DC's Ultimate Universe (ish)
Note: for trade reviews I want to split things into different sections so it’s easy to structure and read I will do this for all trade reviews from now on.
I was really interested in this series unfortunately I couldn’t afford it in single issues but I definitely would get it in hardcover and I was really excited as the premise of this series was really interesting and well I wanted to see how James Robinson would build this whole world up.
Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman die saving the world from an attack from Akopolis and Steppenwolf. Hermes finds Jay Garrick and becomes the Flash.
This was a very enjoyable series and I’m really interested in getting the next hardcover. This definetly isn’t a perfect volume and it doesn’t get a five but out of the new 52 hardcovers (I own) it’s probably 3rd or 4th and I have quite a few. Really what intrigued me with this is the trinity is dead and new heroes have to come up and take responsibility for earth and its protection I wanted to see what each character added to the book and how they interacted as they are fairly different characters and I wanted to see how each of them reacted to each other.
Now we have the stage setting part of the story done Robinson spends three issues or so to introduce the characters. I have to say my favourite is definetly the Flash maybe it’s because he’s the underdog of this group of heroes Hawkgirl and the Atom have training, and Green Lantern learns his powers pretty quickly but Flash is the underdog in the book. Jay Garrick has no training he is thrown straight into combat and well he comes off as a well-rounded character as the story develops originally he’s slightly cocky but later he develops into the underdog of the book as he doesn’t have the training the others have. I related to him more than the other characters and also because I’ve always liked the Flash more than, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl or the Atom. I also really liked Flash’s origin and how he got his powers as it’s different to the main universes and well it adds a certain degree of uncertainty to his powers because of who gave him his powers and how powerful that person is (or more accurately was) I’m interested to see how that aspect is explored more in coming issues as because he’s my favourite character and I want to see what he can do.
The Atom is a soldier and a very big one (pun intended) I like the dynamic he brings to the book and how he sacrifices his pride to help the planet in the end. The Atom is not my favourite character by any means he seems a bit stuck up at points but he is a soldier but it’s early days and I’m sure his character will develop early but altogether I like what he brings to the book as he could easily betray the other heroes because he works for the army so if he teams up again.
Hawkgirl is probably the most intriguing character out of all them because her backstory isn’t addressed properly but Hawkgirl apparently has always been a bit of a mystery (I don’t know much this is what I’ve been told) Hawkgirl is an interesting character definitely because she seems to know a lot more than the other characters especially when she meets the Flash. I wonder what she will add to the book as she seems like a bit of a wildcard because you don’t know her that well she could be very unpredictable.
Now for the controversial part of this series the fact that Alan Scott is now gay I for one do not object to people being gay and I don’t mind comic characters being gay as it adds some realism to the series and characters but Alan Scott is my least favourite character in this series. Now it is not because he’s gay not at all and I don’t hate him I just don’t like him because he’s fairly arrogant in this series especially at the end. I’m not saying he is truly arrogant and snobbish he does come off as an interesting character at point’s especially in the early parts of the series but when he becomes Green Lantern he is very arrogant at the end and I don’t like how he treated the other characters. Yet I must admit there is some interesting story points that could be explored with him and what happened to his boyfriend Sam as that isn’t properly explored in this issue.
James Robinson throws you into the story straight away right into the parademon attack and well issue 1 for the most part is an action scene which primary objective is to set the stage for all that is to come in this series with Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman and their deaths are fairly shocking I knew of course that they were going to die but it happens quick and without warning. I have to say the most emotional is definitely Batman’s as he speaks to his daughter Robin. I liked how this main section played out as it showed the dedication of the heroes to fight to the bitter end and never give up (especially Batman). This part also sets things up for coming events in this story arc with Robin and Supergirl and also the Flash and how he comes into the story.
I liked how in the first issue almost all of the characters appear without their powers and parts of their origin are explored while 2 just seem relatively normal people at the time with nothing special coming out of it (The characters are Alan Scott and Al Pratt) you can tell from larger focus on them something important will happen with the characters. You also see parts set up for World’s finest in the first issue which I think was necessary it may not be the best aspect of the issue and a little forced to happen but it had to happen so I think it worked well in this issue.
I did like how Robinson slowly built up the threat in this series for the new heroes (more on the villain in a minute) but it’s a steady build up to it but there are quite a few hints in the first few then the villain is introduced it lets us get to know the characters well enough and then we get them all to meet and face a larger threat. This works to the books advantage as Robinson doesn’t rush into the threat but he drops enough hints to keep you interested in the story.
The one element of the story I do not like is the ending it’s a little rushed and I felt made the villain feel a little redundant because one character defeats the villain and the others don’t do anything really. I can understand why though because he has the link between the villain and the others don’t but I feel like the other characters felt a little redundant because of what this character did and I feel like this could have happened earlier and it wouldn’t have to go on so long. So yeah the ending wasn’t great making one character seem pretty powerful and the others redundant, also making the villain feel redundant.
For the first issue the villain is Steppenwolf and Akopolis now he isn’t explored that much as literally he kills Wonder Woman and Superman. I see the point of not going into details as that would bog down the story so that it wouldn’t progress as well and the pacing would slow down and the end result wouldn’t be as good. I really don’t have any problem with this as I know Steppenwolf will return in issue 8 and because of what Steppenwolf does you’re interested to see what happens next with him anyway.
The main villain in this series is Solomon Grundy and well like I said at the end of this volume he feels redundant and not that powerful but what really makes this all the more disappointing the ending is what Grundy does in the first 5 issues of the series where he nearly kills most of the planet. It just made the ending all the more disappointing. Grundy isn’t an interesting character anyway he just wants to kill the world and he’s not emotional but I can explain this with several reasons
1. He’s a zombie
2. He’s the avatar of the Grey
3. He’s a villain (weak reason I know but quite a lot of villains are like that)
4. He’s set on one goal to destroy the world and feels no sympathy for it
I realise these reasons may not be needed but I don’t feel for Grundy as a villain that much but he does help to get these characters together and presents a threat to them that means we see each character develop and we see their powers develop. I did like however his connection to Green Lantern as it added some tension to when they would finally meet.
Basically in each issue there is a fair amount of action but undoubtedly the best bit is the action in the first issue it probably would have been the Grundy fight but due to the ending it comes second.
What was great about this fight was how hard hitting it was everything happened quickly so on one page the trinity were fighting next page Wonder Woman is dead next page Superman is dead it happens quickly and works to the books advantage. While when Superman and Wonder Woman it’s not exactly emotional straight off when you see the aftermath then it is emotional once again it couldn’t really get bogged down with emotions as that would slow the book up. Batman’s death is emotional as he speaks with his daughter and says a final farewell. I know this may feel like a repeat of the first section of the story section but this is because this issue provides an intro to this world and a great battle sequence so yeah this issue really is very good start for the series as it gives you a lot and keeps you interested the whole way through.
I am unfamiliar with Nicola Scott’s artwork but colour me impressed already. I really really like her style it’s quite realistic but without becoming to realistic. She really shines in this volume with basically everything she does she gets to draw a lot from large battle scenes to rainforests even to location of one of the forces of the planet she handles it all very well. I have to say I think in terms of how she draws characters the ones she draws the best are Green Lantern, Flash and the Atom (this does not include the trinity but she does draw a great Wonder Woman) The flash probably is probably the best though as she shows how fast he moves and how fluid he is when he moves he really is very impressive when running and I think she handled his costume nicely as well as originally I thought it would look a bit ridiculous but she made it work very well. Green Lantern also looks fantastic especially with his constructs which look really nice but still showing that they aren’t real. The Atom looks amazing too as you can see his sheer size and strength every time he appears and the fact that he is a soldier to the end.
Alex Sinclair is a great colourist he adds a lot to Nicola Scott’s already amazing artwork his colours are very vibrant throughout the series but not becoming overly bright or flashy and he worked well with Nicola Scott throughout the book.
This really is a great read and everyone should give this series a shot as this is one of the top series of the second wave of the New 52. This volume introduces the characters very well and sets everything up very well for coming story arcs with all the hints are dropped in this series. This is not perfect though as the ending is disappointing and while there is some sense to it; it made the characters and the villain redundant apart from one. Overall definitely get this as it is worth it and I will definitely get volume 2.
I will be reviewing Batman City of owls next in the next few weeks.