Serving as a “Secret Empire” tie-in, this collection focuses on the Ultimates who are currently trapped outside the force field that Hydra Cap threw up around the Earth. The Ultimates have more on their plate than Hydra takeover though as this volume explores the world-devouring Galactus as well.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Secret Empire wreaks havoc on the Ultimates! As Steve Rogers makes his move, the team find themselves on the wrong side of his plans. With an existential threat in control of Earth, Galactus might be the planet’s last hope…but the Lifebringer has problems of his own!
Why does this matter?
This collects issues ##7-9, and #100 which may be only be 4 issues, but it’s only $8.99 and the 100th issue ran for $4.99, so it’s a nice deal. This is also a must read for fans of cosmic Marvel characters like Galactus and Ego, who get facelifts and incredible backstory development.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This trade will make you look at cosmic characters in a new light.
I started reading this collection knowing Galactus had been recently changed from world eater to life bringer so I was extremely excited to see his story progressed even more here. Before it gets to that writer Al Ewing introduces us to Captain Marvel and her compatriots being pummeled by aliens outside Earth’s shield. If only they had a contact with a cosmic character to get them out of this pickle! From there the story picks up with Galactus (who is a bit forlorn and tired), sending him on a mission that gets him into battle with Ego. This is where the story goes from compelling, outright must read, as Ego and Galactus commune and reveal their true selves. I’m not sure if Ewing wrote this from whole cloth or if these backstories were already revealed in previous books, but it’s a fascinating turn of events.
This issue plays around with the cosmic characters of the Marvel universe in very interesting ways. Usually far removed from caring or even interacting with anyone, Ewing has these giants form teams like the Eternity Watch who are the “Cosmic Defenders”, introduces strange beings of incredible power like the Shaper’s Ghost, and generally reveals even unexplainable forces of the universe sometimes need to create super teams to battle against threats. That threat in this volume is the Ultimate universe version of Reed Richards who is so smart he’s practically a god himself.
Speaking of Richards, Ewing weaves in the Ultimate characters in a seamless sort of way, reminding us how different and cool they were. Hulk, Cap, and Iron Man among others show up and it’s fun to see Ewing write about how this version of Tony Stark drinks so as to use his powers. It’s nice to see Marvel didn’t abandon these characters completely since there’s a lot of clever ideas amongst their ranks.
The art is split between Aud Koch and Travel Foreman. Koch draws the first two issues and his work on the Galactus/Ego meeting is stellar. He captures the weirdness of Ego and the humanity in both of these characters very well. Things get crazy cosmic when Foreman takes over the last two issues and it’s quite impressive to see how he can draw beings bigger than the imagination can even fathom. Reed Richards is delectably evil and fun to read due to his lines too. I really dug how he drew Hulk (see below) as he gives him just enough of a different look to make him obviously not the 616 Hulk we’re familiar with.
That looks like it hurts.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The first issue in this trade paperback left me bored and unamused. It’s the most heavily tied to “Secret Empire” and seems to be spinning its wheels to tie-in and seem relevant. The art in this issue is the most unfinished looking too and while the composition is sometimes great the art can look blah. The high point was a scene involving America talking to a tired Galactus, and yes, it’s about as boring as it sounds.
Is It Good?
Marvel Comics has always been the best at capturing the unfathomable awesomeness of the cosmic. This trade paperback takes all that a step further as it’s incredibly imaginative and awesome. It’s easy to forget how huge these cosmic characters are, but Ewing and company do a great job showing how it’s done.