Jonathan Hickman, how do you do it?
If you go back to my review of Ultimate Invasion #1, I said it’s almost impossible to talk about how good this book is without spoiling it, and that rings true here. There’s so much going on, and it’s such a smart comic in very subtle ways, where upon re-reading it, I picked up on so much more of what was going on and how information was being communicated to the reader.
It’s a comic that demands your attention, from beginning to end. As much as I love a Hickman comic, and believe me, I love a Hickman comic, there’s something about this issue that makes it stand out from the rest. When I usually read a comic written by him, there’s gorgeous art to go along with it, but rarely does the art ever do the talking on its own. It’s always a story added on top of the art to explain what’s going on.
Here, he lets Stefano Caselli and David Curiel cook. I’m sure the moments I’m thinking about are in the script (look at the windows in the opening pages), but it’s not something that is intentionally given attention to by the reader, and even so, upon first read, is something that will just rest in your head subconsciously until the reveal kicks in, which is when you go “Oh. Ohhhhhh,” and then when you reread it you’ll end up going “Oh!” There’s so many moments like this spread across the issue, between telling its own story, and setting up the three books we’re going to be getting starting next year, that just has me so excited for what’s in store.
Compared to Ultimate Invasion #1 though, this one can be read standalone. It’s slightly confusing, yes, but I think it explains enough for you to be fine without having read Ultimate Invasion, even though your enjoyment does increase when you add that book to the mix, as bits and parts of it are referenced throughout.
The art here is phenomenal, and I like that where previously we had Bryan Hitch deliver his swan song on an universe he helped create, here we get one of the artists of one of the new books in this universe (Caselli is drawing Ultimate Black Panther) to showcase Earth-6160 in a new light, with a new visual signature. Curiel’s colours are also perfect, I love how dramatically he colours scenes and they elevate every moment. Caramagna’s lettering is also great as per usual.
It isn’t all perfect though. In the very beginning, there’s Elder Futhark, or what looks to be like it, on a prison door, and upon translation it’s gibberish. I’m not sure if it is, or if we’re going to get context on it later, but as it stands it’s very random and I wonder what’s up with that.
The other bit is one I’m skeptical of being an error. On one hand, it could be, it’s just the colour of a character’s eyes, but on the other, it feels so deliberate, especially in conjunction with another moment in Ultimate Invasion, that I cannot help but wonder if it’s alluding to something more. If it is, I’m a genius, and if not then well, sometimes I too need to take an L and realize I’m reading too deep into something that isn’t meant to be read deep into. It’s not something I can really dive into without spoilers, but it does leave me very curious.
The start of the new Ultimate Universe is absolutely bombastic, and I for one, absolutely cannot wait for what’s coming. Like the original, the set up for this feels so fresh, so unique, and it’s so interesting. I’ll be there for all three books, and you should be too, while also picking this up today.