This weeks recommendation is a fairly old release now, that at the time was a huge step forward for Marvel and since has helped design and hugely influence their Cinematic Universe. This weeks recommendation is Marvels’ ‘Ultimates’ comic books series.
The Ultimates was Marvels attempt at re-vamping and restarting the Avengers ion early 2002 to try to help new readers get on board and enjoy the monthly antics of their biggest superheroes without the need to know over 40years of back story and continuity. The original 12issues series was written by veteran written Mark Millar and illustrated amazingly by Bryan Hitch.
What makes this series such a success was the immediate feeling that the events took place right now- not like some Avengers tales that felt out of date or behind the times, the characters and the stories felt like they could be happening right now. Even the realism that Hitch brings to the art helps add to the feeling that this was modern and serious story that you knew from the very beginning was going to be one of the stories that you wouldn’t forget or want to miss.
The well know characters were tailored slightly and reintroduced Hawkeye got possibly the biggest changes, but these were great as he was made a true marks man with anything he could get his hands on (similar to Bullseye) and there’s a classic series of panels that demonstrates just how dangerous he can be within his own kitchen. Add to that the fact that the series hints at Thor maybe not being a God and everything being science based, which adds a nice layer to the relationship between him and Tony Stark. The Hulk is so well done in this series too, as we get to see him on a full rampage across New York and is the reason the Avengers need to form, but seeing such a stark difference between a desperate and at the end of the line Banner and a huge behemoth and violent Hulk really gave the title a contemporary edge.
Adding to the feel that this really was a new start for the Avengers was the adult focus on the story and the action- with Captain America really going full on brutal against the Chitari race of aliens towards the end and the very weird to witness and obviously hinted at incest between quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. This book set out its intentions to change the Marvel comic book universe from the very beginning but it managed to do much more than that. Most of the character outfits/costumes that are seen in the cinematic universe have come directly from the Ultimates universe and are much more representative of these than their regular 616 counterparts. Some of these changes have made their way into the regular universe of Marvel comics now, and so has the adult nature to the Avengers recently.
If you’re not already sold on this- then the artwork of Bryan Hitch should be enough to get you on board insantly- no-one I can think of in the industry draws a more realistic looking superhero and pays so much attention to every single object within each panel. Looking at his work is truly amazing and the lifelike forms he gives Captain America and the sheer size he gives the Hulk are amongst some of the best depictions of these characters in their entire history. Every action panel is totally eye-popping and jaw dropping as everything seems to be real and the tension can literally be seen on the faces of the characters involved.
This is the title that started the really drew people into the Ultimate universe, more so than the original Ultimate Spider-Man or Ultimate X-men, and you owe it to yourself to read this title if you never have.