This is Propaganda, I’m Richard Bruton and this is what I’ve been reading lately:
Written by Jeph Loeb,
Art and cover by Joe Madureira and Christian Lichtner
This was truly, absolutely, quite amazingly bad. I’d like to think that whoever put it into my box at Nostalgia and Comics did so for a joke, because I can’t honestly think why anyone would deem this god-awful mess worthy of even five minutes of my time.
Although having said that, there’s so little story or plot here that five minutes is probably a little long. More like 2 minutes.
You may or may not know the background to the Ultimates: essentially it’s a grimmer and grittier version of the Avengers, set in Marvel’s Ultimate Universe. Originally a great book from Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch which set a new standard in the idea of “widescreen” comics and was initially the best bit of superhero adventure we’d seen for years (see here). But it really doesn’t matter because if you don’t know about it, it’s so much easier to ignore it completely.
Jeph Loeb has obviously decided that he needs to shake a few things up, so Wasp is the new leader, Hawkeye’s got a nice new costume and a homicidal death wish to match the target on his forehead, Black Panther’s appeared from nowhere with a nice line in leather fetish gear and rippling muscles everywhere (although not necessarily in the right places – see comments on the art below) and Thor’s new girlfriend Valkyrie seems to exist purely to thrust her ridiculously exaggerated breasts into Thor’s chest whilst simpering a lot.
(should we be talking about steroid abuse? Thor smacks down Venom while reciting dialogue William Shatner would balk at in Ultimates 3 #1, art by Joe Madureira, (c) Marvel)
Meanwhile what little story there is concerns an attack by Venom and someone taking umbrage at Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch’s dubious brother-sister relationship. But none of it matters. It’s tacky, messy and reads like something a 13 year old would write if they were trying to write like a real grown-up.
And the art. Oh, please, don’t get me started. Joe Madureira’s exaggerated style is fast, kinetic as hell and very flashy. It’s also overblown, bears no relation to basic anatomy or perspective and just looks messy, crowded and cluttered. I’m an experienced comics reader; I can easily navigate around some really complicated artwork. But there was a point in Ultimates where I turned the page and immediately realised I’d missed something. Turning back, I realised why – the page I’d missed looked more like an advert; the flow of the art just didn’t exist and it was almost impossible to navigate the page so bad was the artwork and layout. Horrible. Horrible. Horrible.
Ultimates Volume 3. Let’s all pretend it doesn’t exist. Maybe we can wish it out of existence.