Alright, I’m just going to lead with it. I don’t want to get my hopes up. I mean, I really don’t want to get my hopes up, just to have them dashed. But honestly, as much as the crossover it’s part of hasn’t been great, Hulk hasn’t been terrible lately. Actually, fairly good at times, to be honest. Then, Ultimate X came out, and it was really a fun read with a LOT of potential. Now… this? Ladies and gentlemen, I’m hesitant to say this but I think…
Jeph Loeb is back.
New Ultimates #1 is a really good read, top to bottom. There’s a healthy dose of action, courtesy of the returning Ultimate Defenders. Their newly superpowered status also sets up the seeds of the first big arc we’ll see on this book. Where and how did these guys get their powers? Tony Stark wants to find out, and what Tony Stark wants, Tony Stark gets. Just ask Director of SHIELD, Carol Danvers.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we see what’s going on with Thor since his death in Ultimatum. Oh, don’t spoiler alert me! It’s been months since Ultimatum wrapped and just about everyone died anyways, this isn’t news. But what does it mean for a god to die, and what must one do to be free from such a fate? I’ll give you a hint… you’ll be glad Frank Cho was on art duties.
There’s also a fun side piece with Ka-Zar, Shanna, and T’Challa enjoying an ill-fated romp through New York, which sets up our b (or is it c) plot quite perfectly.
The real star of the show here, however, is Tony Stark’s internal monologue. The narration from Stark frames the story in a very natural way, but it does more than that. It grounds Loeb. Stark talks about his cancer, and an experience he had meeting a young cancer patient named Sam. Yes, he’s talking about Sam Loeb, the son Jeph lost to cancer almost five years ago. It was then that I really feel Jeph’s writing took a turn. His books turned into treatments for Michael Bay movies instead of being gripping, intetesting stories. I’ve suggested that maybe it was the loss of his son that changed him; that took the joy and art out of the writing. Well, it feels like maybe Jeph’s come full circle. Like maybe the wounds have begun to heal, the weight has begun to lift, and he’s found his footing – and passion – again.
This issue moved me, even though the book itself wasn’t an emotional piece in the slightest. Simply feeling the emotion the writer was drawing on as he wrote it, however, was an extremely profound experience. I hope I’m right. I hope Jeph has found himself again. I hope this was a catharsis. Because this is the kind of writing that made kids like me and Sam fall in love with comic books. It’s the kind of writing we need more of. It’s the kind of writing Jeph should be proud of.
New Ultimates #1 gets 5 out of 5 stages of grief. I can’t wait to see what Jeph and Frnak have in store for us next month.