Ultimate Comics: Avengers #2 Review

I completely enjoyed the debut issue of this title.  Millar wasted no time in restoring the glory to this title that took a serious beating during Loeb’s run on Ultimates 3.  I dig the Ultimate version of the Red Skull and am looking forward to learning more about him in this issue.  I am confident that Ultimate Comics: Avengers #2 will be another good read.  Let’s do this review.  

Creative Team
Writer: Mark Millar
Pencils: Carlos Pacheco
Inks: Danny Miki, Dexter Vines, Crime Lab Studios, Martinez and Olazaba

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 10 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin in Brooklyn, New York in 1940. Captain America is at Gail Richards’ house. Gail thinks that Steve looks pretty hot all buff on the Super Soldier serum and in his Captain America outfit. Steve and Gail get ready to have sex. Steve starts to take off his mask and Gail tells Steve to leave it on.

We cut to four months later with Gail meeting with U.S. military officials. Steve has been reported dead. The military knows that Gail is pregnant with Steve’s child. The military is concerned with the scandal of their dead national icon having an illegitimate child. The military says they will take Gail to a safe house and once she has the baby then they will put it up for adoption.

We shift to the present. We see Iron Man flying next to two large military transport planes. Inside one of the two planes is Captain America, Hawkeye and a bunch of soldiers.

Hawkeye mentions how he tried to bust Tony’s balls for not showing up for their last mission (See last issue) but he got no response from Tony. That ever since Tony killed Wolverine (See Ultimatum #5) that talking to Tony has been like talking to a brick wall.

Captain America replies that killing a man will do that to you. Hawkeye agrees that the first ten to fifteen guys you kill are always the worst. Hawkeye then tells Cap to ignore what the Red Skull said about him being Cap’s son. Hawkeye says that the Red Skull was just trying to mess with Cap’s head.

Captain America then apologizes to Hawkeye. Cap suddenly kicks Hawkeye in the face. Cap then plows his way through the soldiers on the plane. Cap blows a hole in the side of the plane. The pilot begins to panic.

Cap tells the pilot to stop whining. That they are all perfectly safe at this altitude. Captain America dives out of the plane and lands in the water below. Hawkeye radios SHIELD and says that they have a problem.

We cut to the SHIELD Triskellion where Carol Danvers and Hawkeye are meeting with Nick Fury. Nick is the only person who has the knowledge to handle the Captain America situation. Carol is less than pleased with working with Nick and would rather arrest Nick for being a criminal.

We slide over to the house of Bucky and Gail Barnes. Secret Service agents arrive to take Bucky and Gail to a safe house. Bucky is pissed and does not want to go with the government agents. Gail looks concerned and tells Bucky to do what the government agents say. The elderly couple then leaves with the government agents.

We shift back to the Triskellion where Nick is telling Hawkeye and Carol the secret about Captain America’s child. Nick says that the government never placed Cap’s son up for adoption. Instead, Cap’s son was taken to a secret government facility. Steve Rogers was the government’s one big success and Steve’s son was their second chance.

Steve’s son was raised at this facility and was constantly tested and examined to see the limits of his abilities. Steve’s son was friendly and outgoing. He was a tactical genius with a passion for learning.

Steve’s son’s real aptitude was sports. Steve’s son was so fast that they had to start testing him against people racing on motorcycles. And eventually Steve was even too fast for them. By age 14, Steve’s son had outclassed his father in almost every possible way.

Steve’s son was monitored by psychologists twenty four hours a day. Steve’s son was happy and never mentioned escaping the facility. However, that was all a part of his plan. It was part of his tactical genius.

One day, during a weight lifting test, Steve’s son decided, at age seventeen, that now was the right time for an escape. Steve’s son brutally killed the scientists monitoring his results. Steve’s son then killed 247 soldiers at the facility. The more soldiers that were sent in the more that Steve’s son killed.

Nick then says how Steve’s son got his face is what really sticks with him. Nick says that Steve’s son went into the kitchen and grabbed a large knife. Steve’s son then cut off his face which was the one his father had given him.  Steve’s son gave himself a new face.

Nick states that the Red Skull has been out there as a freelance assassin ever since. From Vietnam to the Gulf War the Red Skull has been there just under the radar. Nick says that nobody has seen the Red Skull for about ten years.

Nick asks Carol to reopen Project: Avengers and let Nick reassemble one of his old death squads and take down Captain America. Carol says that she will give Nick Hawkeye but that the rest of her Ultimates are going to stay far away from Nick’s black ops.

Nick replies that this is fine with him since Hawkeye is the only cool one anyway. Nick says that he has his own little lineup and that Tony Stark’s brother can hook them up with all the weapons and tech that Tony is too squeamish for.

Hawkeye asks Nick how much he thinks Cap knows about his son. Nick replies that he doesn’t know. But that Cap is smart, relentless and learns new skills faster than a computer so they have to assume that Cap knows everything.

We cut to Captain America at a large bank of computers. Steve accesses all the information concerning his son. Steve is stunned by what he learns. Suddenly, U.S. soldiers enter the computer room and tell Cap to freeze and put his hands in the air.

The soldiers say that they will give Cap to the count of three to comply with their orders. Cap then says “Three” and lunges at the soldiers. Cap proceeds to kick ass on the soldiers.

We hop over to the office of Stark Global Solutions in Singapore. We see Tony Stark’s brother. Stark’s assistant calls him “Mister Stark” and informs him that Project: Avengers is a go and that capturing Steve Rogers is their first priority. Stark replies that he is “Dr. Stark” and that Mr. Stark is his embarrassing little brother. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: Ultimate Comics: Avengers #2 was an absolute blast to read. Millar cranks out such an exciting issue that grabs the reader’s attention from the very start and by the end hooks the reader into eagerly wanting to come back for more.  Millar has succeeded in creating a story where the reader feels that just about anything is possible and that the reader should come to expect the unexpected.

Ultimate Comics: Avengers #2 was a well paced issue.  Millar dials up a nice balance of dialogue heavy scenes with a couple of great action scenes.  Millar definitely knows how to craft excellent action scenes.  The action scenes are always cinematic and quite cool.

This was also a well plotted issue.  Millar has this title moving forward with a point and purpose.  Milar has a clear goal in mind and is unfolding the story in a pleasant and logical fashion.  What I enjoy is how Millar is taking his time to put into place all the necessary building blocks to create a sound foundation for this story.

I also have to admit that I am impressed that Millar has been able to take certain aspects from the steaming refuse known as Ultimatum and actually use them to help grow some of the characters in this title.  A good example of this is how Millar is handling Tony Stark’s character.  Millar has Hawkeye and Captain America discuss how Tony has completely shut down in the wake of killing Wolverine during Ultimatum.

It is nice to see Tony actually dealing with his actions from Ultimatum.  Tony is a character whose life was basically nothing but one unending party.  It certainly seems that Tony’s devil-may-care attitude has come to an abrupt ending.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the hedonistic Tony that we have gotten in the past on the Ultimates.  But, it is nice to see Millar trying to add a new little wrinkle to Tony’s character. 

Millar cranks out plenty of well crafted dialogue.  Each of the characters possess their own proper external voice.  This is certainly something that was glaringly absent during Loeb’s run on Ultimates 3.  The character work was solid.  Millar understands the various characters better than anyone and it shows. 

I absolutely love the Ultimate version of the Red Skull.  I know this is tantamount to comic book heresy, but, I have never liked the 616 version of the Red Skull.  I always found the 616 Red Skull to be painfully one-dimensional, over the top and quite boring.  The Ultimate Red Skull?  I cannot get enough of him.

Now, I know that you guys are probably wondering why in the world I gave Ultimate Comics: Avengers #2 a perfect 10 out of 10 Night Girls.  The reason is the Ultimate Red Skull.  Regular followers of The Revolution are familiar with the Nazi Rule and the automatic two point deduction that is placed on any issue that violates that rule.

Well, there is the Inverse Nazi Rule where any issue that takes a Nazi character and retcons him into a non-Nazi character then that issue automatically gets a two point addition.  Therefore, this issue got a two point bump from 8 Night Girls out of 10 to a perfect 10.

I appreciated that Millar did not waste any time giving the reader the origin of the Red Skull.  Some writers would have unnecessarily teased the origin of the Red Skull for several more issues.  Such a move would have been unnecessary.  The interesting part of this story is not the mystery of the Red Skull’s origin.  Instead, the interesting part is how the Red Skull’s existence impacts Captain America.

Making the Red Skull Steve’s illegitimate child is a fantastic twist on this character.  I am immediately interested to see how this feud between father and son plays out.  I am much more interested in this father/son conflict than the same old Nazi villain routine.  Instead, Millar gives us a Red Skull who is the perfect killing machine.  Millar even makes the point to demonstrate that the Red Skull is even more powerful than his father.

Miller makes Ultimate Red Skull into a complete individualist who looks out only for himself.  Red Skull is a bad-assed unstoppable killing machine fueled by hate who sells his services to whoever can pay his price.  The Red Skull is simply the anti-Captain America.  That point is certainly hammered home when Millar has the Red Skull cut off his face that he got from his father.

I adore Millar’s Captain America.  This is by far and away my favorite version of Captain America.  I just cannot get enough of this character.  I dig how Millar handles Cap’s character and writes his dialogue.  Cap has a terse and cockiness to the way he talks and acts.  Cap is a no-nonsense soldier who has little compassion.

I also like that Millar has Ultimate Captain America a full blown metahuman.  It was cool how Nick went on about how Captain America constantly learns, adapts and improves even faster than a computer.  Millar has built the Ultimate Captain America into something so much more than just a talented solider who operates at peak ability.  Ultimate Captain America comes across as an unstoppable weapon of war. 

I enjoyed the flashback scene with Steve Rogers and Gail Richards.  It was neat seeing Steve as a young man full of optimism and love.  This was a nice way to show Steve’s character in a different light than the tough ass-kicker that we see in the present day scenes.  Flashback scenes like the one in this issue help to flesh out Steve’s past and give his character more depth.

Millar unveils the main plotline to this title with Nick Fury’s Project: Avengers.  I absolutely dig Project: Avengers.  This plotline has tons of potential.  Millar also reveals that Tony’s brother, Dr. Stark, is a part of Project: Avengers.  All we know about Tony’s brother is that he is does not share Tony’s aversion to heavy weapons tech.  This was a good hook ending that got me excited for the next issue.

Carlos Pacheco serves up plenty of nice artwork.  It is a shame that Pacheco’s excellent pencils had to get saddled with inks by committee.  The large amount of different inkers on this one issue gave Pacheco’s pencils an inconsistent look as we moved from scene to scene.

The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue.

Overall: Ultimate Comics: Avengers #2 was an exciting issue.  This title is is certain to be a hit with action fans.  Seeing both Captain America and Red Skull kicking ass is entertaining.  This title might not be a hit with readers who desire lots of substance and depth to their stories.  While Millar has a couple of neat plotlines going on this title, this issue is not terribly deep.  Ultimate Comics: Avengers #2 is geared more toward pure escapism like a cool action movie.
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Rokk

2 Comments

  1. Rokk, great review. I think you hit the main points of what makes the title so much fun to read. Millar hasn't missed a beat since his last run on the Ultimates. What makes this comic so great is that it is just like watching a summer blockbuster. It's pure escapism and in these dreary times, there's nothing wrong with that.

  2. Two points:

    (1) Although this is most definitely a Millar comic, I'm struck by how different it feels in other ways from the first two series (it's FAR more quickly paced, for instance), and I put that down to Pacheco's art. I really think Millar's keeping him in mind as he scripts this.

    (2) So not that you'd know it from his face and I presume the serum kept him from becoming feeble, but Skull must be a pretty old man by now…

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