Ultimate Comics: Ultimates by Sam Humphries (spoilers)


Excelsior Club
May 17, 2004
I started a new thread for this because I think #13 is the first Sam Humphries-only issue.

The writing itself is not bad, and the art is ok if not a little too technical-looking, but the only thing I could think of the whole time I was reading it was how and why we got to this point in the UU. I've ranted about this elsewhere but Ultimates (and the Ultimate line) used to be a little more grounded in the world as we know it...now it's like some kind of alternate Earth gone wrong. It feels so forced and weird and I wonder why they felt the need to make it that way instead of just creating a new line to experiment that idea with? Getting to this point wasn't organic or logical. It just happened, and very suddenly.

I don't like it.
Yeah, save Ultimate Spider-Man, the other books are basically operating on a "Days of Future Past" type world.
I don't necessarily mind that big **** is going down, it's more that I'm worried to see what the outcome is. I'm actually reasonably okay with a new status quo, so long as it actually becomes a status quo and doesn't revert back to the way things previously were. Which it will. Because this is comics.

Also, where's the whole Kratos Club in all this? Was that particular side plot dropped already?
I don't mind the status quo right now in the Ultimate Universe. Yes it feels like another world now, but it seems that they have moved from making a Marvel universe similar to our world, but to a universe that is generally more realistic given its circumstances. I think this is a first time that a catastrophic event happens that really affects the country as a whole. Generally major events in the regular Marvel universe seem not to affect the people so much as they generally focused on the heroes and villains so it is great to see that in this major event, the main victim is the country itself and the heroes are working on dealing with the craphole the U.S. has devolved into.

I do find some of the crazy things that happened is a little unnecessary. I'm a little put off that Europe is generally non-existent thanks to the Children and I was taken aback by their decision that apparently all the SEA countries are under one republic, and are now taken over by the People like some mega-Genosha. Generally they've decided that Ultimate Universe is a universe where nothing and no one is safe, and I still think that the new direction is still better than the crap we've had for years (although UXM has only started being good since Wood took over).

For the Sam Humphries arc, so far so good, but the new artwork is not as great as the one before. Still looking forwarded to what they have in store for this arc, but at least it feels like something that will affect the Ultimate Universe for good.
but it seems that they have moved from making a Marvel universe similar to our world, but to a universe that is generally more realistic given its circumstances.

How do you figure? It seems the complete opposite to me, at least compared to what Ultimates and, to a lesser extent, Ultimates 2 were. In those books, weird events like the Chitauri and Asgard coming to Earth seemed like HUGE events because of how characters reacted to them - like you or I might react in their shoes instead of, say, the 616 books where stuff like that happens every issue. But this...they just pile huge events and concepts on top of each other and we get none of the characters trying to digest what is going on in a way that you or I can relate to. They are just cramming stuff into a book without making it meaningful.
Cap for president? What!

Didn't he run for president in the MU proper?

I re-read the Winter Soldier arc a while back and that's how I like Captain America. He was similar earlier in Ultimates Vol. 1. He's a complete outcast and struggles every day to not only understand the world but fit in. He doesn't force his views on people and doesn't lead in that way (running for public office).
To be fair, though, he didn't run for this office - he was written in as a candidate. I think Hickman and Humphries (and Bendis) have been writing him pretty well since this Second Ultimate Renaissance; they seem to have a grasp on that side of the character, and it'll be interesting to see it transfer over to this whole Presidency thing.
Zeek said:
To be fair, though, he didn't run for this office - he was written in as a candidate

I see. I haven't read the issue yet; just the summaries.
What's more, no ideological connection was made. He wasn't written is for a particular party, just for the Presidency itself.

I read an interview over at CBR that basically was saying that his Presidency wouldn't pander to either political party, nor would it be some one-off gag; it's supposed to have "long-term impact", and he's not gonna leave after a few issues. I'm not sure how they'll pull both of those off - surely he'll have to take a stance on some issues at some point, and it's bound to be in line with a particular partie's ideology one way or another - but it's nice to know the thought is there.
I doubt there are going to be any stories about Cap working with congress to decide policy. There will be no need to talk about which party he sides with. He's going to be the strong leader the US needs to pull itself back together. That's all this is.
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This comic is a complete and utter embarrassment. I'm dropping it effective immediately.

I can't even come up with words as to what is wrong with it, but I'll try. I've mentioned before that the current plot, regardless of quality, flies completely against what this line of books has traditionally about. There are times when that's OK like if it is failing completely, but before Ultimatum, the Ultimate line basically wasn't. Big things happening felt big because they were so unusual but fit in the context of what the universe was established as (Sentinels notwithstanding).

This feels like a really bad 70s story or something, where bad writers come up with a bad story because they feel like it needs to be about Captain America but they don't have the skill to write a relevant Captain America story. I'm sure it's not easy - Cap was a bad title for a long time before Ed Brubaker took over. But this is just an Ultimate version of that bad Captain America book.

I literally feel embarrassed for everyone that had a hand in this, from writing it to approving it to publishing it. None of what's going on now (referring specifically to Ultimates and Ultimate X-Men) follows what has been established for these characters. It reads like 3rd-rate writers are just doing things they can think of to make things different because they don't have any more ideas for the books any more.

I never stopped reading Ultimates or Ultimate X-Men even when they started to get mediocre, but I'm done. I'm not thrilled with Miles going to Captain America and "joining up" but the book has been so good that I'll stick with it for now.

These are just terrible, terrible books.
Captain Canuck said:
I doubt there are going to be any stories about Cap working with congress to decide policy. There will be no need to talk about which party he sides with. He's going to be the strong leader the US needs to pull itself back together. That's all this is.

Quoted for truth.

I don't mind Ultimates and Ulitmate X-Men right now. They certainly aren't great, but I feel like they're both the best they've been in 5 years (with the exception of Hickman's run on the Ultimates, which was really good right up until the end.)

I guess I'm just a sucker for continuity. I like that the stories overlap and I know what's going on in the whole Ultimate universe and how it all fits together. This is the first time that's ever been true.
After Bill Jemas left, the Ultimate line never recovered. It stopped being the streamlined, focused, tightly-knit universe of reinvention to fanfiction where any writer could insert anything they wanted. Writers kept coming and going, which resulted in story arcs finishing quickly and having no repercussions, which went directly against the long-form structure of the universe. They wiped out most the characters and settings to divorce it further and further from the Marvel properties, and from itself, desperately trying out any idea that they'd never do in the 616 comics in hope of finding something to 'stick'. In hindsight, it was inevitable: as soon as they ultimized all the best parts of the Marvel universe, the Ultimate line had no hook, nothing to go on. They wasted possible reinventions as jokes, and it's not surprising they can't come up with anything new, because 616 is just recycling the same characters. The ultimate line needed discipline, patience, and foresight to succeed. It has none. And this isn't to say Jemas would've saved them; rather, it's just a correlation, not causation. Jemas didn't have the foresight or patience either; look at how poorly handled ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR was, or Ultimate Galactus. Look how quickly they churned through the stable of X-Men characters until there was nothing left. Started strong, fell apart too fast. No one saw the trainwreck coming because no one stopped to think that the stable of characters to reinvent was very shallow, and the Ultimate line needed to be founded on something stronger.
I think you're giving it more credit than it deserves as far as the tight knitted-ness of it (it was never tight knit, or at least not as much as it should have been), but fan fiction describes this perfectly. The whole line has become a cess pool of bad fan fiction.
When I say "tightly-knit", what I meant was that each series was self-contained but if you read them all, none felt like they were ignoring or contradicting the others. They seemed to share the universe without intruding upon one another. But now they're all fighting each other to be "important" and such crazy things are happening in one comic that it makes the world of the others feel false. For example, in Hickman's ULTIMATES run, China and Europe died. Yet, like, Miles Morales can still buy iPhones and the internet still works. What the hell is that?! Gank is Asian and never mentions his country is now ruled by two God-like factions of supermen. China is freely handing out superpowers and no one cares. What the hell is that? This is true of the DCU and 616. Events in one comic so drastically alter the world it's hard to believe the other comics are set in the same world. But the Ultimate line, due to its small number of titles and it's desire to stay as contemporary as possible, allowed them to be tightly-knit in that way; it's not so much that it was self-referential, rather, it wasn't self-contradictory. It was one of its strengths. It was also tightly-knit in terms of character; characters were consistent throughout the line. But then Loeb comes along and suddenly Thor is speaking ye olde English (because he's a Norwegian Viking deity from the 5th century, so of course he speaks 16th century English) in one title but not another, Iron Man is made of monkeys (which is more tolerable than sentient tumours that talk to machines), and so on. The whole thing has literally fallen apart. At least in the DCU and 616, there's so many titles that you don't even expect a tight continuity like that. But the Ultimate line is so small, you expect Marvel to be able to keep consistency between three titles. And they can't.

Basically, the Ultimate line's brand identity was that it was a streamlined reinvention of Marvel characters in a contemporary, consistent long-form narrative. Now it's "the place where we do crazy **** we'd never do in 616", which just reminds you it's not "real" because everything they do is, "Look! See how crazy it is! We'd never do it for real in the other universe, but we will here because it doesn't count!". They traded substantive storytelling that rewarded investment with superficial shock storytelling that discourages investment by eliminating anything they want any time for no reason with no set up.
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Why are they even still continuing the Ultimate Universe? Do the comics actually sell well?
. But now they're all fighting each other to be "important" and such crazy things are happening in one comic that it makes the world of the others feel false.

I do agree with you, I just don't think it's any different than before. It's just that now things are on a ridiculous level of crazy than something that I would have called amazing or fun or whatever.

Like with all of the big things that were happening in Ultimates and Ultimates 2 - as far as I remember those things were barely mentioned, if at all, in Ultimate Spider-Man. And these things were even happening in the same city.

In fact, strangely, things got more streamlined with Ultimatum than they ever were.
Really? I don't seem to recall crazy stuff happening in Manhattan. Usually the crazy stuff was in other countries and simply not on the scale it is now (with the exception of THE TOMORROW PEOPLE). Like, Magneto may destroy a bridge, but Reed ate a continent that has two of the five richest countries in the world in it. It also has numerous tax havens like Lichtenstein and Luxembourg which would end corporate America if eaten by genetically engineered death monkeys from the future past and oh I can't go on with this crap anymore, what the hell were they thinking?

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