characters. Unlike his run on Authority or Ultimate X-Men he has just enough characters to juggle without too much confusion (Thor is the only lacking character in the TPB). The only other problem that readers may face when diving into The Ultimates is that it does not tell a complete tale. This TPB was rushed out while the title is enjoying an immensely popular run so there is no 'end' to the stroyline...but there is one heck of a set-up for what will undoubtedly unfold in the second TPB.
But let's look at the strengths of the Ultimates:
1) A great WWII intro with Captain America as well as a new take on the Cap - Bucky friendship.
2) A great twist on why millionaire Tony Stark would want to be Iron-Man.
3) The strong use of SHIELD and Nick Fury in setting up the Ultimates...and then the hilarious idea that..."Now that we have a superhero team...what happens if we never have any villains to fight?"
4) A good battle with The Hulk (who is much more enjoyable to read when instead of saying "Hulk Smash!", we get..."I'm gonna rip off your head and #@!& down your neck!" It scared me.
5) Domestic violence between Giant-Man and the Wasp which was handled more powerfully than anything I'd read in a long long time. Rereading the scene and reading between the lines only helps demonstrate that these are heroes with "real world" troubles.
All in all I recommend The Ultimates. While not as strong as Brian Michael Bendis run on Ultimate Spider-Man, it does outshine the Ultimate X-Men and 95% of the comics and TPB's being published today.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2006
Story: Mark Millar, coming off a successful--if controversial due to its timing--run on Wildstorm's The Authority, helped launch Marvel's 21st century brand and is thus perhaps the perfect fit for its signature book, the Ultimates.
While some might suggest Ultimates runs too close to Authority, given the same writer as its second run, and the same caliber as the paramount heroes of a company, where Authority was a deconstruction--and almost parody--of the upper echelon of super-heroes, the Ultimates are a reconstruction.
Captain America was still frozen in ice at the end of WW2, Iron Man is still an alcoholic, Thor still the son of Odin (maybe), Hulk still a raging monster, Giant Man still giant, and wasp still tiny, only more so than ever. This Captain America doesn't forget the solider part of super-soldier, and fights (and kills) like a soldier. This iron man requires a team to get into and out of his armor, more like a jet-pilot than a guy in metal tights. This Thor is a hippie-esque environmentalist, maybe more madman than Norse god, and will only fight to save what he believes in. This Hulk, while perhaps a little too close to Alan Moore's Mr. Hyde in League of Extraordinary Gentleman, is a murderous cannibal. And this Giant Man and the Wasp take the domestic violence and abuse angle a far more realistic, and hence disturbing degree.
Set in modern times, with modern politics--including Dubbya as President, and Larry King referring to Captain America as a Person of Mass Destruction, its all familiar enough to be accessible, yet new enough to be refreshing.
The plots flow well, if a little decompressed at times, the dialog is smart if trendy, and it brings both the chills and the thrills in dynamic fashion.
Art: Bryan Hitch produces amazing action sequences (having, along with Warren Ellis, pretty much brought 'Wide Screen Violence' into the comic lexicon during the first run of the above-mentioned Authority), distinct characters, excellent historical/technical renderings, and effortless 'camera' work. When rushed, however (as the scheduling sometimes seems to make him), his anatomy can tend towards the distorted, and his faces towards the less than appealing. And, while his panel-to-panel continuity is amazing, some of his splash pages, especially those close-up on a single face, often cut the flow (though that may be Millar's script at work).
Laura Martin does her usual spectacular job on colors, and the lettering never intrudes, which is the best thing lettering can ever do.
Bonus Material: I was hoping for more here. Joss Whedon penned the intro, in typical, whimsical, style. There is a brief and somewhat insightful commentary by Millar and Hitch, but script pages (which many other collections boast) would have been nice as well. There are some pinup-like character designs, but nothing extensive. I would also have loved to see Millar's original pitch for Ultimates, and character sketches/behind the scenes development material would have made it truly Ultimate.
Good: Excellent re-imagining of Marvel's premiere super-team with gutsy twists on characterization and the tackling of controversial issues, along with some of the best set-pieces ever put to comics.
Bad: Some pacing issues, especially in the choice of splash-page placement and focus.
Overall: Highly recommended.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2005
I grew up reading comics and though I rarely read them now, this book was more exciting and well written than most action films. Even those who have never read a comic will enjoy it.
All great characters, comic or otherwise, must adapt their personas and themes for the current times. The Marvel comics company has been especially great at doing this with its superheroes.
From Captain America fighting in Vietnam to a member of the X men dying of AIDS, they have always addressed and reflected the issues of the day better than any other comic book company.
"THE ULTIMATES" is an excellent retelling of the original Avengers story, updated for the War on Terror.
There are some great twists in this landmark graphic novel.
1) captain america is rescued from suspended animation not in the 1960's , but in the 21st century.
2) Ant Man and the Wasp's domestic problems are expanded and intensified to actual domestic violence and mental illness.
3) Iron Man is not only an industrialist, but a Donald Trump like media star.
4) Thor has been reinvented to reflect the far left's views on the war on terror and U.S imperialism.
5) The Hulk is now considered literally to be a "Weapon of Mass Destruction".
I also loved the appearances of Larry King and George W. Bush in the story. Changing Nick Fury to an African American man and a burgeoning romance between Captain America and the Wasp were inspired as well.
A great, entertaining read that is also exceptionally illustrated!
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
In the beginning, there was a global altercation that became known as World War II, an altercation that plunged sons into a similar bloody chaos that had enveloped their fathers only twenty years ago. During this second World War, though, a choice was made to create a new hero and wrap him in the red, white and blue of the flag of the United States-a living, breathing, battling embodiment of strong-willed freedom. They named him Captain America, and he was every bit the symbol that those far-thinking men had hoped he would be. Only one day they lost him. The loss came as they had thought it would, in the heat of battle, warring against impossible odds for the highest stakes imaginable. Even in tragedy, Captain America still succeeded. Years later, with the future of the world in question and stakes rising around the globe, another decision has been put into play regarding the invention of not one, but several super-powered beings-and all of these heroes would come together under the close-knit supervision of General Nicholas Fury, one-eyed leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. Fury has talked the American government into reactivating the Super-Soldier program that created Captain America. Unfortunately, under its first incarnation, Dr. Bruce Banner created a rampaging entity that came to be known as the Hulk and all but got the program cancelled. Banner takes the number two spot on the new program, and the lead designer role goes to Dr. Henry Pym, who has already begun experimenting with communication with ants and size-changing powers, calling himself first Ant-Man then Giant-Man. His lovely wife Jan, hiding dark secrets of her own, is the Wasp. Tony Stark, known throughout the world also as Iron Man, has also agreed to join the team for reasons of his own. Even as the new Super-Soldier program goes on-line, Captain America turns up in suspended animation, a combination of the freezing waters of the North Atlantic Ocean and the super-soldier drug in his system. At the same time, General Fury opens negotiations with Thor, a self-proclaimed deity, environmental activist, and New Age guru, resides in Norway but has powers over the weather that no one can explain. A considerable amount of political jockeying has to take place before the team of super-powered individuals begin to assemble-and that cohesion also takes the reappearance of the Hulk, bigger and badder than ever, and way past control. If Fury's Ultimates aren't careful, they could only be singing the opening stanza of their swan song.
Mark Millar, author of THE ULTIMATES, has also written THE AUTHORITY, ULTIMATE X-MEN, THE FLASH, SUPERMAN ADVENTURES, VAMPIRELLA, and THE COLUMN for Comic Book Resources. Bryan Hitch has drawn for JLA, THE AUTHORITY, MARTIAN MANHUNTER, and WILDCATS.
Anyone who has read comics, especially Marvel Comics, is familiar with the genesis material for this Ultimate Marvel series. The original Avengers (Thor, the Hulk, Iron Man, Ant-Man, and the Wondrous Wasp) gathered to defeat the menace of Thor's evil half-brother Loki in the 1960s. Comic books have never been the same since. THE ULTIMATES: SUPER-HUMAN is clearly a 21st century relaunch on that comic. Mark Millar brings darkness and a razor-edged thrill to the series. All of the characters have been made over in his or her own image, but with new oddities and twists that increase long-time readers' interest with a new look at favorite heroes, and offer an organic history of very real characters for the uninitiated. In some ways, the flow of the story seems very familiar: the Hulk is a rampaging monster trapped inside weak Bruce Banner, Captain America is rescued from a frozen wasteland after being preserved in suspended animation, Hank and Janet Pym are married, Thor was an emergency medical technician till something changed him into a Norse god (or revealed that aspect of himself), and Tony Stark/Iron Man is a rich playboy. But the spins that Millar brings to the characters and to the stories are unique and the stuff from which successful series spring from and run for years. Bryan Hitch's artwork is jaw-droppingly beautiful, panels and splash pages of action and character interplay that seizes the eye and just won't let go. Even after a reader has finished the graphic novel, he or she will probably find himself or herself wandering back through the pages just admiring the art. The decision to set the first issue back during World War II was dead-on. Seeing Captain America in action, especially dressed in Hitch's take on the familiar red, white and blue uniform (complete with pistol, ammo belt, and helmet) draws the reader into the story with the urgency of an all-or-nothing mission in the final days of the war. The final couple pages showcasing Tony Star atop a snow-covered mountain peak, knowing he is Iron Man, whets the appetite for the next issue. Each of the six issues of the monthly comic gathered in this graphic novel lends itself to the next, building on the action and sharp character byplay of the previous issue.
THE ULTIMATES is recommended to regular AVENGERS fans and to anyone who is only now discovering the breathtaking world of the graphic novel. Readers that have learned to enjoy the graphic novel medium can't afford to pass up on a book that is definitely going to be an award contender.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2005
The Ultimate line of comics is an alternate universe for Marvel characters. It was originally conceived to take a fresh look at characters that have 40 years of complicated history and continuity. Setting their origins in the present and doing modified takes on the characters and events has for the most part added a really fresh twist.
While characters like Spiderman and the X-Men have remained firmly grounded in their essentials, the Avengers (here dubbed The Ultimates) are a radical departure from their counterparts in the mainstream Marvel universe.
Rather than Marvel's answer to the Justice League - the greatest individual heroes teaming up - the Ultimates are a paramilitary force of the U.S. government. Their leader is Nick Fury, a calculating spymaster (and dead ringer for Samuel L Jackson, whose badass tude he borrows).
Captain America remains mostly the same, but his sense of loss, what with being a man out of his time, is very heavy. Iron Man, far from conflicted, is a sex-and-booze addicted billionaire. The Wasp and Giant Man are an epically dysfunctional couple. Thor is a left wing political activist.
While very different, none are quite so far from their origins that they feel wrong. And their adventures have a film noir feel (excellently enhanced by Hitch's dark artwork) with themes that are logical, but not for young kids. While supervillains feel right at home in Ultimate Spidey, it's hard to imagine Baron Zemo in the world of the Ultimates.
Cannily, this introductory volume focusses on the characters, but also features a terrific fight scene when the team takes on the Hulk.
It all comes together very well, and comics fans will definitely like it.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2004
Not particularly fond of Marvel's Ultimate line, I usually approach any of Marvel's 'Ultimate' series with hesitation. However, I was never that big into the Avengers, so I figured I would give The Ultimates a shot, and I was very pleased with the results.
Once again re-imagining and re-telling the story of one of their most famous super groups, Marvel captures a whole new dimension of story-telling with the Ultimates. Making them seem like real, ordinary people with real problems is probably one of the best parts of the entire story. Of course, there is plenty of action and fighting to go around too. Alot of the character's origins and general appearences have been changed too. For example, instead of Tony Stark having a terminal heart condition, he now has an inoperable brain tumor. Nick Fury is probably the most dramatic change, in that instead of being a grizzled, cigar chomping World War II veteran, he's a blatant Samuel L. Jackson look-alike with attitude and spunk. An interesting reworking of Fury, but I could've done without it, despite how it fits with the story. Hank Pym and his wife Jan Pym, Giant Man and Wasp respectively, have marital problems, with Hank being an abusive, chronic alcoholic. The entire comic seems to revolve around the telling of everyone's personal lives, which gives all the characters alot of depth. Finally, Thor is the son of Odin from Asgard who has spent more than his fair share of time in a mental institution, and is now a peace-loving pacifist...until it comes time to defend the world.
From Tony Stark's pompous, rich jerk attitude to Captain America's good old American spirit, The Ultimates is definitely worth the read. The interesting spin on the Hulk and other story elements make this one of the best Marvel re-tellings yet. The only thing that bothered me was that the comic got a bit too political at times. I appreciate seeing the inclusion of real-world problems into the comic, making it that much more realistic and adult, but sometimes it got just a wee bit critical and outspoken. But all in all, The Ultimates was a fantastic read that I just couldn't put down. When I got to the end I was thirsting for more, and The Ultimates: Volume 2 definitely delivers after this great introduction. Great job from Marvel.
68 of 88 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2003
More `adult' re-imagination of the formation of Marvel's premier super team The Avengers, which begins with the final World War II mission of Captain America and touches on the ups and downs of the founding members, Giant Man, The Wasp, Iron Man, The Hulk, and Thor, throwing in Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.
The art is quite good, and while the story moved well, I had some problems with a few of the characterizations (though these could be a matter of personal taste). The author plays around a bit with established canon for the sake of this new universe, and that is understandable, but changing the Hulk into a raging, oversexed skirt-chaser was a little bit...well, dumb to me. I also didn't care for Nick Fury's recasting. The art and the writing SO made him look and seem like Sam Jackson that it kind've didn't ring true for me that this was supposed to be Nick Fury. He was too suave and cool. The authors of The Ultimates seemed to have a good time casting their characters with real life actors (there is one sequence where the newly discovered by the media team sits around and speculates on who would portray each of them in a Hollywood adaptation.), but personally, I didn't care for all the pop references (reverences?). I'd like to think that a molecular biologist and the leader of Shield would be a little less like fanboys. Fury's supposed to be this grizzled cigar chomping ex-GI a la Sgt. Rock, but he comes off more as Tony Stark with an eyepatch here (for the record, Tony Stark doesn't look anything like Johnny Depp in his rendering, either - he looks more like Jonathan Frakes from Star Trek). Most of the other characterizations didn't bother me. Portraying the Wasp and Giant Man as having such extensive, violent domestic troubles went a long way to humanize them, and turning Jarvis, Tony Stark's faithful butler into an aging homosexual (wearing a colorful vest to gain Thor and Cap's attention...) was pretty daring. Didn't like Tony Stark's Iron Man armor though - he looked like a Micronaut. I would have liked to have seen more of Thor, but I'm not sure I cared for his reinvention as a hippie pacifist eco-warrior - the Norse god of Thunder??? At Ragnarok this guy drowned in the venom of a giant serpent he slew, and here we find him hanging out with that guy with the guitar on the stairs in Animal House...
But these are minor quibbles, again, possibly a matter of my own personal taste. There is a lot to like about The Ultimates - a lot to make it stand above the normal superhero fare. The rivalry between Dr. (Giant Man) Pym and Bruce (The Hulk) Banner is very well played out - the frustrations and the pettiness of these two in their race to perfect the next big superhuman for the team is like watching Dr. Jekyll try to outdo Dr. Frankenstein. Pym comes off as a selfish egomaniac who will posture and fabricate to protect his reputation, whereas the more honest Banner is something of a maladjusted loser. Both are well realized and interesting to watch. Its a great juxtaposition when you consider that Pym is something of a monster (which is apparent in the final pages - that scene with him wearing the ant helmet `You shouldn't have made me look small...' creepy!) trying to be a good man, and Banner is a good man who wants to be a monster. The motivation for Tony Stark's desire to join the team as Iron Man is revealed in a touching manner (possibly the best dramatic scene of the book, toward the end where Thor, Stark, and Cap are sharing dinner at Stark's penthouse apartment) and goes a long way in making me like the playboy, who I will confess never interested me much in the past. Captain America and his story arc comes off the best (which as an ardent fan of ol Winghead, is fine by me) - the reunion with an elderly Bucky (I know, I know, Bucky's dead!... But it didn't bother me) near the beginning of the book is heartfelt and nicely done. There's a good sense of humor to this story too - Giant Man's embarrassing habit of growing beyond the capacity of his clothes (and the dismay of his colleagues), Cap's mistaking Fury and Stark and the Marines for Nazi agents when he awakes, The Hulk's rage at Freddy Prinze Jr. (go get him, Mr. Fixit! Captain America, indeed. I, along with Millar, see no one but Brad Pitt behind the big round shield), and those few panels where George W. Bush meets Steve Rogers made me smile (the Prez's expression is hilarious - `Cool or Uncool?').
In closing, an interesting read, but I was put off by The Hulk and Sam -I mean Nick Fury. And all the pop culture references can be done away with. Underneath the foil and hologram is a good read, that interested me enough to want to see where these characters are going. Keep in mind that this is more of an adult read - at least age fourteen and up. Oh, and in spite of my dislike of casting, I can't resist - Valdmir Kulich (Buliwyf from The 13th Warrior) as Thor...
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2009
Before I continue I should qualify my position as a 616-loyalist (that's the standard canon marvel universe). As such, my opinions are colored by my affection and appreciation of the Ultimates' 616 counterparts, the Avengers. The general purpose in creating the Ultimate Universe was to make marvel comics accessible to new readers who didn't want to wade through 40+ years of convoluted continuity, so maybe this comic just wasn't designed for me. Or maybe as a twenty-something female, I was simply not of the right demographic. What I found upon reading Ultimates Vol. 1 and Ultimates Vol. 2 was a sleazier take on Earth's Mightiest Avengers. In their attempt to make the Ultimates relevant to our contemporary world, they succeeded in gutting them of anything likable or endearing.
The product description describes Hitch and Millar's ambitions for the Ultimates as an attempt to "[reinvent] the Avengers, the Mightiest Heroes of Marvel's Earth, into a more contemporary, less optimistic team." If this truly was the goal that they or that others, such as EIC Quesada, charged them with, then it's easy for me to see that project was doomed from inception. The Avengers were never known for their optimism--in fact, since the Avengers first formed in the 60's, it was quite clear that though these characters banded together to save the world time and time again, they didn't always get along, and they didn't even necessarily all like each other. They were a dysfunctional group from the outset, and so for Hitch and Millar to aim to make them *less* optimistic, their starting point was dangerously close to what, in TV land, is termed "jumping the shark". In other words, by starting at an extreme, they had no where to go but more extreme.
Their efforts led to the creation of characters who contained ghosts of their 616-counterparts' ails, and a whole lot of sleaze. It cheapened the shock value of certain character revelations by ramping them up to the point where their ridiculousness is distracting. Let me provide two examples. Since "Demon in a Bottle" and his revelation as an alcoholic, Tony Stark (Iron Man) has fought to stay on the difficult road of sobriety. It seems only natural, then, that this newer Tony Stark would also have problems with alcohol. It's also natural to place him in the early stages of alcoholism wherein his issues with alcohol are not necessarily obvious except to a trained observer (not to mention those of us who are familiar with his character) to set him up for the "big reveal". Finally, it makes sense to establish alcohol as significant in Stark's life so that when he *is* labeled as an alcoholic, it makes sense to the reader.
What does not make sense, to me, is Tony Stark admitting *on live television* that he knocked back a few drinks before climbing into the Iron Man armor to take down the Hulk. This may come off as a minor complaint, but to me it was incredibly distracting that no one, reporter or otherwise, stopped to inquire as to the wisdom of operating something capable of mass destruction while under the influence. If it had been a set up for a showdown between Fury and Stark, where Fury lambastes Stark for being so incredibly stupid, then I might be able to get past it, but it wasn't. Thus, Millar baldly violated the "show, don't tell" rule of writing. Instead of going for subtlety, he went for shock, and the effect was distracting.
The second example is the more egregious of the two: Hank Pym (Giant Man) and Jan Pym (Wasp) and their doomed relationship. By taking a (presumably) isolated incident of domestic abuse that was meant to demonstrate Hank's slip from sanity and turning it into a full scale blood match between husband and wife, Millar cheapens domestic abuse in the same sense that the Jerry Springer show does: it sensationalizes it, removes it from the realm of relevance by making it seem the stuff of movies and reality TV. When Betty (the Hulk's on again, off again girlfriend) admits to seeing Jan with "chunks of hair missing" during years of abuse, then sheepishly defends her choice not to step in and say something by insisting that it wasn't her business, the story loses any shred of plausibility, and sacrifices its moral voice. By going for cheap shock effects, by favoring showy over subtle, the end result is a shallow story that reads like the blockbuster that Marvel presumably intended it to be.
Not to suggest the Ultimates are all bad. The art is decent, and the writing (once you get past the distracting bits) is good enough to keep you reading for the entire thirteen issue run of the series. Nor are all the characters unlikable: I found the Ultimate versions of Captain America and Nick Fury to be almost as interesting as their 616 counterparts, and perhaps given the right amount of development (there is only so much you can do over thirteen issues) they might be equal in my eyes. Ultimate Thor was actually a lot of fun to read, but I never was much of a fan of the original Thor, and thus didn't have a strong opinion of how Thor should be going in to the series.
Bottom line: If you're into comics for the shock and awe, then the Ultimates are for you. If you favor subtler character development, more nuanced story lines, and more likable characters--pick up a couple omnibuses from the original Marvel Universe to catch you up to speed. I recommend Bendis' Daredevil, New Avengers, Alias, Brubaker's Daredevil and Captain America, and Fraction's Iron Fist.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2004
This fantastic collection of the first 13 issues of The Ultimates is a truly great and original comic. Forget everything you know about the Avengers. Aside from common names and similar origins, the characters that make up this team are much different than their mainstream Marvel counterparts. The biggest difference is that all of the characters here are rife with human flaws and singular viewpoints. Each character is truly different from the others, which makes for some real interesting chemistry and fireworks between them.
This team is a government-funded team of super-beings, employed to battle the worst threats that america may ever face - known or unknown, seen and unseen. This collection is very human in the telling, which makes it a real joy to read through. I enjoyed each character's individuality - in look, speech, attitude, and character flaws.
The book is filled with action, bits of humor, political satire, and top-notch art. I gave this book a five-star rating because I just really enjoyed the writing, the art, and the overall concept. I would not recommend this book for kids under 13, however, as there are things in the book that are made for a more mature readership. If you're redy for a fresh, new, realistic take on some classic heroes, though, this is just the book you're looking for!