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Comics Digest #1

Hello there. I'm Seb Patrick. You may remember me and my associate James Hunt from such comics review colums as Panel Beating and Alternate Cover. You know, back when this site actually had comics coverage. Well, we're back. Kind of. You see, we now have a brand new comics review site, Comics Daily, which we're rather happy with; but we didn't want to completely neglect NTS in terms of content. So here's the deal - every Saturday, we're going to post a "digest" of CD content. You'll get our Thursday "headline review" of the week in full, along with snippets of the rest of the week's content, which you can choose to visit and peruse as you please...

This week, the headline review is a gruelling dissection of Jeph Loeb's catastrophic Ultimates 3 #3, while our retro "Dusting Off" series looks at a mid-90s Superman : The Man of Steel. Plus Booster Gold, Hulk and New Avengers...

The Thursday Headline : Ultimates 3 #3

Posted by James on Thursday 21st Feb. Original post.

There's little point reviewing Jeph Loeb's Ultimates by now. If you're still buying it, then you deserve all you're getting, frankly. If you want to read about the real Ultimates, well, go and buy Ultimate Human instead, because it's MUCH BETTER. Now, while we take the fairly healthy line that in comics, continuity is merely a tool that can be used to help or hinder a good story, that doesn't mean that we're ignorant of it. It also doesn't mean we can resist shooting fish in a barrel. Today, rather than a review, Seb and I have compiled a list of all the ways in which Loeb has screwed up in another exciting issue of Jeph Loeb's Ultimate Ultimates!


PREVIOUSLY: A whole bunch of unreadable shit happened! The Scarlet Witch is dead! Quicksilver left with Magneto! Wolverine turns up at the Ultimate Avengers Ultimate Mansion! And then the problems begin, as he starts to investigate what's been going on here, generally rubbing everyone up the wrong way.


Three Kids. Hawkeye had THREE KIDS. This mistake so upsets Hawkeye that rather than noticing, he initiates a double-page spread with Wolverine! Luckily Captain America is available to intervene. But he doesn't like what he's hearing!


You might have noticed that Ultimate Cap has been reduced to a single note of characterisation. For you see, he is from the Ultimate 40s, and back then, no-one swore or had sex, and he'll be damned if he's going to allow a single instance of any of that sort of thing pass without comment. For instance, last issue:


Or the issue before that:


It's not quite as subtle as when he was trying to reassemble his record collection, is it? Additionally, check that first panel again. It's fairly amusing that after years of forgetting to draw Wolverine as a shorter man, artists are now forgetting that Ultimate Wolverine is not short like the 616 version. Or perhaps you missed his previous, ooh, hundred appearances?


Luckily Thor is around to stop the fighting. As established last issue, in order to prove that he was a genuine Norse god, Thor had taken to talking perfect English, but now he doesn't have to pretend! Er, sure. Presumably, this is because Thor recognised that a Norseman talking in King James English is a completely bonkers idea best left in the 60s, and if he'd done that in front of Millar's Ultimates team they'd have thrown him in the crazy house immediately. It would have been stupid then, and hey! IT'S STUPID NOW.


And what's worse, it appears to be catching on. Wolverine then tries to explain, using "logic", why everyone should've seen this coming, relating the time he had sex with the Scarlet Witch's mother, Ultimate Magda:


It's not surprising he's staring so hard. Either she's got some kind of adamantium-laced breasts, or gravity has taken leave of its senses. Either way, when the room you're having sex in appears to be entirely on fire, it's probably not worth worrying about. Before the whole place can burn down, though, Logan experiences a severe turn of Coitus Interruptus when Magneto bursts through the door!

"First you sleep with my wife, then you misspell my name in flashback!"

Having been kicked to the curb, Logan narrates the first time he met the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, when he joined the brotherhood.


This may just be Loeb responding directly to criticisms about the Scarlet Witch's slutwear costume (in much the same way as the issue's RECAP PAGE *finally* tackles both the reason Hank isn't in the Triskelion, and why Valkyrie has powers...) but why does Logan say "Didn't ANY of you notice what she was wearing recently?" Why would it be significant to them? No-one in the Ultimates would have ever seen anything besides her Shield uniform, would they?

And let's get this straight. This scene happens post Weapon X, pre-Ultimate X-Men. That is, during the period where Wolverine had his brain wiped, and didn't know his own name. He only found it out when (a) Captain America recognised him from the '40s and called him it, and (b) when Cyclops gave him a wedding ring with it engraved on (er, in a non-gay way). There is absolutely NO conceivable way he would have known it at this point, and even less reason for Wanda to.

Magneto is so upset by this whole state of affairs that he takes the only reasonable action:


Magneto hates his son, sure. But he's still his son, and Mags has more morals than that (when it comes to mutants, anyway). Unfortunately, Wolverine fails to carry out his test of loyalty when Wanda intervenes, and presumably, the whole matter is dropped forever. You see, deciding to kill your son is the kind of issue you can really flip-flop over. If at first you don't succeed, forget you ever tried, right? Surely, if Magneto ever wanted to kill Pietro, he'd have done so when he shot him through the kneecaps?


Luckily for Wolverine, Jeph Loeb has never read an Ultimate Comic. Wanda, as written here, is so far removed from the way she was as introduced in Ultimate X-Men that it's hard to know where to start. Where's the smart, sensual, confident women who attempted to seduce Cyclops and was a major part of the Brotherhood's plotting? All we've got here is a wet, soppy, poor, whinging excuse for a character. "Oh, I don't WANT to conjure that! I don't LIKE dinosaurs! These clothes are too restrictive!"

Just in case it's not clear, it seems that this entire plot is setting up, god help us, some kind of Ultimate House of M. At the very least, we seem to be getting Ultimate Avengers Disassembled right now. Sounds to me like Ultimatum might just involve Wanda "rewriting" the Ultimate Universe...

Back in the future, nobody is really sure what Wolverine was trying to tell them, but Jan decides that some of them will go and find Magneto, presumably to ask him to clarify this confusing sequence of events. She forbids Cap to come along, because for some reason, she thinks that Captain America - a man from the 40s, lest we forget - is best placed to deal with the media interest on this story.

Speaking of which, remember when Janet was the most damaged of a damaged group of individuals, battling a severe case of self-loathing that kept driving her back to an abusive husband? Loeb doesn't, so instead she's the leader, perfectly "normal", and utterly devoid of anything resembling "character".


The team going to find Magneto, however, does include the "Black" "Panther" - a strange mute character with an unexplained, mysterious connection to Captain America. And hey, where had he been just now? And where did Cap suddenly disappear to? Why, it's almost like we've never seen them in the same place at once! And Wolverine appears to know the man wearing the costume! But guys, don't worry - we figured it out. The Black Panther is actually Ultimate US Agent in disguise. I've got a good feeling about that prediction.

Seriously, it's so blatant, it's hard to tell whether this is some genuine, sound misdirection, or if Loeb has totally taken leave of his senses and thinks that this kind of thing counts as "subtle foreshadowing." Time will tell.

On her way to the jet, the Wasp encounters Iron Man!


Honestly, Mr. Madureira, we know you draw everyone like they're from a Japanese cartoon, but when one of the characters actually is Asian, please at least try to acknowledge that somehow.

Unfortunately, it's not Iron Man, but a robot of some kind, who delivers a piece of critical exposition, before electrocuting Jan. Meanwhile, in the Savage Land, we get the final-page reveal the fans have been clamouring for since the Ultimate line was launched.


Oh yeah! Ultimate Zabu! Just when you think Ultimates can't get any stupider, something like this happens. AND TOTALLY REDEEMS IT! ROLL ON ISSUE 4!

Dusting Off : Superman : The Man of Steel #37 (Sept 1994)

Posted by Seb on Wednesday 20th Feb.

manofsteel-37.jpgEvery Wednesday we take turns to delve into our trusty longboxes, pluck out a dusty back issue at random, and give you our thoughts. We’ll also try and place it in the context of the time it was originally published.

Since the Booster Gold issue reviewed yesterday was a somewhat belated Zero Hour crossover, I thought for this week’s Dusting Off it might be fun to take a look at one of the original issues, to see if there was in fact any worth in a crossover that is among the most widely-derided of DC’s early ‘90s boom of yearly "event" stories.

Superman : The Man of Steel had the dubious distinction of being the fourth monthly Superman title at the time (after Action Comics, Adventures of Superman­ – the original series from 1939 renamed – and the Superman series that began with John Byrne in the ‘80s). While the four books had different creative teams, the tendency of the time to bounce from big story to big story meant that, really, Superman as a whole was essentially a weekly ongoing (in much the same way as the multiple Spider-Man titles functioned during the Clone Saga). But when Zero Hour came along, each of the titles got the chance to tell its own, individual standalone story.

And as it happens, the one cooked up by Louise Simonson and Jon Bogdanove here is rather neat. Indeed, given what a mess the overall story was, it’s worth noting that a few of the tie-in stories – such as this, and Alan Grant’s excellent "The Battling Butler!" from Shadow of the Bat – actually managed to make good use of the concept of time being in a state of flux, with histories being rewritten and different versions of characters popping in and out of existence...

Continue reading...

The Sunday Pages is our weekly roundup of comics-related news that's caught our attention, complete with pithy comment and wild speculation...

In this week’s column, there’s an update on speculation about Pixie’s status in the post-Messiah Complex X-Men, some stuff about the new Invincible Iron Man ongoing, and speculation about what Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan might be up to…
Continue reading...

Also this week...

Hulk #2
Okay, just so we're clear - this blog isn't going to turn into some kind of anti-Loeb forum - god knows I'd rather be reading good comics than reviewing his bad ones - but it's also not my fault that Hulk #2 and Ultimates #3 came out the same week. It IS my fault that I gave his Hulk run a second chance, though. I do genuinely love the Hulk as a character, and foolishly, I thought it couldn't get any worse than issue #1... Full review

Booster Gold #0
And so Booster Gold continues to confound expectations by being… well… quite good, actually. Even those of us who followed him into his latest solo title through sheer character loyalty (from either Justice League International, 52 or both) surely didn’t see that one coming. But Johns and Katz have found a perfect niche for him – some twenty years after he was first introduced – as he travels through the history of the DC universe secretly righting continuity wrongs. A concept like that simply can’t help but be fun, and so it's proving. Full review

New Avengers #38
Once upon a time there was a book called Alias and it was, by a considerable distance, the best female-fronted superhero comic that has ever been published. It was written by Bendis, drawn by Gaydos, and for its entire run of 28 issues you could barely hope to encounter a finer title on the shelves. Then, one day, the series accidentally ended. According to Bendis' take on things, he finished issue 28, then realised he'd just written the last issue of the series. And by god, it's only been a few years but it feels like decades have passed since then. Full review

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