6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
If you set the right expectations for yourself...,
This review is from: The Ultimates: Ultimate Collection (Paperback)
If you want to read something that comes closest to the Avengers movie in terms of spectacle and modern sensibilities, The Ultimates is for choice.
This is a sort of a modern re-boot of the Marvel universe, set in the so-called "Ultimate" universe. It re-imagines the origin of the Avengers, but updated to the present day. A lot of tweaks are made to the characters, so don't expect a perfect adherence to the characterizations you might be familiar with. This is definitely new take.
Writer Mark Millar's vision and style is pretty glib, and directly informed by Hollywood blockbusters. There's a general sense of everything being over-the-top and overblown. There's kind of a Michael Bay sensibility going on. While that might seem off-putting at first, Millar's total commitment to the extreme balls-to-the-wall style is incredible fun, once you get used to it.
Millar's view of human nature is pretty nasty-- he doesn't take the proceedings too seriously, and has fun re-writing the characters stripped of the goody two shoes mentality that they were created with in the 60's. The characters are flawed, and some are self-centered and mean.
The good news is that the new characterizations allow for a more realistic human drama-- as there is room for rivalry, jealousy, greed, egotism, sexuality, and many other elements that the mainstream Marvel comics don't incorporate very well. None of these characters are born heroes- they have to earn that status in spite of some darker aspects of their natures.
The glib tone can take some getting used to. Millar doesn't take anything too seriously, and a lot of his ideas about, for example, how the military functions, seems to be drawn more from Hollywood blockbusters than from reality. Furthermore, there's clearly very little attempt to be realistic in terms of technology or physics-- there are a lot of flying aircraft carriers.
The action is on a truly epic scale. Millar's shallow conception of military and political matters is balanced by the artist Bryan Hitch's commitment to a realism, sense of scale and detail, and fantastic action choreography. The artwork perfectly captures field of vision and type of action that rivals a big-budget movie experience.
There's another great thing about this book: neither Millar nor Hitch exploit the sexuality of the female characters. The women are written and drawn realistically. There's none of the gravity-defying breast physics or skin-tight costuming that can be seen in a lot of super-hero comics.
The character of the Wasp is frequently naked, for example (you'll see why), but that's never done for the sake of titillation-- she's not drawn with some sexy body, with her butt always in the air, her body drawn in a very understated, non-sexual manner. This is a comic which respects the female characters and doesn't pander to the make audience.
To wrap things up, I highly recommend this comic. Don't take it too seriously, realize it is an alternate take on the characters, know that a lot of the characters are jerks-- with those caveats in mind, I think you'll enjoy this as immensely as I did.