Review: Ultimate Avengers By Mark Millar Omnibus

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Mark Millar is a controversial figure.

No one can doubt what he’s given to comics and, indeed, films. He changed the Marvel landscape with Civil War, gave us London’s Kapow! convention, and launched CLiNT magazine. Oh, and supplied us with possibly the most violent and swear-ridden comic known to man.

It’s been ten years now since the critically-acclaimed Ultimates hit the shelves, introducing warped versions of the familiar MU Avengers. And in Mark Millar’s latest omnibus collection, we’re introduced to warped versions of the warped versions.

Ultimate Avengers By Mark Millar Omnibus collects the first three volumes of the titular comic book (each comprising of six issues) and Ultimate Avengers vs. New Ultimates #1-6 in a beautiful white and gold/green exterior that won’t break your wrist unlike some other omnibuses. And with an RRP of £55.99, it’s pretty reasonably priced, considering that you can typically get a copy for about £35. As ever with the omnibus range, it’s wonderfully presented, with nice glossy finishes, a stand-out, white spine and a few ‘special features’ at the back, like variant covers, sketchbooks and cover ideas; it’s fleeting, but a welcome addition.

It begins three weeks after Ultimatum, an event generally considered as bad as comics get, and immediately sets up the premise of the whole book, even though this won’t become apparent until quite a way in. This first arc ushers in the return of Carlos Pacheco (Avengers Forever; Fantastic Four) to Marvel, and his stunning art echoes the widescreen-work of original Ultimates illustrator, Bryan Hitch. He’s a perfect choice for the book, and, coupled with colourist, Justin Ponsor and a plethora of inkers, gives the volume a fresh and exciting feel. The spreads and flowing layouts really help its pace, which has the feel of a blockbuster movie to it. And this is something Millar is often criticised for.

Ultimate Nick Fury sets out his agenda

I can see it both ways. Yes, comics are a medium of their own right; a medium that doesn’t have to be defined by or likened to others, particularly films. This is the reason Alan Moore doesn’t like to see V for Vendetta and Watchmen on the big screen. However, I also feel that as long as it sparks the imagination, it doesn’t really matter.

We also have to remember that many will be flocking to comics after seeing the big-hitters like Avengers Assemble and The Amazing Spider-Man in cinemas and on DVD, so these ‘widescreen,’ sweeping techniques are well suited as an introduction to the medium. As long as the characters are well-written, the dialogue is snappy, and the plot is interesting and relevant, does it really matter if an issue or storyline has the feel of a movie?

The Ultimate origin of the Red Skull…

And maybe this is an issue with Millar’s Ultimate Avengers. While much of the dialogue is good – “[Spider-Man] can drive a man to suicide in three or four exchanges,” someone remarks – and the characters involving, not all of them are particularly likeable. And this is surely a big problem with heroes you’re supposed to be rooting for. Indeed, some of the pointless deaths that occur hardly make an impact. Captain America and Hawkeye remain the most likeable, especially as the former is the personification of a one-man army, but many of the others are just there as replacements for the original Ultimates line-up. There’s a new Black Widow, a new Hulk (or two), and a new Iron Man (sort of) – and only the latter is remotely successful. In fact, I really hate what Millar’s done with the Hulk: the ‘original’ Hulk is a useless addition, while the ‘Nerd’ Hulk is ridiculous.

‘Nerd’ Hulk vs… Iron Man?

Oh, and in case that wasn’t enough, there’s a new Captain America too. Even though the original’s still there, on the whole. And this new Captain is… uh, the Punisher. Maybe this is why the deaths are meaningless: you know another replacement will be along any minute.

The low point for the team comes in volume two, where they’re overshadowed by an amazing Ghost Rider, awesomely drawn by Leinil Francis Yu (Secret Invasion; Wolverine), as he goes up against Blackthorn. (In fact, his Ghost Rider might be the best rendition I’ve seen!) It’s not that strong a story, mainly due to a ragtag team of Avengers who you know won’t gel. With the original Avengers and Ultimates, there were many arguments and fisticuffs, but you just knew that, in the end, Captain America, Iron Man and Thor would get along. But here, there’s too little chemistry and heart.

Ultimate Ghost Rider. Wow.

However, this isn’t a terrible omnibus, as many expected. Actually there’s a lot to enjoy.

As previously stated, Captain America really kicks butt, particularly in the first arc, which heralds in the first and only appearance of the Ultimate Universe’s Red Skull. The twist on his origin isn’t that surprising, but it’s still pretty cool, and suitably gruesome. The death of Nikolai Laskov is particularly horrible – so naturally, there’s some mindless violence lingering on from Kick-Ass.

The third arc riffs off the huge vampire trend of late, something which Millar has come under criticism for. But it’s actually a great move. Keeping up with trends, and predicting the next ones, will always draw readers in, and it’s something that Marvel – and, indeed, every noteworthy company – has always done. Plus there’s a fantastic Twilight parody.

 I was initially sceptical of Steve Dillon’s artistic contributions to the storyline that introduces us to Blade, but, actually, it’s very fitting. But Leinil Yu makes a welcome return in the final storyline, which pits the Ultimates against the Avengers. There are plenty of surprises throughout, but especially in this concluding tale, which starts off really strong. The addition of Spider-Man seems forced – as the Punisher aptly notes, “where the %&*# did HE come from?!” – but Frank’s guilt is great.

The ‘Hulked-out’ heroes in Ultimate Avengers vs. New Ultimates #5 is a bit too silly for my liking, but generally, Millar’s conclusions are really strong. The finale to the third arc is very visual and cinematic – clever too – as is the way the Red Skull is dealt with in the first storyline.

Yes, there are plenty of clichés thrown about, and character depth isn’t at its most fascinating, but there’s still a lot to enjoy here. Well worth thirty-odd quid.

If you want to see Mark Millar at his best, pick up The Ultimates. But if you want him in his “not-at-his-best-but-still-much-better-than-most” mode, order Ultimate Avengers now.

40% off Death of Spider-man!

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Get over to forbiddenplanet.co.uk for a huge 40% saving on November’s Death of Spider-man Omnibus.

The 600-page HC has an RRP of £55.99, but if you pre-order from fp.co.uk before Wednesday 6th June 2012, you’ll pay just £33.59!

The omnibus is a perfect companion piece to Ultimate Comic Avengers By Mark Millar and the upcoming Ultimate Spider-man.

You can find out more about the omnibus here.

Death of Spider-man Omnibus Announced!

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Following on from Ultimate Comics: Avengers By Mark Millar and next month’s Ultimate Spider-man, November sees the release of Ultimate Comics Spider-man: Death of Spider-man Omnibus. Here’s the blurb, thanks to CBR:

ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN: DEATH OF SPIDER-MAN OMNIBUS HC

Cover art by Joe Quesada

Written by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS, MARK MILLAR, JONATHAN HICKMAN & NICK SPENCER

Penciled by SARA PICHELLI, DAVID LAFUENTE, JOELLE JONES, JAMIE MCKELVIE, SKOTTIE YOUNG, LAN MEDINA, ELENA CASAGRANDE, CHRIS SAMNEE, MARK BAGLEY, LEINIL FRANCIS YU, STEPHEN SEGOVIA, GABRIEL HARDMAN, BRYAN HITCH, LEE GARBETT, STEVEN KURTH, ERIC NGUYEN, CARLO PAGULAYAN, SALVADOR LARROCA, CLAYTON CRAIN, LUKE ROSS, BILLY TAN & MITCH BREITWEISER

Cover by JOE QUESADA
For more than ten years, Eisner Award-winning writer Brian Michael Bendis has spun the tale of young Peter Parker. Under his pen, the neophyte Spider-Man blossomed from an awkward and gangly schoolboy into a tried-and-true hero, an inspiration to a world of ultimate wonder. But all stories must come to an end. And as shadows gather, villains plot and heroes clash, Peter’s final story will unfold. It’s the death of Spider-Man — and the ending will shock you.

Collecting ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN (2009) #15 and #150-160, ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS VS. NEW ULTIMATES #1-6, and ULTIMATE COMICS FALLOUT #1-6.
600 PGS./Rated T+ …$75.00
ISBN: 978-0-7851-6464-7
Trim size: oversized

Bit of a shame to see that Ultimate Comics Avengers vs. New Ultimates is being included in this omnibus as well as the Ultimate Comics Avengers By Mark Millar one, but I guess it’s fitting. Still, this omnibus will be a must-read.

“The Next Generation”: 40% Off Ultimate Comics Avengers!

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April 2012 sees the release of the Ultimate Comics Avengers omnibus, which collects some of Mark Millar’s final work for Marvel (though he may still return after the expansion of the MillarWorld line).

Art by Leinil Yu.

Until 16th November – yep, just under a week – you can pre-order the HC for £33.59, a 40% saving off its RRP of £55.99, from forbiddenplanet.co.uk.

http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/index.php?main_page=product_music_info&products_id=67238

Written by Mark Millar, and pencilled by Carlos Pacheco, Leinil Francis Yu, Steve Dillon and Stephen Segovia, the omnibus collects Ultimate Avengers #1- 6, Ultimate Avengers 2 #1- 6, Ultimate Avengers 3 #1-6 and Ultimate Comics Avengers Vs. New Ultimates #1- 6, and sees the Ultimates and Avengers battling against the Red Skull, Ghost Rider and a whole heap o’vampires!

Carlos Pacheco's Ultimate Cap!

The material in the 608-page book is also collected in paperback and hardcover graphic novels, under the titles: The Next Generation; Crime and Punishment; Blade vs. The Avengers; and Avengers vs. New Ultimates: Death of Spider-man.

Amazon.co.uk and thebookdepository.co.uk have the omnibus for £41.99, while forbiddenplanet.com has it on pre-order for £38.63.

Art by Leinil Yu.

Will you be buying it? Are you a Mark Millar fan? And did you pick up the last Ultimates omnibus? Please share your views; all are welcome.

January 2012’s Solicitations

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Marvel has just released details of what’s coming in January 2012… and it looks like Amazon.co.uk was right with their prediction of Mark Millar’s run on Ultimate Comics Avengers. It seems that December will be a quiet time for Omnibus fans, but the New Year will continue the trend of two releases a month. Here are the solicitations for Ultimate Comics Avengers and – get ready to be excited – The Amazing Spider-man Volume Two…!

ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS BY MARK MILLAR OMNIBUS

Cover art by Leinil Francis Yu.

Written by MARK MILLAR

Penciled by CARLOS PACHECO, LEINIL FRANCIS YU, STEVE DILLON & STEPHEN SEGOVIA

COVER BY LEINIL FRANCIS YU

All of superstar Mark Millar’s ULTIMATE AVENGERS sagas, collected in one volume!

• Captain America goes rogue to learn the truth about the Red Skull, and S.H.I.E.L.D. commissions a new team to bring him in!

• A 7-foot-tall biker with a flaming skull has been brutally murdering the rich and powerful, and the White House orders the Avengers to take down the Ghost Rider!

• The various vampire clans have united under a charismatic new leader encased in a salvaged Iron Man suit. Can Blade and the Avengers work together to stem the blood-red tide?

Collecting Ultimate Avengers #01-06; Ultimate Avengers 2 #01-06; Ultimate Avengers 3 #01-06; and Ultimate Comics Avengers vs. New Ultimates #01-06.

608 PGS./Parental Advisory …$75.00

ISBN: 978-0-7851-6132-5

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN OMNIBUS VOL. 2

Cover art by John Romita.

Written by STAN LEE

Penciled by JOHN ROMITA with DON HECK, LARRY LIEBER, JIM MOONEY & MARIE SEVERIN

Covers by HUMBERTO RAMOS & JOHN ROMITA

The Stan Lee/John Romita era starts here! Lee and Romita transformed the web-slinger into Marvel’s top title with stories that raised your spirits, tore at your heartstrings and kept you on the edge of your seat. From the revelation of the Green Goblin’s secret identity to the unforgettable entrance of Mary Jane Watson, these classics define Spidey to this day — with star-studded debuts including the Kingpin, the Rhino and Captain Stacy; Spidey’s disastrous first tryout with the Avengers; the iconic “Spider-Man No More!” issue; the true story of Peter Parker’s parents; and an epic battle against the Green Goblin!

Cover art by Humberto Ramos.

Collecting Amazing Spider-man#39-67 and Annual #03-05; Spectacular Spiderman Magazine #01-02; and material from Not Brand Echh #02, 06 and 11.

968 PGS./Rated T …$99.99

ISBN: 978-0-7851-5857-8 (Ramos cover) and ISBN: 978-0-7851-6014-4 (Romita cover).

The first ASM omnibus was released in 2007, and collected the entire Steve Ditko run, so it’s about time we had a follow-up, featuring the brilliant art of John Romita.

Amazing Spider-man #67

Obviously, with this omnibus finishing on ASM #67, there’s plenty of Lee and Romita’s legendary run remaining, so maybe we’ll see even more of the web-head in 2012. Who else is hoping for a follow-up to Uncanny X-Men Volume One or other classic omnibuses?

January’s going to be a great month – especially for those with excess money from Christmas!

“What Would Spidey Do?”: 40% off Spider-man!

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If you’re a fan of Spider-man – and who isn’t?! – get over to Forbiddenplanet.co.uk for a massive 40% saving off March’s Untold Tales of Spider-man omnibus. With an RRP of £75, by clicking on the link below you can pre-order it for £45:

http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/index.php?main_page=product_music_info&products_id=66705

Cover B By Pat Olliffe

Get there now though – the offer ends on Wednesday 12th October 2011! It only applies to Cover B… but it’s by the excellent Pat Olliffe, so if you have a problem with that, there’s probably something wrong with you. Olliffe also provides Cover A; so it’s win-win!

The 800-page omnibus collects Amazing Fantasy #16-18 (from 1995), Untold Tales Of Spider-Man #1-25, #-1, Annual 1996-1997 and Strange Encounter, plus material from Amazing Spider-Man Annual #37, and is written by Kurt Busiek, G.L. Lawrence, Tom DeFalco, Roger Stern and Fred Hembeck. There’s a plethora of fantastic artists too, including: Pat Olliffe, Paul Lee, Greg Loundon, Ron Frenz, Bob McLeod, Mike Allred, Tom Lyle, and John Romita.

Cover A... also by Pat Olliffe!

It’s expected around 14th March, and features some of the supposedly-‘lost’ stories of Peter Parker as the wall crawling menace.

If you wanna see what’s included in this omnibus, take a look here:

http://spiderfan.org/comics/title/spiderman_untold_tales.html

Really does look awesome, huh?

The seriously cool cover to Untold Tales of Spider-man #15

Forbiddenplanet.co.uk also have Cover A for £48.70, while Amazon.co.uk has Cover B for this price too. Forbiddenplanet.com has the highest price for both covers at £51.74. WHSmiths.co.uk has it on pre-order for £49.50.

In other news…

 

Amazon.co.uk has revealed a really big teaser of things to come: they’ve got an omnibus pre-order for April 2012… Ultimate Comics Avengers By Mark Millar. Of course, the range has previous with the Ultimates omnibus, which is now long out-of-print. Here’s the blurb, straight off Amazon:

“All of superstar Mark Millar’s Ultimate Avengers sagas, collected in one oversized volume! In a bid to learn the truth about the devious Red Skull, Captain America goes rogue and S.H.I.E.L.D. commissions a new group of Avengers to bring him in. But can Nick Fury, Hawkeye, War Machine, Red Wasp, the new Black Widow and Nerd Hulk hope to keep Cap from his mission? Then: a 7-foot-tall biker with a flaming skull has been brutally murdering rich and powerful men across America, and the White House orders the Avengers to take down the Ghost Rider by any means necessary.”

Apparently a 608-page HC, the book has an RRP of £55.99, but they have it for £47.59. If they’re right, I’m looking forward to this one; what do you think, everyone?

October Price List

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Here’s October 2010’s price list for future reference. Take a look at the updated price list when you’ve got a mo, and tell me what you think!

Omnibus Amazon.co.uk Forbiddenplanet.co.uk Forbiddenplanet.com
Fantastic Four V1 71.25                       — 46.80
Alias             —                       —                       —
Uncanny X-Men V1             —                       —                       —
The Eternals             —                       —                       —
New X-Men             —                       —                       —
Miller’s Daredevil V1             —                       —                       —
Amazing Spider-man  V1 53.67                       —                       —
Silver Surfer             —                       —                       —
Fantastic Four V2             —                       —                       —
Devil Dinosaur             —                       —                       —
Amazing Fantasy 41.99 41.99 32.99
Brubaker’s Captain America V1              —             —                       —                       —
Miller’s Daredevil Companion             —                       —                       —
Invincible Iron Man V1             — 48.75                       —
Incredible Hulk V1             — 50.25 41.23
Howard the Duck             —                       — 43.55
Bendis’ Daredevil V1             —                       —                       —
Elektra             — 33.49 34.49
Tomb of Dracula V1             —                       — 44.85
The Punisher             —                       —                       —
Secret Wars 56.49 50.25 42.90
Wolverine 63.75 50.25 48.46
The X-Men V1 56.49 50.25 51.75
Secret Wars 2 56.49 50.25 51.75
Brubaker’s Daredevil V1             —                       — 37.51
Immortal Iron Fist 47.59 37.51 37.51
The Ultimates             —                       —                       —
Captain Britain             — 50.25 49.99
Astonishing X-Men 47.59 37.51 44.16
Golden Age of Marvel 63.39 63.65                       —
The Death of Captain America 30.40 33.59 33.59
Tomb of Dracula V2 52.59 50.25 51.75
Bendis’ Daredevil V2 42.71 50.25 51.75
Invincible Iron Man V2 63.75 50.25 51.74
Brubaker’s Daredevil V2 41.99 37.51 38.63
Tomb of Dracula V3 52.50 50.25 51.74
Straczynski’s Thor             — 32.82 33.80
Ghost Rider 26.59 25.45 26.21
Squadron Supreme 39.19 37.51 38.63
On Pre-Order:
Women of Marvel 66.5 63.65 64.85
Acts of Vengeance             — 50.25 51.74
The Mighty Thor 56.25 50.25 51.74
Captain America Lives! 34.99 32.82 33.8
Atlantis Attacks 47.59 37.51 38.63
Kirby’s Captain America 41.99 37.51 38.63
Simonson’s Thor 71.25 63.65 64.85
X-Men V2 63.75 50.25                       —
X-Men: Fall of the Mutants 56.25 50.25                       —

UPDATED: 25th October 2010. All prices are in British Pound (£), unless otherwise stated.

NOTES:

Bold:     Best deal.

–:           Omnibus not available/ OOP (out-of-print)

V:            Volume.

Fp:          Forbidden Planet ie. fp.co.uk =  forbiddenplanet.co.uk.

Italics:   Item not in stock at fp.com, but available to order. There is no guarantee that you will get the omnibus, so it will not be considered the best deal, even if the price is the lowest, unless amazon.co.uk and fp.co.uk do not have stocks available either.

Underlined:        Variant edition only. Generally, variants copies have a more limited printing, so are rarer to find.

Things to remember:

Look at regular blog for deals at other stores, like whsmith.co.uk, and waterstones.com. All prices are correct at time of update. Prices do not include postage and packaging.

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