All-New Ultimates, by Michel Fiffe and Amilcar Pinna, offers the perfect concept for Marvel’s Ultimate Universe. However, the story still has some steps to take.
When the Marvel Ultimate Universe was started, over a decade ago, it came as a response to the stale tales being told in the mainline books. The Ultimate books were founded on the principle of revolutionizing superhero comics.
The problem with that idea today is that Marvel NOW has rejuvenated enough of the mainline comics that the Ultimate books can’t stand out. In a strange turn of events, Michel Fiffe (known for his incredible self-published book, Copra) has decided that the best way to stand out among other Marvel books that are doing new things is to do something old instead.
All-New Ultimates is a throwback to the ’80s. With SHIELD now defunct, superpowered criminals are taking over the streets. The story plays out like an homage to The Warriors or Escape From New York.
The Ultimates of the past, led by Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor, are no more. So, it’s up to a new generation of Ultimates to protect the citizens of New York from the supergangs.
It’s like the Ultimate Universe version of Young Avengers or Runaways, and this is exactly the right team for a parallel-universe story such as this. Without the usual boundaries of corporate superhero storytelling, a young rebellious take on the genre is much appreciated.
It doesn’t all work, though. While the concept and setting are a nice throwback, it doesn’t gel with the rest of the Ultimate Universe. It’s hard to believe that this story takes place in the same world as the Ultimate Spider-Man #200 issue that came out just a few short weeks ago.
And while the “young” take on a supergroup like this sounds compelling at first, it wears a little thin as the issue goes on. When the team takes down some super criminals, they have no idea how to apprehend the bad guys and spend too long debating. Later in the issue the discussion continues, and Cloak proclaims that they aren’t citizens, they’re vigilantes. The claim that the Ultimates are vigilantes is all talk at this point.
Amilcar Pinna illustrates the exploits of the team and does a great job. He has a chaotic, exaggerated style that won’t be for everyone but perfectly fits the tone of this book. The characters that Pinna draws are all unique from each other; the artist excels at facial expressions. His style can occasionally lead to a sloppy looking panel here or there and the occasional unclear action, but overall I really enjoyed the way it complements the script.
Fiffe and Pinna are the right storytellers to tell this retro take on superhero comics, but some of it just doesn’t quite fit yet. A story like this should rebel openly against the type of tale being told by the main Marvel guys, but this first issue (for better or worse) fits right in with those other Marvel books.
Michel Fiffe (W), Amilcar Pinna (A) • Marvel Comics, $3.99, April 9, 2014