Comic: "The Ultimates 3, #1"
Published by: Marvel Comics
Written by: Jeph Loeb
Artist: Joe Madureira

Reviewer: Max Burbank
Posted: 1/3/2008

Plot: We pick up the story a short, undefined time after the last story arc, wherein the Ultimates (the Ultimate Universes version of the Avengers) beat back the superhuman lead armies of various third world countries who had successfully invaded and occupied the USA. They ought to be riding high, but instead Iron man is dealing with a leaked sex video of him and the Black Widow (Who turned out to be an enemy mole), Hawkeye is crazy, The Wasp can’t get security clearance for new unexplained members Black Panther and Valkyrie, Hank Pym AKA Giant Man AKA Ant Man OD’s on prescription meds and the Scarlet Witch gets assassinated.

Review: I’m a fan of The Ultimates, which is hard to support since I think the whole idea of The Ultimate Universe is pretty sketchy. For those not in the know, the Ultimate Universe is where Marvel gets to use all the characters it created in a no holds barred, R rated arena and they don’t have to worry about damaging valuable licensed properties. This means that if somebody wants to write a story where Spidey gets addicted to heroin and Venom takes advantage of Spidey being on the nod by slamming his nuts in a car door, they can. At it’s best, it’s like the classic Marvel “What If” comics where the title is “What If ‘What If’ were well written?”

I think this new story arc is off to a rocky start. Don’t get me wrong, it’s enjoyable and funny, but that’s easy ‘cause it’s ALL set up. Like Lucy, they now have a lot of ‘splainin’ to do. It’s obvious someone is setting the Ultimates up, but that was the whole back-story of the last arc. Loki was conniving behind the scenes to make our heroes look as bad as possible, and since the most interesting thing about the writing is that they are a pretty messed up bunch, it wasn’t hard.

I’m also dubious about the new artist, Joe Madureira, which is too bad, because his art is gorgeous. But previous artist Bryan Hitch was equally good AND he was a realist. For me, when the Ultimates works, it’s because of realism. The whole premises, it seems to me, is “What if the Avengers and all the grand scale bullshit they deal with actually happened? How would it play out and what would the consequences be?” Jeph Loeb is heading in that direction, but the art is operatic. It’s excellent art, it’s just not right for the script. These are beautiful, dramatic paintings. The Ultimates calls for film.

It wouldn’t be right to close this review without discussing the ‘ick’ factor. The ‘ick’ factor has been pretty important to the series. Ultimate Hulk EATS people. Not just kills them by the hundreds, not just rips them to pieces, sometimes he eats them. This is taking the idea of the Hulk seriously and embracing the challenge of writing about it.

But. In the issue I’m reviewing, the ‘ick’ factor doesn’t get handled so well. See, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver have always been written (in both universes) as... closer than most brothers and sisters. There’s... tension there. Good. Sexual tension is always fertile ground for writing. But Loeb throws away tension by coming right out and saying that the mutant siblings are consensual incestuous lovers. Cards on the table. Okay. But then we’re treated to the Wasp trying to convince Captain America (still alive in Ultimate Land) that while a little odd, it’s just... a little odd. AND THEN THEY KILL HER! Now maybe she isn’t really dead, or maybe they’ll bring her back and they won’t actually be brother and sister, but Loeb has already fucked with the formula. If you want to make them an open incestuous couple, deal with it. But that’s a beyond tough call as far as writing for a pop medium goes. So bang, she’s dead. That’s cheap. Better not to have brought it up in the first place. Its just naughtiness to feel special on account of what a naughty writer you’ve been.

SO FAR no major media outlet has stumbled on to this book. But they may, and the results will be stupid. Mainstream Comicbookdom is just at the point of introducing Lesbian characters as long as they are both really pretty. While I think that’s pretty silly, I also think consensual incest just to say you did it may be jumping the gun.

Now lets see if those last three paragraphs improve the book’s bottom line.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeHalf
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

The Dork Knight
Jan 4th, 2008, 03:10 AM
I think the Ultimate´s last story arc was a huge disappointment after the great first 3 volumes.
I kinda liked the verisimiltude established in Superhuman and the possibility of Thor (albeit he´s my favorite) being a loony, but the moment the cast of Lord of the Rings invaded New York, I kinda saw the shark approach and the comic getting ready to jump.
Gotta check this on out, didn´t know it was out yet.
The Magnificent Bastard
Jan 4th, 2008, 04:05 AM
I think making two characters an incest couple shows serious guts, but chickening out totally negates it.

I kinda stopped reading Marvel once they started this whole "Ultimate" crap (and was never a big superhero reader) so I don't have much to add to the discussion.
Jan 4th, 2008, 04:28 PM
Boy does Captain America looks creepy and over-muscled on that cover. I sure hope he is toned down in the thing.
Forum Virgin
Jan 4th, 2008, 06:12 PM
I thought those Marvel MAX titles were bad enough. It is a sad thing when the only way to appease the increasingly older jaded and creepier comics buying audience is to pump up the gross out factor. when this gneration of comics fans dies out, there will not another one.
The Goddamned Batman
Jan 4th, 2008, 07:56 PM
Is it just me, or does Jeph Loeb seem incapable of writing a quality story anymore if he's not paired up with Tim Sale?

I'm going to give it another couple issues before I decide for sure whether I'm going to stick with this one. So far it's a little jarringly different from the classic Millar/Hitch stuff, so I expect I'll have to get used to the feel before I can properly judge it.

I am so annoyed with Marvel numbering this book by "seasons". That's just retarded. It'd be nice if they could maintain SOME consistency down the line.
The Dork Knight
Jan 4th, 2008, 08:01 PM
In the times, when most of the comics people still buy today (some of those which serve as a pattern to those today = Ultimates p.e.)were concieved, a kiss between a white guy and a black woman was ´unpropriate´.
(Hint* Star Trek, Shatner trying to do under hypnosis, what other dudes try in their lives: kiss girls both Green and Black (shocking, brrrrh!)
The Dork Knight
Jan 4th, 2008, 08:11 PM
Ok, let me explain, I don´t wan´t to mess up someones perception on right and wrong, but in the time of our savior Christian Bale - 1000oddbevore our time, there was a highly culturvated peoples called Aegptys, which was into the same stuff, so I wanted to point out the gross factor of today is either badly old or badly contempuary news, so the shock factor´s your´s to decide but if the story´s any good, the shock serves the story and I will gladly tell you about it as soon as I read it!
Oh wait Protoclown wrote the first analysis, so don´t heed attention to my words brethren and sisters!
The Dork Knight
Jan 4th, 2008, 08:15 PM
Of course it´s different, compare The Authority to Long Halloween!
Loeb builds a retroworld around what they expect, Milar always destroyed the retroworlds people knew since the dawn of 4coloured lithograohie!
Dr.Acula MD
Jan 5th, 2008, 12:05 PM
I agree that Madureira's art is just wrong for this particular comic.

I must point out that I've been a HUGE fan of Mad's art for a LONG time (since the whole Age of Apocalypse arc), but it just doesn't feel right....

On a side note, I haven't enjoyed a thing that Loeb's written in years and years. His stuff just doesn't groove with me.
The Magnificent Bastard
Jan 5th, 2008, 02:48 PM
Originally Posted by bertleman
I thought those Marvel MAX titles were bad enough. It is a sad thing when the only way to appease the increasingly older jaded and creepier comics buying audience is to pump up the gross out factor. when this generation of comics fans dies out, there will not another one.
I disagree. I think the Marvel/DC superhero comics might not last past this generation, but indie-comics and Manga will live on. That won't make much of a difference to me because that's mainly what I read, anyway.

Still, it's sad to see any genre die out, especially since there are a few very good Superhero stories hidden under all the creepy gross out crap. I do enjoy DC's Superman/Batman title which thankfully doesn't have any sick nonsense, for example.

I do agree it's gross-out stuff that's killing it. It's like they learned nothing from image's incredible failure.