The Ultimate Universe is supposed to be a close approximation of the Marvel 616, but targeted toward the new Marvel reader. Ultimate Avengers 3 #1 features a vampire story that seems a bit too familiar, but is it really different from the Curse of the X-Men, or just more of the same?
ULTIMATE AVENGERS #3
Writer: Mark Millar
Penciler: Steve Dillon
Inker: Andy Lanning
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover: Leinil You and Marte Garcia
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Previously in Ultimate Avengers: Magneto flipped out and destroyed half the world, and along with the millions of civilians that were killed, most of our beloved Ultimate Marvel characters bit the dust, too. Bruce Banner, Daredevil, Wolverine, that one guy with the thing, and that girl that had the other thing, but surprisingly not The Thing. As the world rebuilds new heroes rise to take their place, making it a brand new day in the Marvel Universe…AGAIN!
THAT BLADE IS ONE BAD –
SHUT YOUR MOUTH!
I’M JUST TALKING ABOUT BLADE…
Coming from the ‘70s, Blade is one fellow you don’t want to mess with. He’s part vampire, part human, which allows him to walk around in the daylight, but he’s also got a lust for killing vampires. He’s also got a lust for the ladies, and it is very evident in the opening pages that it doesn’t matter to Shaft Blade what color the skin is, and he’s definitely not a one woman kind of guy. There’s so much blaxploitation in Millar’s depiction of Blade, that one has to wonder if he didn’t simply tweak some dialogue from the movies of the time and dump them into this script. It isn’t cringe-worthy, but it is something that sounds out of place the moment you read the first page.
I don’t know how the whole vampire thing works in the Marvel Universe, but here, readers are led to believe it is a virus contracted from other vampires that turns the person into a light fearing, pointy tooth monster. Or maybe that’s just what Shaft Blade is telling his bedroom playthings to keep them from noticing the big gun he has under the sheets. No that isn’t a euphemism for anything, Blade literally has a big gun under the sheets that he whips out to kill the vampires that show up at his door. He also has to kill the three women he’s spent time with because they like to suck on necks, too.
This issue also introduces readers to the new Daredevil, a young kid about the same age as Matt Murdock when he went through the change, and like Murdock before him, Ray Connor is taken under the wing of Stick, who promises to help him carry on the legacy. Blade’s opening sequence is a very short moment in time that gets readers up to speed on vampires, however, when it comes to the New Daredevil, Millar opts to go for a big training montage that must span a great deal of time. We get to see Connor build up his skills, take on the yellow and red suit of Matt Murdock, and it looks like he’s going to make something of himself… until a horde of vampires lead by Nerd Hulk kills Stick and puts the big bite on Connor.
That’s right, Dear Reader, Nerd Hulk and many other people have succumb to the Curse of the Vampires, or whatever it is they are calling the storyline in this universe. And ultimately (see what I did there?) that is this issue’s big failing. Curse of the Vampires is an event book that is taking place in the 616 X-Men title, and to have the same schtick show up in Ultimate Avengers blurs the lines between the two realities. At least when Brian Michael Bendis writes Ultimate Spider-Man he doesn’t borrow from the current goings on at the House of Ideas to tell his wall crawler tales, he at least goes back a few years. Now Millar could be doing something quite different with his vampire story, which would be nice, but for some reason this opening chapter just seems like more of the same.
Hopefully the appearance by Captain America (played tonight by Steve Rogers) will fix everything and raise this story to the same levels as when Millar introduced readers to The Ultimates years ago.
WHERE’S BRIAN HITCH AGAIN?
It’s too bad Marvel couldn’t get Brian Hitch to return to the Ultimate universe with this book. While Steve Dillon does a good job at depicting human anatomy, his ability to create a dynamic panel falls flat. I absolutely hate comic art that features nice composition, solid character drawings, but absolutely no background detail except for a solid color splash. That happens more often than not in this issue, and it absolutely makes all the panels seem flatter than the paper they are printed on. It kills the issue.
For a story that takes place mostly in New York, there is a terrible lack of detail. Even the “Secret S.H.I.E.L.D. Headquarters” looks like Fury, Rogers, Hawkeye and Black Widow are slumming it in a Motel 8 off of highway 12.
BOTTOM LINE: IT MIGHT BE GOOD
I haven’t been reading much of the Ultimate universe since Ultimatum. The books keep coming in, but they just sit there on the table, looking at me like some puppy that is begging for attention. I really wanted to read what Millar was going to bring to this new team, but sadly it feels like I’m reading a regular Marvel book. Perhaps that is exactly what the company wants, but it just doesn’t feel right. Granted, the Ultimate (comics) line has always been about double dipping and retelling old stories in new ways, but here it feels like the company has gone back to the well one too many times. It isn’t an awful story – if you are into vampires, then this will be right up your alley, and honestly the story isn’t THAT bad. The art kills it though, and lowers the rating of this book to a solid 2 out of 5 Stars.