Overview

Ultimates 2 #3

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Ultimates 2 #3

Credits

  • Words: Mark Millar
  • Art: Bryan Hitch
  • Inks: Paul Neary
  • Colors: Laura Martin
  • Story Title: Trial of the Incredible Hulk
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Feb 9, 2005

There comes a moment in reading the third issue of Ultimates 2 that almost transcends comics. For just the tiniest of moments, I forgot that I was reading a comic book and instead felt like I was glued to the tube watching an episode of some gloriously addictive hour-long television drama. The first two issues of this volume have been hinting at it, but this all but confirms it. If Ultimates 2 can maintain the momentum it’s been building up, this is a series that is going to deserve some serious attention in the months to come.

The story so far: after a serious security leak, Bruce Banner has been outed in the press as the Hulk. An outraged public has demanded that Banner be tried for the 852 innocents that died in the Hulk’s earlier New York rampage. Having no alternative with the media pounding on their door, the Ultimates have agreed to let Banner stand trial knowing full well he is likely to get the death penalty. As this issue opens, Matt Murdock makes an impassioned courtroom defense on Banner’s behalf while Bruce and the rest of the Ultimates must come to terms with what has happened.

The strength of Mark Millar’s writing abilities lies in the emotional content of the scenes he has written for this issue. There is no super-heroic action, but yet the drama is tense and what unfolds in these pages is unquestionably exciting fare. The way Millar chooses to reveal the court’s verdict and the consequences of that verdict result in some of the most human and emotional scenes to grace any comic in a long while.

That said, here’s hoping Ultimates 2 can keep its winning streak alive. The danger in an ensemble story always involves maintaining a balance between all the characters in the story while still taking the time to explore the drama of individuals. This is a danger The Ultimates flirted with in its first volume and could prove to be its biggest pitfall this time around.

This issue more or less resolves the major conflict introduced so far, leaving only the vague clues that something big involving Thor is on its way. Millar did a stellar job of injecting the Hulk story with the drama and intensity it deserved, but since dropping the hints in #1 that Thor would play a prominent role in this second volume, we’ve barely heard from the Norseman. Hopefully, Millar will be able to strike that balance without sacrificing everything that made an issue like this such a thoughtful and emotional read.

Of course, a big part of the credit for the emotional punch in this issue belongs to the Ultimates art team, which continues to do top-quality work. For being a story about superheroes, this comic renders people and environments in a real-world manner that makes it that much easier to connect and empathize with its characters. From Bryan Hitch’s depictions of an angry, sobbing Banner to his determined Nick Fury and his scraggly burned-out Hank Pym in his slobby apartment, this is excellence.

I’m always trying to get more people interested in comics. Despite comics having a nerdy heroes-in-tights rep among the non-believers, I think there are a lot of would-be fans out there who just need the proper gateway to start appreciating them the way I do. Three issues in, my new preferred gateway is still Ultimates 2. A story this thoughtful ranks right up there with a good episode of 24, Alias, Lost, or Law and Order, and in a perfect world, ought to have a following to compete as well.

- Jesse Vigil

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