They’re a new Avengers for a new world. Marvel’s Ultimate Universe places the basic premise of their favorite series in contemporary America, answering the question of what the Avengers would look like if they formed in the twenty-first century. After genuinely coming together as a team against an alien invasion despite bad first impressions, the Ultimates face infighting and politicking that create dissension and departure among the elite team of superheroes. A spy among them has leaked information to the media that they are holding the Hulk, who is responsible for ravaging parts of New York City and causing hundreds of deaths. Left with no alternative, Bruce Banner
(also known as the Hulk) is put on trial for his life. And to think, this volume only covers the first six-issues of a twelve issue mini-series.
Meanwhile, Thor, the supposed Norse God, begins to speak and act out against a conspiracy created by his trickster half-brother, Loki. His actions and Loki’s influence result in the Ultimates seeking out Thor to subdue and imprison him. But how does one defeat a god? Is he in fact a god, or just a delusional man with super-powered technology?
After his wife, Janet - the Wasp - left him for Captain America, Dr. Pym has had ample time to come up with new creations, but none of them will get him back on the team. He sets out to join a rag-tag group of second-rate team known as the Defenders. But their adventures land them on the front page of the newspaper as the laughingstock of the city. As Pym runs out of ideas, he is confronted by the traitor among the Ultimates to see if he would also be interested in betraying his former teammates.
If there is a problem with the Ultimates series, it is that issues do not come out nearly often enough. As present-day reinterpretation of the legendary Avengers, the storylines are thick with interesting new takes on classic characters. What’s more, the inclusion of current-day politics and ideology make them that much more compelling. The Ultimates do not have a unified concept of America, and their backgrounds and beliefs get in the way of their success almost as much as their villains. The complexity of the series poses hard questions about the notions and authenticity of superheroes.
This graphic novel features several full page panels depicting various characters. Many of these should be enlarged into full-blown posters; one would be hard-pressed to come up with better renditions. Action is toned down for most of this graphic novel since much of the storyline centers on aspects other than fighting. However, the climatic battle against Thor makes up for it, raging on for pages, and the art invigorates the reader as the Ultimates try everything under their belt to defeat Thor. The artistic team finely crafts the tone and shadowing in this fight fantastically.
The Avengers never felt so colorful and exciting as when they were redesigned into the Ultimates. With six more issues to be produced, one can only sit on the edge of the seat with anticipation to see what lies in store for “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.”