Ultimate Comics: Armor Wars #1


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Ultimate Comics: Armor Wars #1


  • Words: Warren Ellis
  • Art: Steve Kurth
  • Inks: Jeff Huet
  • Colors: Guru eFX
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Sep 15, 2009

I’m coming into this series at something of a disadvantage, since I don’t regularly follow the Ultimate line. However, that puts me in the unaccustomed position of seeing a Marvel title from the point of view of a ‘new’ reader, and I have to say, it’s a confusing experience.

It’s not that the characters are not quite the ones I’m familiar with; I’ve read enough of the Ultimate stuff to know who this Iron Man is, and even if I hadn’t, alternate realities are nothing new in comics. But this book picks up directly after the events of the last Ultimates series, and it feels very much like coming into the story halfway through with not much in the way of explanation.

I think this may be Marvel’s major problem these days when it comes to attracting new readers: the books are frequently inaccessible for anyone not up to speed with events over the past few months, or in some cases the last few decades. This is particularly ironic in the case of the Ultimate books since the line was created specifically in order to sidestep that very problem. In the end it comes down to not having to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the past, but a writer who simply remembers that – in the words of Stan Lee – every issue is someone’s first.

As far as the actual story is concerned, this has all the looks of a retread of the classic Armor Wars storyline that ran in the main Iron Man book in the late Eighties. Tony tries to recover some of his property from his high security lab, only to discover it being stolen by techie thief the Ghost. He fights the Ghost, loses, but is saved by Justine Hammer (daughter of his late adversary Justin Hammer). She then tells him a) that she is dying from side effects of her artificially acquired super powers and b) that his Iron Man tech has been pirated by various nefarious types. Naturally, he now has to figure out how to get it back. Which is presumably what he’ll be doing for the next three issues.

Warren Ellis is seldom less than a competent writer, and this is indeed a competent script. But  it doesn’t actually make me desperate to pick up the next issue and see what happens, which may have something to do with the fact that it is a retread of an old story, or something to do with the fact that Stark simply isn’t a particularly pleasant character so there’s no reason to engage with him.  I suspect though that more than anything it’s because this is simply Warren writing by the numbers, and the results are not enthralling.

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