Monday, August 15, 2005

Monday Musings, The Third

I’m really not sure what I want to talk about this week. I had planned on writing something up on this latest Punisher arc, which just finished up last week, but I forgot to bring the rest of the issues back to my apartment, so that’s out. So I’m thinking there’s the whole Fables deal, with the identity of The Adversary being revealed, but that arc also isn’t completed, so maybe what is going on now is all just a red herring. So where does this leave me? I think I will go with The Ultimates 2 Annual. Mark Millar and Steve Dillon? How can you go wrong?

Ok, first up, the story. I’m sure most people are familiar with the Ultimate Universe. While Ultimate Spidey and Ultimate X-Men are pretty much just hipper versions of the normal continuity Spider-Man and X-Men, the Ultimates is something a bit different. Yeah, it’s the Avengers, but it’s taken with a very real-world, militaristic approach. Millar really looks into the matter of how a government run super hero group would actually function, and it’s truly interesting stuff.

Millar really takes the term super soldier seriously. The Ultimates are essentially prototypes. The technology that has granted them their powers is being utilized to make reserve teams. The Giant Men have already been featured in the normal series, and the annual introduces the Rocketmen, based off of early Iron Man designs, and a group named The Four Seasons. It’s slightly chilling to think that these people are essentially being created to be living weapons. Interesting things going on with the Captain America project as well. More goings on of a certain emerald hued character not seen for some time. The Defenders are hilarious. Also, Ultimate Nick Fury, much like his Marvel counterpart, is a complete and utter badass.

On to the artwork. I’ve loved Dillon’s work since Preacher. Anything by him is instantly recognizable to me. I hadn’t really paid attention to the names on the cover, so when I opened the book up and saw the interior pencils, I was presently surprised. As most people say, Dillon is one of the masters of facial expressions. He also knows how to draw some serious action scenes, so I was a bit disappointed in the pretty much complete lack of fight scenes in this issue. Dillon is going to be working on that upcoming Nighthawk mini by Daniel Way, though, and I’ve got a feeling I’ll be seeing some excellent fights in that book.

The concept of the Annual issue is a toss-up in the comics industry. Most of the time they are throwaway stories that don’t really mean much. With the Ultimates Annual, Millar and Dillon have put together something that really gets behind the scenes of the regular Ultimates series, and sets up some interesting plot points for the future. I continue to be impressed by the entire Ultimate Universe.


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