There’s something fantastical about the current run on “The Ultimates”. True, the history of the Ultimate universe is very hit or miss, the X-Men suffering the most from deplorable story lines. But something has taken shape in the Ultimate universe. Because of some weird hands off approach the Marvel Editors have been taking, the Ultimate universe is allowed to do anything they want. And each writer wants to one up the one previously—no, no, not one up the action or the adventure, this is not a race to become “Bad Boys 2”. Each writer sees it as their personal responsibility to do something far stranger and bizarre than the writer previous. And everything turns out f&%#ing fantastic.
This particular run of “The Ultimates” deals with Ultimate Universe Kang—that’s the other thing about all of these runs on “The Ultimates”, all of these writers are huge Marvel fans. So every one of them are eager to bring in their fan favorite characters or stories, just remember they’re all trying to be super weird about it. For example, Tony Stark had his infamous drinking problem but he also had another problem, a brain tumor with its own personality who he named Anthony and had discussions with. Go ahead and read that again, his own brain tumor he talked to and affectionately called Anthony. So this arc has incredible love for Kang but also has to do something super crazy. So first, **SPOILERS**, Tony Stark is killed—dead, hole-in-the-head, corpse but his consciousness is loaded into all Stark tech technology so his suits become sentient—what? And then Kang reveals, spoilers, that she’s actually Susan Storm come back from the future to stop the universe from being devoured by doing all this crazy evil stuff—what?
Okay, that’s not so crazy; Mark Millar did the same thing with “Fantastic Four”. But everything builds on the crazy from before. In a previous issue, an exiled Nick Fury said he was getting a new Howling Commandoes together. In this arc we see that it’s Frank Castle, Danny Ketch, the Falcon, Stature, Dum Dum Dugan, Abigail Brand, Emil Blonsky, and Hercules—whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? It was like geek Christmas, all my favorite characters from the 616 universe kicking some ass in the Ultimate Universe. But not all of the revamps have been worthy of praise.
Yes, there’s been a lot of good takes on characters in the Marvel universe, Hell the only reason Sam Jackson plays Nick Fury in the films is that Mark Millar watched a little too much “Pulp Fiction”. But it also means we have had to deal with some less flattering portrayal of fan favorites. Remember when Frank Castle was originally introduced as a crazy street cop? Not a proud moment in Punisher lore. Luckily “The Ultimates” have been making really good choices lately. Think about this right now: if Steve Rodgers ran for president or was even an option for president wouldn’t you vote for him? Well the Ultimate universe sure as Hell did. And What they got was a damn good looking president who kicked some major ass. Does that seem ridiculous? Yeah. Does it seem like a lampoon on current socio-political climates around the world? You betcha. Did it kick ass? F&%# Yeah.
All of the crazy one up man-ship harkens back to a better time in comics. Look back to some of the covers from the golden age of comics. Remember how they used to put crazy things in comic books just to have crazy things? You would tune in one week and find Jimmy Olsen had been turned into a giant turtle and was rampaging through Metropolis. Why on Earth would anybody write this kind of thing? I don’t know but it kicked ass. It’s something that “Invincible” captures well. At times Mark has to deal with serious emotional issues but then later will be fighting a lightning Valkyrie. Then there was also the time that he teamed up with a hyper intelligent Tyrannosaurus Rex who had a penchant for destroying whole cities to improve Earth’s sustainability.
There’s this whole new side of comics emerging where the reader is finally being treated to good, well thought out stories. Plots twist and turn through an entire arc and characters develop emotionally. That’s fantastic and I want as much of that as possible. But there’s also the kid in me that wants to see a genetic mega scorpion face a giant death robot. That’s what comics were made for: to see stupid ridiculous things be awesome and weird. And I feel like “The Ultimates” is achieving just that.