(Panini Books)

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THERE is a scene in this latest volume of The Ultimates which will probably prompt you to swear loudly. It is what they call a “holy s#!*” moment, as something happens which is not only completely unexpected, but also serves as a springboard for years of stories to come. Rest assured, there will be no re-set switch comfortably putting things back to how they were at any point in these books’ future.

Because it is such a defining part of this narrative, I am reluctant to spoil it for anyone coming to this book cold, which necessitates a degree of talking around the subject which I hope you will forgive me for.

Previously in the Ultimates, we witnessed the unveiling of a futuristic city shaped by former hero Reed (Mr Fantastic) Richards, the creation of two floating cities for refugee superhumans in the Far East, and the shocking destruction of Asgard, home of the Norse Gods.

In this second volume, things step up a gear as the United States and the inhabitants of the Celestial and Eternal cities go head-to-head with Richards’ Children of Tomorrow, with the Ultimates caught in the middle… But the consequences of this clash of superhumans will have devastating consequences for the rest of the world, and coupled with the attacks on mutants revealed in Ultimate Comics X-Men, threaten to tear America apart.

As seems to be the norm for the Ultimate Universe at the moment, there is an almost inconceivable level of carnage in this book, to the point where the rising number of casualties almost becomes meaningless as a result.

It’s all very well shocking your audience with a major shake-up of the norm, but at the same time it is essential to follow this up with a period of reflection to take toll of what has been lost and the efforts to rebuild. The signs are good that this is exactly the direction we will see The Ultimates heading in the long-term future, but despite a resolution of sorts to some of the problems they face in this current book, it is unlikely that pause will come anytime soon…

Continuing the title’s tradition for blockbuster, widescreen superheroics, this current book may be veering more towards the disaster movie genre than a traditional action flick, but that doesn’t mean these are probably some of the best Ultimates comics since the first run of the series under Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch back in the early 2000s.

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