“The Ultimates, Volume 3” (Marvel Ultimates, 2008).
Following my previous attempt at reviewing Comics No One Gives A Crap About (Viewable here: http://www.republibot.com/content/comics-no-one-gives-crap-about-1-robot... ), my fellow Republibots took me aside and asked me if, perhaps, as a second installment, I could do something that wasn’t so mired in the offscreen continuity of a 23 year old cartoon that no one remembers anyway. “You know, something where the actual review is something more than a footnote to the explanation of where this fits in to the overall scheme of things that no one’s ever heard of.”
There was some crying, some poorly-chosen-yet-hillarious profanity on my part, some recriminations and accusations about people’s mothers, and a visit to my shrink (Who says I can blame the whole thing on my 6th College Roommate, who could never successfully manage to develop a distinct personality of his own. All about peer pressure with that guy. Geez) but in the end I could see their point, and that, I promise you, is as far into “The Superficial”-styled gonzo snark as we ever intend to go here on this site.
Anyway, here’s my attempt at a less OCD, less rambly review:
I just re-read the once-eagerly-anticipated third volume of the Ultimates, the Marvel Ultimates version of The Avengers. (If that sentence makes no sense to you, it’s just as well) My impression: Wow! That was like the fastest meltdown of a comic book I've seen since issue # 49 of Animal Man! Seriously, have you read any of the Volume 3 Ultimates? Wow.
As you may or may not know, I've never been a fan of Marvel, but Ultimates was just a great reboot, had a wonderful cinematic quality, great art, nice take on the characters, sprawling, sometimes meandering story. Production delays sucked, yeah, and it followed the Jerry Bruckheimer Screenplay Model a bit too closely for my liking, but still, they were great. They made me like Marvel heroes, which, in general, I don't. It was bright, it was exciting, it was cool. It was lik a well done adventure movie w/ great cinematography, in an upscale theater with a union projectionist, instead of these little nonunion crystalmethhead highschool dropouts they have running the projectors these days. My point being that in a lifetime spent alternately avoiding and/or being annoyed by Marvel, this was actually pretty cool. It was as good as the Marvel characters probably could ever be done. It wasn’t embarrassing at all, this was the first time I ever really saw what it is other people saw in these characters as a team. It was edgy at times (As when they make it clear that the Hulk eats people) and even kind of disturbing on occasion. As superhero comics go, it was completely amazing for two volumes.
Volume 3 just blew it. The art is nowhere near as good as before (I know they changed art teams, but why is it drawn so dark? Seriously, it looks like it’s painted on velvet. Awful.), the characterizations feel way off (Cap is not a man displaced in time like he was previously, now he's just a straightlaced prig, Thor is back to being the same old annoying Thor I always avoided, etc, etc, etc). The massive crossover with the X-men in issue 2 was a huge mistake, and in short, they're right back to all the aspects of Marvel Comics that I just utterly loathed to begin with, and which the Ultimate Marvel universe was supposed to be avoiding. Terrible. Atop this, they’ve made the common pretentious undergraduate freshman mistake of confusing “Edgy” with “Offensive for its own sake,” and thus they’ve included a major subplot/motivation about incest for no other reason than to break taboos. (To be fair, this subplot was hinted at in Volumes 2 and 2, but there it was largely implied and mainly there to let us know that sometimes you have to make unpleasant alliances with creepy people in order to save the world, and not as a titillation-factor)
In short, the first two volumes were a movie, volume 3 is just a comic book. A bad comic book, a Marvel comic book. But then, I repeat myself.
Evidently, others agree with me. You can read about the lackluster public reception for the thing here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultimates_3#The_Ultimates_3 shows that after massive pre-sales of the first installment, sales fell of quite a bit. This review http://au.comics.ign.com/articles/839/839841p1.html and this one here http://uk.comics.ign.com/articles/853/853747p1.html both give it something of a critical drubbing.
My point being that if you’re in to such things, you should get the reprints of volumes 1 and 2 of this series, but *not* Volume 3. Seriously, Volume 3 is not a comic book for reading or even looking at, it’s a comic book that you’d make fun of your friends for owning. The first two volumes were a pantheon of modern gods wrestling with themselves and the demons for the fate of mankind. Volume 3 is just a silly-assed little wrestling movie. Feh.