cover image THE ULTIMATES: Homeland Security

THE ULTIMATES: Homeland Security

Mark Millar, . . Marvel, $17.99 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-7851-1078-1

Following their nihilistic run on The Authority , Millar and Hitch turn their attention to reinventing the Avengers, the Mightiest Heroes of Marvel's Earth, into a more contemporary, less optimistic team. As is the current superhero fashion, actions have consequences, and super powers don't confer super ethics. The Hulk is now a lustful mass murderer; Giant-Man, a wife-beater; and Thor, a deranged left-wing hippie. Under the leadership of government tough guy Nick Fury, this ultimate team takes on an alien invasion that goes back three centuries and even caused WWII. Since the aliens can take human form, this conveniently allows the Ultimates to use their powers to beat their foes into piles of pulp. However, the real adversaries are their own personal problems and the enervating power of moral ambiguity. Hitch is one of the top artists in comics and masterfully creates scenes of both wholesale destruction and dramatic confrontation that call for good-looking heroes to flex their muscles. He also excels at the pacing between the two modes. Millar's story plunges onward, but the characterization is curiously flat, even with the quirks and frailties he's given the cast. In the end, this new world of unyielding heroes is just as two-dimensional as the corny do-gooders of yore that they're replacing. Every era needs its own stereotypes, however, and these certainly fit the bill. (June)