Ewing and Rocafort's "Ultimates" Stand Guard Against Alien Empires & Cosmic Entities
Continuing my in depth, critical survey of Norse mythological superheroics of the 1980s. Short form: It’s great and everyone should own it. The rest of this post is pretty much overkill, but you can read it if you want to, I guess.
After the Surtur saga ends with Odin being taken off the board, this just keeps going with the epic storylines. We get considerably less Beta Ray Bill and considerably more Sal Buscema art, but neither’s a bad thing, really.
I also wound up getting the Balder the Brave mini which tied in to the Siege of Hel storyline (which in turn gave us this classic story. I’d find the “buy another comic to get the full story!” trick annoying today (in fact, it’s why I’m not buying Uncanny X-Men right now; I don’t want to read Dark Avengers, even if it’s written by Fraction. The $4 price tag doesn’t help either).*
I had no problem with it in this case, though. It was nice that it wound up being more than just gimmickry, as Simonson picked up the plot thread in his swan song on the book, too. That said, I wonder how many people buying this off new stands were annoyed by the constant shout outs and call backs to it.
It kind of sucked to lose Simonson on pencils, but I’ve liked Sal Buscema’s work since his days on Spectacular Spider-Man, so he’s as good a replacement as you can get. Really loved the way he drew the Frost Giants, for one thing.
Simonson returned to do layouts for this issue. It was awesome. That’s all I’ve got there.
The X-Factor crossover worked as well as it possibly could. That would make sense, given that Walt is pretty close to that book’s writer. I also liked Iceman’s brief involvement in Loki’s scheme a few issues later.
Loved the Frog Thor issues. Just that they existed along with all the other issues of the series, really.
So, yeah, I’m pretty fond of this comic. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, it’s the perfect Marvel comic. There’s action, mystery romance, suspense, pathos, beautiful art, mythology, epic battles; face it true believer, it’s pretty much everything that’s great about Marvel in one broad shouldered, eventually bearded package.***
I also liked reading the Bullpen Bulletins. I often read them before the comics themselves. I hate to be nostalgic, but I kind of miss those. Hell, I liked it when they started running creator interviews last year. I also liked being able to read the reactions to the issues shortly after reading them.
I don’t want to sound nostalgic, because that road leads to thinking that 1993 WWF**** was better than anything ever. That said, it’s kind of sad that they don’t exist anymore.
One last thing; I got a handful of issues that followed Simonson’s run. Most of them are written by Tom Defalco, who’d have his own long run on the character. One is written by Jim Shooter, scripted by Stan Lee, and drawn by Eric Larson. This comes after Shooter lost his job as Editor in Chief (I think the announcement of that is in the same issue, but I can’t be bothered to go and find it). So, that’s a pretty crazy creative team.
I’ve only read Defalco’s first issue, though. It’s an inventory story set during Secret War, basically. It’s as corny and bland as I’ve come to expect from Defalco, and features art from the painfully generic Ron Frenz (and I say that as a guy who likes Tom Grummett). That said, there’s a solid idea there about the Enchantress almost changing her ways, so it wasn’t as bad as I made it sound.
*Those really aren’t comparable situations, I just wanted to bitch about the X-Men/Dark Avengers crossover. Even if I’ll probably get the trade, because Jetpack Cyclops.
** So yes, I’m saying it’s like the Spirit with Volstagg. Which makes it a better comic than the Spirt. That is a fact.
*** The debate over Thor growing a beard in the letter pages was hilarious. Of course, being overly fond of my own beard, so I may care about it more than I should. But seriously, people were freaking out because of the beard and the fact that he changed his costume. I realize this was happening around the same time that they were changing up a lot of the Marvel stalwarts (Rhodey as Iron Man, Black Costume Spidey, John Walker as Cap), but seriously; Simonson even worked in a line from Thor about how people occasionally change clothes, I assume with no evidence in response to the backlash.
**** I became a wrestling fan in 1993 and I’m not nostalgic for those shows compared to today’s WWE! But then, growing up in the ’90s made me pretty nostalgia immune.
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