Comic Review – “The Ultimates Vol. 1: Super-Human”

The Avengers get their Ultimate treatment in this trade paperback. Want to know if it’s worth your time and money?

General Information

Title: The Ultimates Volume 1: Super-Human
Author: Mark Millar
Illustrator(s): Bryan Hitch and Andrew Currie
Original Publication Date: August 2002 reprint of 2002 material.
ISBN: 0-7851-0960-9
Cover Price: $12.99US, $21.00Can
The Issues: The Ultimates issues 1-6.
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General Nick Fury, now in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D., is given permission
to create a national team of super-heroes to combat the newly emerging

High Point

Cap’s implementation of his plan in chapter five. I don’t see that
scene happening with those characters in the regular Marvel Universe.

Low Point

The Freddie Prinze Jr. horse was beaten to death before it was even
mentioned. The fact that it was introduced in an attempt to ground
this series closely with our own world makes it worse, as the issue
would have been written after Freddy Prinze Jr. proposed to Sarah
Michelle Gellar, which is inconsistent with the way he was used here.

The Scores

When grading originality, I can only grade it based on how
new it is to me. Although I’ve been told that the “celebrity-seeking
heroes” deal was done earlier (and better) by the same author in
The Authority, I haven’t read that, so I won’t judge it.
What I do know is that these versions of Thor, Cap, Iron Man, and Hulk
are distinctly different than their traditional counterparts. (I
won’t judge Giant Man or Wasp, and I’ve read very little involving
them so far. I’ll know them better after reading my copy of
Essential Avengers Vol. 1.) The basic idea for their first
battle has been used in the original Marvel universe, but this was the
first time it actually resulted in deaths, which (I feel) adds to the
realism. (Really, how can it not?) I give it 4 out of 6.

The artwork is the best part of the collection. The art team
(including colorist Paul Mounts) did an excellent job of setting the
tones of the scenes, particularly in chapters one and five. (Chapter
five was incredibly intense as a direct result of the art.) My only
complaint is that some of the faces are often off-model. I give it 5
out of 6.

The story works very well in the trade paperback format.
I’ve very glad Mark Millar slowed down the pace from his original
conception. (His first plan was to tell the stories told in the first
five chapters in the first chapter.) My only real complaint was the
incessant references to pop culture. There are too many of them for
the characters to seem real, and the stories will become rapidly
dated because of them. I give it 4 out of 6.

The characterization was mediocre. While the dialogue alone
is enough to distinguish some characters, others (like Bruce Banner,
Wasp and Giant Man) don’t really seem to stand out. We understand
some of their motivations, but only Thor and Iron Man can be
consistently identified by the dialogue. I give it 3 out of 6.

The emotional response this generated was, again, mediocre.
Chapters one, five, and six were very effective at drawing me into the
story, but chapters two, three, and four fell a little flat. I give
it 3 out of 6.

The flow was well above average. Only early in chapter one
did things seem out of place, and that was just in one panel. (It was
the “Keep talking so I know where you are” panel.) I give it 5 out of

Overall, this is probably great for the teen crowd Marvel is
trying to attract, but a more mature audience would probably find it a
little young. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, The Ultimates Vol. 1: Super-Human receives 28 out
of 42.