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Arthur C. Clarke
Brian Michael Bendis, Olivier Coipel
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Philip Reeve
The Ultimates - Mark Millar, Bryan Hitch The Ultimates comes very highly recommended, from more than a few people. But for me, it was far from living up to the hype.

The basic concept of the Ultimate 'verse is to make the familiar Marvel heroes more "real" and "edgy". In The Ultimates, Millar attempts to do that by making nearly every single character a complete jerk. Even unnamed extras are jackasses for no other reason than because it's "realistic" (no, it really isn't). Hank Pym is abusive towards his wife, and nobody seems to care much. Tony has become even more of an author fantasy character than he could be. Thor, the most bearable character, is horribly smug. Even Captain America, the last likeable character in the book, finally ends up as a xenophobic bigot with a line that Millar assures me in a nearly full-page sequence in the issue following that I should find hilarious. And I just don't find bigotry funny. I could possibly work with all the many, many character flaws if they weren't also sneering their way through every single scene.

But the plot, what about the plot? Well, for most of the book, there is no plot. The character do nothing but sit around and do PR for most of the book. We're about halfway through this large, 13 issue volume when Bruce Banner finally Hulks out. And God, what a horrible sequence that was. With the way he wrote it, I was convinced that Millar really thought that Betty Ross was at fault for Bruce intentionally turning himself into the Hulk and killing 300 people while threatening to rape Betty because she broke up with him and wasn't pleasant to him after. At least, everybody in the book seemed to think so, including Betty, and nobody says that Bruce might be responsible for his own actions or that maybe it isn't cool to terrorize a woman into dating you. Maybe we, the readers, are meant to see that all as reprehensible and take the characters to task because they don't. But I don't give Millar credit for that kind of subtlety.

When an actual threat does show up, it's alien shape-shifter Nazis. Who are suddenly a dire threat despite napping for the past sixty years or so. I didn't find them a credible threat, and I thought that making them Nazis was a lazy way of making them evil without having to do any effort developing their specific threat. And the huge, sprawling, boring multi-issue fight that closed it out was less than compelling.

Oh, and a parting kudos to Millar for his bizarre sense of realism. A woman who can shrink to an inch tall at will? Realistic. Giving her a wardrobe that will shrink with her? Don't be absurd! Except then he admits in the interview after it was just an excuse to have dozens of panels of Jan naked. Thanks for that.