Ultimate Comics Avengers #1 Review

After going through the event that will not be named I can’t think of anyone better to fix the problems of the Ultimate Universe than Mark Millar. Even though Ultimates 1 and 2 were heavily delayed, Millar still deliver a great story in both series. I expect Millar, along with new Marvel artist Carlos Pacheco, to provide a solid beginning with Ultimate Comics Avengers #1. Let’s see if they can deliver.

Creative Team
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Carlos Pacheco
Inker: Danny Miki
Colorist: Justin Ponsor

Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: The issue begins with Nick Fury standing in front of SHIELD headquarters, which is still in re-construction.  In disbelief, Nick says “I disappear for ten minutes and the whole place goes to hell.” (You want to know what happened, Nick, two words: Jeph Loeb. Do I have to say more?)

Nick tells Hawkeye that he told everyone that they should have put down Magneto long ago. Hawkeye says he is sorry Nick lost his job but Nick has to accept what he did.

Hawkeye tells Nick that he has come make Nick an offer.  Nick ask what is it. Hawkeye says that Captain America has gone rogue and the story is getting out to the public which has lead to SHIELD hunting Captain America down. Nick ask what happened with Captain America.  Hawkeye tells Nick that Captain America found out about Red Skull.

We cut to a flashback to the day before in Chicago were Hawkeye is hanging off an AIM helicopter.  Hawkeye is calling out for help from Captain America.  A bomb goes off in the building next to the helicopter.  An AIM soldier gloats that Captain America was killed in that bomb explosion.

Suddenly, Captain America rides a motorcycle out of the building.  Captain America yells “Yeah, right. What kind of girl gets stopped by a bomb?”  Captain America and the motorcylce fly through the air and into the helicopter and proceeds to beat up all of the AIM soldiers in the helicopter. Captain America throws the AIM soldiers out of the helicopter and to their deaths.  Hawkeye has the pilot keep the helicopter flying.  They close in on a second AIM helicopter.

We cut to the SHIELD monitor room where Carol Danvers has finally located Tony Stark.  Tony is in an S & M strip club getting drunk. Carol reprimands Tony for going AWOL and not helping Cap and Hawkeye on the mission at the Baxter Building.

Tony tells Carol that he is still terribly depressed over the Wolverine thing and his therapist told him to submit to his urges. Carol calls Tony a disgrace.   Tony tells Carol to relax as tomorrow morning’s hangover will his own personal apocalypse.

Back in Chicago, we see Captain America jump into the second AIM helicopter.  Captain America takes out all of the AIM soldiers.  Suddenly, the Red Skull appears behind him and starts beating the crap out of Captain America.  The Red Skull comments if Captain America is wondering how Red Skull could kick his ass so badly.

Captain America is about to pass out when the Red Skull grabs him by the head and whispers something into his ear. Red Skull then throws Captain America and then his shield out of the helicopter.

Hawkeye sees Captain America being thrown out and dives out of the first helicopter.  Danvers screams to Hawkeye through his ear communicator that Hawkeye’s odds of catching Captain America are slim to none.  Hawkeye comments that he never misses.  Hawkeye is able to reach Captain America.

Carol yells that Hawkeye has no parachute.  Hawkeye tells Carol to relax and that Cap’s parachute should do fine.  Hawkeye then opens Captain America’s parachute before they hit the ground.

Carol asks Hawkeye if he knows that he is insane. Hawkeye retorts by saying she should mean he is awesome.

Hawkeye and Captain America land in the middle of a park.  Hawkeye asks Captain America who he was he fighting in the second helicopter.  Captain America tells Hawkeye “He said he’s my son.” End of issue.

Commentary
The Good: Ultimate Comics Avengers #1 was a great, albeit short, read. Even with how bad Loeb wrote Ultimates 3 and Ultimatum; Mark Millar made this issue feel like he never left the Ultimate Universe. In truth, Ultimate Comics Avengers feels like what Ultimates 3 should have been and that is what I am treating this series as.

My favorite part of this issue was the first few pages were Millar took a shot at Loeb’s run on Ultimates 3 and Ultimatum. It was good way to show the fans of his work of the Ultimates that now that he is back things are going to be great again.

The strength of Ultimate Comics Avengers #1 is that Mark Millar does not waste any time giving the reader the mission statement for this series and the first story arc. Even though this was a very action heavy issue we still were able to get some answers while also having some questions once the issue ends. And for the first issue of a series this is an important thing to do as it makes the issue more of a satisfying read.

I appreciate that Millar did not waste time with the big revelation that Red Skull whispered to Captain America. It has become common place in the current made for TPB story telling format that big revelations will not be made until at least the second or third issue.

Millar eschews that format and lets the reader quickly learn that Red Skull may or may not be Captain America’s son. It is a great way to hook the reader to come back next month to find out if the Red Skull is telling the truth or just trying to get in Captain America’s head.

I like that Millar took measures to make Ultimate Red Skull not just be a copy of the 616-version and give him a much different look.  However, Millar still kept the most of the key characteristics of the original 616 character. It became a problem that late in the life of the Ultimate characters, outside of Ultimate Spider-Man, that the reader was presented characters that were almost identical to their 616-versions.

I thought it was a great move for Millar to make Red Skull much more of a physical threat by having him kick the crap out of Captain America. It makes the character look like more badass.  We know Red Skull can still play the mind games with characters, as he also showed in this issue.  However, the addition of a more physical presence to Red Skull adds much more to his character.

Millar also does a great job showing Ultimate Captain America as a man who does what he needs to do to complete a mission even if it means killing. What I especially liked about the fight scenes between Captain America and the AIM soldiers is that Millar let the art tell the story and did not give Captain America any dialogue during the whole fight; even when he was (trying to) fighting Red Skull.

Even though this approach made the issue go by faster it was a much more effective way to show the reader, especially new ones, who Captain America is and how he differs from the 616-version.  And showing rather than telling is always the better approach. 

I may be biased, as I am a fan of both Captain America and Hawkeye, but it was great to see Captain America and Hawkeye team-up for this mission. The characters had nice chemistry together. And, just as Hawkeye told Carol in this issue, Hawkeye was indeed awesome with everything he did in this issue.

Millar also writes one of the best versions of Tony Stark. Just as Millar did in his Ultimates run, Millar shows us more of the “playboy drunk off his ass” Tony Stark that we have not seen from the character in the regular 616-version. Tony’s whole scene at the S&M strip club and telling Carol over the phone that he was just doing what his therapist told him to do was a great and nice way to inject some comedy into an action heavy issue.

I am glad to see Carlos Pacheco finally get some more mainstream work. Pacheco really got cheated with Final Crisis as he was used as nothing more than a filler artist in the series between the other two artists. While Pacheco’s art in this issue was not as great as it usually is, it was still some great artwork.  Pacheco’s artwork also got better the more the issue progressed.

Pacheco did a fine job mixing in Bryan Hitch’s wide screen blockbuster look that the Ultimates has been known for.  This approach worked well for the opening chapter of this story that was very action heavy.

The Bad: Though I loved Ultimate Comics Avengers #1, there were a couple problems with this issue. The first thing is that for a comic that cost $3.99 there wasn’t much content provided by this issue. Ultimate Comics Avengers #1 was a very quick read which, in the long run, will turn readers off since Marvel is not providing much bang for your buck.

While increasing the page count would work, I think what Marvel really needs to explore is, instead of publishing a fourth Ultimate Comics title, that they should put back-ups in this title and in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man.  The back-up stories could be utilitized to relaunch the other aspects of the Ultimate Universe.  The addition of the back-up stories would beef up the content of both Ultimate Comics titles and make the $3.99 more justified and, therefore, more palatable to the reader.

Also another problem that I had with this issue is that the reader did not get a good sense of who will make up the roster for the Avengers.  The only characters that we see in this issue were Captain America, Hawkeye, Iron Man, and Nick Fury. This issue was more of a Hawkeye/Captain America team-up issue than an actual team story. Hopefully, the team will consist more than just these four characters as it won’t feel like an Avengers title if we don’t get one or two more heroes mixed in.

The only other problem I had with this issue is Hawkeye’s costume. I am just not digging this look to Hawkeye. There is just something about the costume that makes me not take the character very seriously. I wish Millar would have given Hawkeye the black-ops look he had back in his first appearance in the Ultimates.

Overall: Ultimate Comics Avengers #1 was a fantastic start to the new start of the Ultimate Universe. Though this was a very action heavy issue, Millar did an excellent job hooking the reader with this first issue. If you can get past the $3.99 price tag of this issue than I recommend picking this issue up.
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Kevin

8 Comments

  1. Awesome indeed. Millar was just what the Ultimates (excuse me, Avengers) needed, and he shouldn't ever have left.

    The first lines Fury said were the same thing I said every time I turned a page of The Event That Will Not Be Named. I'm so glad he's back.

    Captain America was brilliant and hardcore! In one of the panels he's just tossing a couple of apparently already beaten A.I.M. soldiers! 616 Cap would have just left them on the helicopter after knocking them out and getting a few broken bones would be the worst case scenario for them, but this Steve Rogers proves you really don't want to mess with him.

    I wonder if Tony will stay in the sidelines for the duration of the arc. His brother is supposed to appear, and a conflict will surely arise from that.

    Red Skull rocks, man. I certainly hope they don't make him a nazi or a white supremacist of any sort, just to have him clash with Cap. Hell, given the ultra-conservative stand Ultimate Cap has and how violent he is, I would find it hilarious if he turned out to be an extreme leftist.

    I was surprised that Red Skull kicked Cap's ass so easily. I mean, Cap stood against the Hulk and the Chitauri boss (both written by Millar) and even then he didn't get owned like that. How strong is Red Skull really?

    Will it be so much to ask that this arc arrives on time? I hope not.

  2. This was pretty good, and I agree with everything you said. Red Skull was a cool redesign of the classic character without making him a carbon copy of the original 616 version.

    Plus, Tony was hilarious. Though, I have to ask, when is that tumor supposed to strike?

    Lastly, Millar said in an interview, that Ultimate Avengers would be an "Event" book, not necessarily a team book. So, the Ultimates might not be in every arc. That would explain why the new team wasn't fully shown yet.

  3. "Yeah, right. What kind of girl gets stopped by a bomb?"
    LOL I was so happy to see via this review that Cap got his @$$ whooped. To bad he didn't die. Precisely why I have never bought into the Ultimate line and never will.

  4. Don't sweat it Andrenn, I like your review, I just disagree with part of it 😉 You are right when you say it was too short. Then again, I know that Millar writes short and fast comics, it's just his style. Old Man Logan is an example of that. It starts to annoy me when you get one short issue every four months. As long as he delivers on schedule, I'm okay.

  5. Kevin: I didn't have a problem with the violence. I just had a problem with the typical sexist comment of Ultimate America that I am sure every fan boy looks over without batting an eye. I guess we live in a post sexist world so its okay.

  6. @Anonymous: Dude, it's Ultimate Cap. He's a right-wing pro-war 30's kind of guy. He's the alfa male, plus he hates the French. I think comics are sexist (look at women's portrayals in comics, nuff said) but this is just Ultimate Cap's banter. I don't think it can be viewed as offensive as "You think this letter on my head stands for France?"

  7. Hi guys; not trying to be obtuse. I see your point of views. Ultimate America is a product of his time. And I agree not every character will be PC. But what if Millar had him say "what kind of Yellow ***" (in reference to cowardly asians) instead of the word girl? Due to the character's time period the racist beliefs would be there as well.
    Why didn't Millar bring out Ultimate's racist side? Because racism is not ok while sexism at some level will always be ok.

    on the side I am also hoping red Skull is not some Nazi loser; they have so over played that story line in comics.

  8. How is that Millar is the only writer to produce a Steve Rogers and a Tony Stark who have personalities (sorry, Iron Man fans; I love him too, but until Ultimates and the movie he was always fairly generic, just rich too – and the less said about the whole Jesus-Christ-As-American-Patriot Cap, the better)? Amazing.

    About the sexism:

    Y'know, I completely understand the points that people like the anonymous poster are making when they say that his comments are sexist. I've never even been able to come up with a rebuttal. And WWII and the current Iraq and Afghanistan Wars have all shown how well women can fight on the battlefield. So as far as I can tell they're right.

    But somehow as often as I've willed myself to not refer to this group as that or that group as this when people have called me on such matters, I am incapable of caring about comments like Cap's.

    I don't know what immutable thing exists within me that says "Screw it" when people complain about that, but it's there and it doesn't seem to be leaving.

    And if that's really the worst that they have to put up with, considering the history of the Earth I'll just call 'em lucky.

    Jimmy Bag: it might not be that Red Skull is stronger than the Chitauri or Hulk, just far better trained in hand-to-hand.

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