The Comic Book Club: Steel and Ultimate Comics Captain America

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DOUGLAS: As for Ultimate Comics Captain America #1: I thought the point of the Ultimate line was to do things with the Marvel characters that couldn’t be done in a 616 series–the extended teenage soap opera that is Bendis’s Ultimate Spider-Man, the chopped-and-screwed remix that was Ultimate Fantastic Four, the let’s-break-all-the-toys dick move of Ultimatum. (I also thought both this and Ultimate Comics Thor were supposed to be released day-and-date digitally, but as of Wednesday night, when I’m writing this, neither this issue nor last week’s Ultimate Thor are on Marvel’s app yet.)

But this? This is a couple of paste-ups away from being a straightforward Marvel Universe Captain America miniseries. The biggest twist is the appearance of a 25-year-old character at the very end of the story, with his role slightly modified. Aaron’s a solid dramatist–that opening scene is pretty effective–and it’s interesting to see Ron Garney working in that slicked-up, Bryan Hitch-ish style that’s become the default for the Ultimate line. (It’s also interesting that, like Rob Liefeld, Garney apparently doesn’t like to draw feet: there are only seven pages this issue on which we see a full human figure, and there are a couple on which characters’ bodies extend beyond the panel borders but are cut off at the thigh. That’s the risk of “widescreen” layouts, I suppose.) I just don’t understand why it’s an Ultimate title, other than that Ed Brubaker’s basically got a lock on the Marvel Universe version of Captain America (with a more interesting interpretation).

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GRAEME: I’m glad it’s not just me who thought that this was a retread of stories I’d already read elsewhere. It seems pointless to accuse the Ultimate line of being unoriginal, despite Brian Michael Bendis’ constant “This is the line where ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN!” claims; more and more, the Ultimate line seems like the place where writers can live out their fanfic for the stories they loved in their youth. It’s not bad, exactly, but there’s nothing really that interesting about it, either, and “Cap versus Extremist Replacement Cap!” as an idea feels like something that Steve Englehart did a lot better thirty-odd years ago.

That said, I really liked the art here. Garney’s a weird artist who used to live or die depending on who inked him. Here, with no inker and a relatively sympathetic colorist, I think he looks really good – and I didn’t even notice the lack of feet anywhere.

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