It is a proven rule: Not every superhuman conflict can be about the literal end of the world.  Sometimes, the fights they fight are more emotional in nature…  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Ultra #8 awaits!

ULTRA #8
Writer: Joshua Luna/Jonathan Luna
Penciler: Joshua Luna/Jonathan Luna
Inker: Jonathan Luna
Colorist: Jonathan Luna
Letterer: Jonathan Luna
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $2.95
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $3.00

Previously in Ultra: In a world much like our own (albeit in the feckless year 2005), Pearl Penalosa is Ultra, a superhero of some note.  She is also a young twenty-something woman trying to balance her career in a cape, her friends, her family and something approaching a love life, having recently broken up with her boyfriend Roger (another hero-type.)  At the beginning of this particular week, she and two of her gal pals visited a fortune-teller, who informed Pearl/Ultra that she would find true love within seven days.  Several false leads (including a promising lead who turned out to be a manipulative jerk and her friend Jen, who has apparently harbored a crush on her for years), she is surprised to find ex-boyfriend Roger outside her bedroom window…

Full disclosure: I have loved this book since I read the first issue, mostly because of how much realism and character the Luna Brothers have infused into it without falling into the Frank Miller “BLOOD FLOODING CHEST CAVITY”-style storytelling.  Pearl’s discomfort in these moments is partly due to Roger interrupting a very private moment, but also because there’s still the tension of “What If?” in the ruined remains of their love affair…

This is possibly the most accurate “Awkward Ex Chat” I’ve ever encountered in fiction, and you can practically hear the tension in their voices.  Of course, the moment leads Pearl to remember that flying in cold weather always makes Roger want to pee, and offers to let him use her restroom…

The facial expressions that Joshua and Jonathan imbue to their characters, even with their trademark (deceptively) simple linework, is just amazing, and as Roger slowly comes around to his point, you can see both characters fighting their urge to just get it over with and kiss.

Turns out, it’s Ultra who fails her saving throw…

As the metaphorical string soundtrack swells romantically, it seems clear that the promise of True Love has been fulfilled for Pearl…

…until you realize we’re only six pages into the issue.

That’s… not what was supposed to happen.  Like, at all.  But, Roger is currently living with his next girlfriend, and Ultra isn’t willing to mess with that sort of situation.  (Smart woman.)  Thankfully, we don’t see the tragic fallout of this discussion, instead cutting forward to Saturday night, as Ultra and her best friends once again visit their favorite club…

I also love that moment, but every issue of this series is filled with dry wit and impressively realistic dialogue and situations.  As our heroes commiserate about their joint bad week (there was also a massive super-villain attack that seemingly almost killed them all, but that takes a backseat to more personal concerns, as so many “work things” do), Pearl breathes a sigh of relief that she doesn’t have to worry about the fortune-teller’s prophecy any longer…

Aphrodite (who, if you were to make the tired comparison to ‘Sex And The City’, would be this group’s Samantha) points out that the definition of “the next seven days” depends on a number of factors…

Realizing that she isn’t quite as over the whole thing as she had hoped, Ultra excuses herself (though a fistfight in the bar helps speed her decision) to go for a walk and contemplate her upcoming spinsterhood and life with a dozen cats in an apartment that smells of mothballs.  Stopping in for a cup of tea, there’s a sudden wellspring of hope…

…which is summarily crushed into nothing.  It’s pretty brutal, leaving our heroine sobbing in the coffee shop, proving that ugly-crying is one of her super-powers.  Cut to the next day: Pearl actually calls her mom, who has been leaving messages for eight issues now, making mom think that her daughter is dying…

Then, as the cherry on top of the sundae of a terrible week, Pearl finds that her wallet, last seen in the middle of the night in a coffee shop in a strange neighborhood that she doesn’t actually remember the location of, is missing…

Cue kismet!

Turns out, she left it on the counter, where our handsome stranger found it this morning, and realized that it belonged to one of the cities’ super-protectors.  Figuring that his coworkers might take advantage, he took matters into his own hands…

Awkward small-talk (including a super-obvious double entendre, which I enjoyed greatly) ensues, leading to the moment that finally brings the fortune-teller’s words back to her mind…

“I’m free,” she responds as we fade to black.  Sadly, a dozen years later, there have been no additional adventures of these characters, to my knowledge, leaving us to decide for ourselves whether Dustin is actually true love arriving or just some schmuck in a hoodie.  (This, I should mention, makes me enjoy the story even more.)  Ultra #8 is the capstone of a truly remarkable story, one that addresses sex, romance, the human condition and the various awkward moments that we all recognize, all wearing the trapping of traditional superhero stories, earning a very impressive 4.5 out of 5 stars overall.  If you ever see this series, and you’re over 18, snap it up on sight, Faithful Spoilerites…

It is a proven rule: Not every superhuman conflict can be about the literal end of the world.  Sometimes, the fights they fight are more emotional in nature...  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Ultra #8 awaits! ULTRA #8 Writer: Joshua Luna/Jonathan Luna Penciler: Joshua Luna/Jonathan Luna Inker: Jonathan Luna Colorist: Jonathan Luna Letterer: Jonathan Luna Publisher: Image Comics Cover Price: $2.95 Current Near-Mint Pricing: $3.00 Previously in Ultra: In a world much like our own (albeit in the feckless year 2005), Pearl Penalosa is Ultra, a superhero of some note.  She is also a young twenty-something woman trying to…
Clever storytelling, featuring a fun central character and some universally awkward moments, all wrapped up in beautiful art and character work... Highly recommended!

ULTRA #8 (of 8)

Writing
Art
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Clever storytelling, featuring a fun central character and some universally awkward moments, all wrapped up in beautiful art and character work... Highly recommended!

User Rating: 4.3 ( 1 votes)

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.