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The Ultimates by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch Omnibus (Review/Retrospective)

The Ultimates got me into comics. I’d read a couple beforehand, of course, and picked up a stray issue in the nineties, but it was The Ultimates that convinced me that superhero comic books could be something bold and innovative and clever, rather than generic and plain. Looking back, I think that The Ultimates stands as one of Marvel’s crowning accomplishments of the last decade, with only New X-Men and Daredevil ever really coming close. A lot of people argue that it’s the cynical world view that sets Mark Millar’s origin story apart, and gives it a broad appeal, but I’d disagree.

I think that Millar’s story doesn’t work because it dismantles the conventional superhero narrative through glib nihilism and cool apathy, but rather because it vindicates that ideal by passing it through a crucible. In many ways, The Ultimates is perhaps the most optimistic superhero story I’ve ever read, if only because the idealism is truly earned.

Holding out for some heroes…

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