The Ultimates Return - Part 1

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The Ultimates 3 by Jeph Loeb and Joe Madureira hit the stands this past Wednesday. It’s been a while since we last saw the ground-breaking title launched by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, so we’re taking it upon ourselves at Broken Frontier to go over the latter team’s work and take in the impact of the latest installment by the new creative team.

The Ultimates team is essentially the same lineup as the original Avengers but modernized. The characters are darker and more cynical and the storylines deal with unique modern individual issues, as well as issues that plague the world at large.

Captain America’s story is similar to his original Marvel Universe version. He was marketed as being a military tactical genius who could win any fight (taking down both the Hulk and Giant Man, single-handed) with the politics of John McCain. His conservative belief system, stemming from the World War II generation, causes many issues in his reanimated lifestyle in the Twenty-First century.

Diagnosed with a brain tumor, Antonio Stark decides to do some good with his remaining years by using his advanced intellect to create the Ultimate identity of Iron Man. To relieve the pain of his illness, Stark is frequently drunk and normally flies into missions three sheets to the wind.

Thor was an ex-nurse who had a nervous breakdown and spent eighteen months in a mental institution, only to emerge calling himself the Norse God of Thunder. Since his stint in the mental ward, Thor penned a book and has a Dalai Lama-like following. He refused to become a permanent member of the Ultimates, as they were a United States government-sanctioned super team.

Originally, his primary weapon, the hammer Mjolnir, was created by a Norwegian military arms facility. It was constantly called into question whether Thor was the actual God of Thunder or deranged. This was firmly laid to rest at the conclusion of The Ultimates 2.

Hank Pym, Giant Man, is addicted to Prozac and beats his wife, Janet Pym, also known as the Wasp. The Pyms, both molecular biologists, worked with Dr. Bruce Banner before the re-emergence of Captain America, to reproduce the original Super Soldier serum.

The Ultimates’ first arc "Super Human," dealt with the establishment of the team. It also looked at the wide criticism they received for the millions of dollars in taxes they spent in taxpayer money for assembling their home base, The Triskelion.

Dr. Banner, under intense criticism from his superiors, and his teammates, alike, to reproduce the serum that gave Captain America his powers, eventually buckles under the pressure. During an argument, ex-girlfriend Betty Ross shows her true nature as an opportunist celeb-o-phile by revealing that she’s going on a date with Freddie Prinze, Jr. This enrages Banner, who makes an amalgamation serum of his original Hulk formula and his failed Super-Soldier serum taken from Captain America’s blood.

Ultimate Hulk rampages through Manhattan threatening to eat Freddie Prinze Jr’s brain and declaring that Betty is the only one left for Banner and he deserves her. Before he is taken down by the Ultimates, the Hulk is reported to have murdered some 800-plus civilians in his fury. Betty Ross and S.H.I.E.L.D. cover up Banner’s involvement in the Hulk ‘s actions and confine him to a cell.

Following the Hulk’s destruction, people put up all kinds of allegorical postings of those lost in the carnage, drawing parallels to 9/11. Millar, in an interview with PopCultureShock, said he wanted to make his series, and his heroes, allegories for events and issues in today’s world.

In the second arc, the Ultimates encounter the Chitauri, a race of aliens that are the Ultimate Universe version of the Skrulls. The "Black OPS" side of the team, (comprised of leaders Black Widow, Hawkeye, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch), discover that Captain America’s nemesis during World War II, Herr Kleiser, is commanding the Chitauri presence on Earth. He was also responsible for Captain America’s fifty year slumber.

Kleiser plans to take over the Earth or, failing that, blow the planet up. After a fake out that completely wipes out the S.H.I.E.L.D. taskforce, Iron Man manages to preserve the team and some more personnel via his experimental force field generator.

With the battle getting worse and worse, Captain America finally orders the "weapon of last resort": the Hulk. A group of marines are allowed to beat up Bruce Banner and throw him out of a helicopter to force him into turning into the Hulk. Joining the fray, he savagely devours Herr Kleiser and then re-directs his attention to the invading Chitauri fleet, destroying them.

The Black Widow struggles with Iron Man’s plan to get the planet-destroying bomb off-planet by having Thor teleport it to another dimension. In this instance, it is implied for the first time that Thor is a delusional schizophrenic, with nothing but gadgets for powers, and is not actually the God of Thunder. Thor proves her wrong and teleports the bomb to another plane of existence, saving the planet.

Join David tomorrow as he looks at the events of Volume 2.

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