Sunday, May 01, 2005

ULTIMATE SECRET #1-2

And my love affair with Warren Ellis in the Ultimateverse continues.

I'm completely enamored of Ellis's run on Ultimate Fantastic Four, but the man does frustrate with timeliness -- Planetary and Iron Man, anyone? -- and I was tempted to hold off on Ultimate Secret until it was complete before starting it. It's already running out of sync, requiring a little note explaining that it takes place before Ultimates 2 begins, so holding off wouldn't exactly hurt. But I did start it and I'm mighty glad that I did.

If Ellis were writing the entire Ultimate universe, it would be a wonderful place. As it is, he's got about half of it right here, so I'll take what I can get. We've got a sarcastic Kree operative, a badass Nick Fury, an over-the-top Iron Man, and frisky supergeeks Sue Storm and Reed Richards, so who needs the X-Men?

At the end of the last series, Ultimate Nightmare, the big uh-oh was revealed to be everyone's second-favorite planet-eater, Galactus. This time around, the good guys are having slightly better luck with the resident aliens: Captain Marvel is here to help. Not that Captain Marvel -- he's up to his spit-curl in poo over in the DCU. The Kree watcher, undercover as scientist Dr. Philip Lawson, has defected and is offering up information, if not necessarily a way to deal with the imminent destruction of the planet. And that means that Fury, skeptical and frustrated, is left to organize the planet-saving.

These issues were laugh-out-loud funny in so many places. Ellis's dialogue sparkles and cuts and it moves briskly without anyone sounding alike. As is his wont, Ellis is indulging his love of science and pseudoscience -- tweaking the laws of physics to get to fantastic places, fabricating technology, and drawing deep from the well of Sci-Fi lore. If his love of technobabble gets you, then skim past those parts -- but don't let it turn you off to a rollicking good story featuring legendary B-movie references, a particle accelerator doubling as a moonshine still, and some pretty good action scenes. Penciller Steve McNiven's work reminds me a bit of Michael Turner and a bit of Adrian Alphona, but it's nice to look at.

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