By Veshark 13 Comments
Ultimate Fight Night #1
Welcome, ladies and Viners, to the very first installment of Ultimate Fight Night!
The gist: RisingBean and myself (Veshark) are both huge fans of the Ultimate Marvel Universe. This alternate-world has given comicdom some of the finest stories and best modern incarnations of the classic Marvel world - and some of the greatest battles ever put onto the comic page.
In each installment, @risingbean and I will be discussing a classic fight from an Ultimate book. We'll cover the battle itself, the characters involved, whether there was PIS and CIS - and basically get into an in-depth exchange on some of our favorite Ultimate fights.
We hope these posts will generate interest in the Ultimate U - especially since it seems like this fantastic alternate world will soon be having its curtain call. Hopefully, our discussions will motivate some of you Viners out there to pick up these great titles, or maybe just be entertain you enough to read our thoughts and enjoy the scans.
As always, comments and feedback are always appreciated! So without further ado...let's get to the battle...
Ultimates vs. The Hulk (Ultimates #5)
Written by Mark Millar
Art by Bryan Hitch, Andrew Currie, & Paul Mounts
Veshark (VS): To start off: let's look at a little background first for all you readers out there who haven't got around to reading Millar's Ultimates (And if you haven't, shame on you. Now go stand in that corner and think about what you haven't done).
At this point in time, the Ultimates have just been formed as the United States' superhuman defense force. After Magneto attacked the White House and with the emergence of Spider-Man and his villains, the U.S. felt that they needed their own super-soldiers to protect the home of the brave. So, Black Nick Fury went around to recruit a new superteam, and he got:
- Captain America, WWII super-soldier recently-resurrected from a deep freeze
- Iron Man, genius who invented a power armor, but has a fatal tumor
- Giant-Man, giant douche and wife-beater
- Wasp, tiny Asian chick
- Bruce Banner, nerd whose sole purpose is to unlock the Serum from Cap's blood and make more Super-Soldiers
The team opened to an eventful public gala, and even got a spanking new island as their headquarters. But the problem was...the Ultimates didn't have anyone to fight. At this point in time, superhumans were still a relatively new phenomenon in the Ultimate world, and Magneto alone was the only notable 'supervillain' in its history. It seemed like the new team didn't have a purpose.
Until Bruce Banner decided to inject himself with a mix of the Hulk serum and Cap's blood.
Yeap. That's exactly what he did. Why? Because everyone was making fun of him, his girlfriend Betty was having dinner with actor Freddie Prinze Jr (yeah, I don't remember him either), and he constantly failed at cracking the Super-Soldier Serum. In short, Banner was an absolute and insecure failure, and in an attempt to give the Ultimates 'someone media-worthy to fight', he became....the Hulk!
And so, the Ultimates were mobilized for the first time to stop the Hulk - who was rampaging across Manhattan - and the first battle of this world's version of the Avengers was about to begin...
RisingBean (RB): Alright, Veshark set the table with the facts and I'll add my two coppers.
The Hulk has been tearing apart Manhattan for roughly ten minutes and it looks much like Washington D.C. via Fallout 3. Hulk has killed a bunch of folks, killed a fat man for his pants and quenched his thirst en route to killing Freddy Prinze Jr. and Betty by drinking a truck full of beer. The point is this isn't your usual jolly green giant of the standard Marvel Universe. This is the dark repressed side of Banner unleashed.
How are a guy draped in a flag, a guy who can grow, a gal who can shrink and a dude in an awesome set of futuristic armor ever gonna beat this guy? Funny you should ask, true believer. We're here to tell you:
RB: First up, Giant-Man:
VS: To start this off, I just want to take note of that beautiful first page. It's a great, loud, orchestral note to start an epic battle with, and Hitch draws the scene spectacularly. Right off the bat: when you see that fleet of copters swarm in, carrying Giant-Man over the burning borough of Manhattan...man, I immediately feel like I'm in the action sequence of a summer blockbuster.
VS: But the point that I feel this page really nails home is this: It feels real. A running theme in Millar's Ultimates run is to reimagine superheroes as though they were in the 'real-world'. They would be deputized by the state, they would wear tactical gear, and Giant-Man would enter the battlefield being carried in by a formation of helicopters.
If this was any other superhero book, we'd have the Ultimates swooping in by supersonic jet and probably jumping out guns-blazing. Giant-Man would likely have turned into full-size in the middle of a fight.
But Millar and Hitch firmly establish the tone of the book by having Giant-Man slowly flown in by helicopters, after having grown to full-size and slipping into his 60-foot long costume. Even in the next page, we have the rest of the team arriving into the battle by helicopters with conventional military support.
It's a really subtle decision, but it's also one of my favorite things about the Ultimates. When you see these superheroes entering the theater of combat like this...with the troops and logistics...you really buy into the illusion and idea of super-soldiers. It really makes you believe and think, "Yeah, this is how I could see it happening if superheroes did exist in our world'.
RB: Indeed. One of the things I really like about the Ultimate Universe is that superheroes are not just autonomous entities that exist without any connection to the real world. Fury knows who Spider-Man is, the X-Men at one point were under the umbrella of S.H.I.E.L.D., and the government reacts much like they would in the real world.
VS: Definitely - I loved the early days of the UU when every title was interconnected with one another in little ways. It was like the 616-verse without all the muddled years of continuity, and it felt fresh and accessible. And yeah, the government was always watching over the super-people. What do we want? ACCOUNTABILITY! When do we want it? NOW!
RB: Hitch definitely makes this read like a top tier summer blockbuster. He rocks pretty hard in making this feel so big. And speaking of big, Giant-Man is the first to face the grey skinned Hulk. Sadly he tried to subdue him against the wall of a skyscraper. The Hulk overpowers him and threatens to tear his head off. It really looked like he could do it too. Thankfully, Iron Man was there to save him with a flying tackle into Grand Central Station.
VS: Oh Hank Pym, you're such a tool. It's not enough that you're a wife-beater, but do you really have to suck at being a superhero too? You get your butt handed to you by the Hulk in one page here, and later on in the next arc, you get whipped by Cap. Sigh. Either way, yeah, Hank Pym gets downright embarrassed here, and it's partly because of his defeat here that he gets physical with the Wasp in the next issue.
But Tony steps in to save the day. Damn, I love the Ultimate Iron Man armor. I used to think it was an eyesore, but after a while I realized - that was the whole point. The suit was supposed to look clunky and functional - the Ultimates was supposed to be a 'realer take'. It even has less reds-and-yellows, and more grey, making it look like a military craft.
VS: I wonder if Hitch's design was responsible for inspiring the newer, more 'practical' designs of 616 Iron Man. In the past, 616 Tony's armors always looked like superhero outfits, but after the Ultimates came out, his suits began looking more like actual armor, starting with the Secretary of State one.
But yeah, Iron Man slams the Hulk into Grand Central, but he is hopelessly out-muscled. Hulk nearly kills him (threatening to eat him, actually), but Tony hits him with powerful thought-scramblers that stun him for a while.
RB: Hey, Veshark, let's not be so hard on Pym. Up to this point he wasn't beating much of anything. Certainly not the Hulk. As per Iron Man and design: You and I know that the Ultimate U. has had far and reaching sway with other aspects of Marvel. Hell, the MCU is almost the Ultimate U. on film.
So Hulk nearly gets blasted out of the city after the Hulk threatens to eat him. I like this sequence because Stark goes on to complain about how the silos jammed and his launch was behind schedule. Much like the real military: any warfighter surrounds himself with other tech folks, Iron Man doesn't just kick on a suit and fly off. He needs help to get strapped in.
I also like the effects of Tony's sonic thought-scramblers and Hitch draws a beautiful Grand Central. What I don't like about this sequence is Tony is having his head palmed like a basketball at one point, after the Hulk tears off his armor's helmet like cardboard, and yet he lives. It broke my suspension of disbelief to a degree.
VS: Ha, true enough.
Regarding Tony's head getting palmed by the Hulk (that sounds kinky) - I think it was more of a case of the Hulk 'threatening before killing' so to speak. He could just be gripping Tony's head lightly, and the Hulk mentions eating him, so it could be just to see his reaction. Whatever the case, it makes for good dramatic tension.
Anyway, with his power reserves down, Tony packs one final punch and sends the Hulk flying onto Manhattan's streets again. At which point one of the funniest sequences of the series occurs when Wasp lures the Hulk...by using her 'assets'. I always love it when Millar pulls stuff like this - this is the kind of almost-stupid-yet-hilarious moments you get in summer movies.
RB: Hooboy. The Hulk looks like a drooling college frat boy when the Wasp titillates him with her goods.
VS: We are very punny individuals indeed, Bean.
RB: Distracted from pursuing Betty and Freddie Prinze Jr., Wasp is able to lead the Hulk into the ambush Captain America has set up. It's not quite Wile E. Coyote and a boulder, but it makes me chuckle nonetheless.
VS: Basically, Ultimate Cap's idea of an ambush is to drop a tank on the Hulk.
VS: ...And finally, the MVP of the Ultimates steps into the battle! Only Cap would think that dropping an armored vehicle on the Hulk is a reasonable tactic. See, this is the kinda stuff you don't get to see in the Avengers. Now - if what a childhood of FPS games have told me is true - this appears to be a M2 Bradley. It's interesting to note that Hank Pym actually mentions this vehicle two issues ago when he said that he designed a 'Captain America tank'.
RB: The tank does seem to be a "modified" Brad, or as we used to call them, a "baby tank." The fact is, this one has been gutted and modified to allow Cap to ride alone instead of utilizing a crew. Too bad he breaks it here, because soon Pym will be booted from the team (in a most spectacular fashion, mind you) and Cap never gets to use one again. It goes to show that you should take care of your toys.
VS: Ladies and gentlemen, our military advisor: The Bean.
RB: The next page is what brought me back into comics after a hiatus. Captain America unloading on the Hulk, and kicking him in the stones. If you tell me that isn't awesome, I'll tell you that you don't like comics. This is definitely my favorite exchange of the fight. A guy with a discus vs a raging behemoth. Cap dropped the Hulk for a moment, and this would have ended it if plot didn't demand more excitement!
VS: Now I know a lot of people b!tch and moan about this sequence - ooh it's PIS, ooh Cap shouldn't be able to hurt Hulk, but you know what? This beautifully-choreographed sequence right here? This is the start of Ultimate Cap's awesome track record. Seeing Cap absolutely blitz the Hulk; even kicking him in the balls - this is the first time we've ever seen Cap in action. There are plenty of moments throughout the UU's history that show Cap absolutely dominating superior opponents, but this is where they all began.
This is the start of Ultimate Captain America's reputation as a badass.
Now, Cap has dropped the Hulk, and is about to stick the Hulk antidote in him when....surprise surprise, Hulk gets back up! I still maintain that Cap could've stopped the Hulk right there-and-then had he not yapped so much, but eh. This is what makes a good battle: just when you think the fight is coming to a close, the writer throws in another curveball.
In this case, the curveball is the Hulk crushing the antidote needle and preparing to eat Cap...until a flash of lightning appears from the sky - tossing the monster aside and saving Rogers.
RB: Now we get to move onto the classic match up of Hulk vs Thor!
VS: Finally, Ultimate Thor joins the battle in spectacular fashion when he puts Mjolnir down right onto the Hulk's face. Now at this point in time - Thor is not a member of the Ultimates yet. In fact, he views them as being government stooges of the military-industrial complex.
At the battle's start, Thor said that he would only join this fight if the President doubled the international aid budget (which sounds kinda dickish and counterproductive to saving lives but eh); and POTUS eventually does, so Thor has come to save the day. Well, somewhat. He hammers Hulk multiple times (not what I meant), creating multiple shockwaves and breaking several bones, but Hulk is completely unperturbed and recovers quickly.
RB: Veshark, I agree that Thor is a jerk to put innocents at risk before he will lift a finger to help, but it adds a layer of characterization. Thor is political and he isn't just a guard dog. He's a bad mofo with a big hammer who isn't looking to just beat up bad guys. He wants to better the world on a whole.
Thor was hitting the Hulk so hard he was overturning cars with the impacts and turning the ground to rubble. What this shows is that Thor is a powerhouse, but Hulk is just something else. I'd say he is raw destruction given form and structure. He simply fights through, batting Thor aside.
Hulk then moves onto batting around Iron Man and Cap again as he looks for Betty. Currently she is being flown out to sea by helicopter, so tactical nukes can be brought into play if they have to be. Of course that is only if the other three plans Captain America is setting up don't pan out.
VS: Very true. Thor is probably the most radical revamp of any of the Ultimates. While the rest of the team share the same relative concepts as their 616 counterparts, Thor is a very different character here. He speaks in casual English (pre-Loeb at least), hangs with a bunch of New Age followers, and is an activist and campaigner. He's still Asgardian of course, but it's definitely a more modern take on the character, and one that works very well.
RB: Also it may be worth noting at this time that Thor was being shown to possibly be a fraud. There were people thinking he had a tech hammer or was a mutant. He definitely was stated to have had a nervous breakdown and spent time in a psyche ward, so radical revamp, indeed.
VS: After thrashing on Tony and Cap, Hulk starts chasing after the helicopter that Betty is in. Cap has used the helicopter as bait, and the Hulk latches on to the helicopter, screaming for Betty to not leave him. But luckily, tactical genius mastermind Captain America has prepared for this scenario, and has cooked up a winning plan involving the Wasp:
VS: Little Jan has covertly planted into the Hulk's brain and stings the one part of the monster that is still human. One thing to note about Millar: is it just me, or do you notice that whenever he writes the entire team vs. one menace, it always ends with one hero putting the final move. The Thor battle in Ultimates 2 springs to mind, as it was Quicksilver that saved the day in the end.
RB: As for the final move, it may just be you. Somebody has to get the final hit in. Now the Hulk is down and Banner is sitting in a crater. Captain America is first on scene. And he closes out the battle with a bit of dialogue and a boot to the face. Banner never had a chance.
So there you go, true believers. The Ultimates vs. the Hulk.
VS: Ultimates-1. Hulk-0.
RB: Alright Veshark, what shall we talk about first? The art? The characters and what could have occurred in slightly different circumstances? PIS? The fact Hulk wanted to use Giant Man's head for a toilet bowl? I'm sure that last one may leave a bad taste in our viewers mouths, though. Not as bad as in Hank Pym's, but moving on...
VS: Hah. Well why don't we cover the art first, then maybe the premise and dialogue, and then we'll rundown one character after the other and nominate a MVP for the match.
Being a huge Hitch fan, I've reread and studied these pages a lot. Hitch may have drawn more spectacular and epic-in-scope battles with the later story arcs, but I've always thought that this was his most aesthetically-impressive fight. A big reason for that are the inks. Now I know inkers don't usually get a lot of shine; so I'm taking note of this: The first six issues of Ultimates have the best inking of the entire book. Andrew Currie gives smooth, clean lines and deep blacks for the entire Hulk battle.
If you look at the later issues, where the inks are done by Paul Neary, they look a little sketchier and rougher, at times even looking rushed and messy. But Currie's inks in this battle are just superb. Every line feels necessary and well thought-out, the figures are fully-formed. I always felt that Currie's smoother inks fit Hitch's hyper-detailed art a lot better.
RB: And I won't argue with any of that!
I'm not going to add on the art other then say a grey Hulk is a scary Hulk.
As per the premise, it works if you don't mind the Hulk being a bad guy. Banner got stomped on emotionally to a point where he was pretty much committing suicide by superhero. He let out his inner beast knowing going through with it was a bad and stupid idea, and boy was it. Over 800 deaths are attributed to his rampage. The Ultimates didn't have much choice but to put him down.
If there is a problem with the premise it's that this moral ambiguity is glossed over. Rather then feeling bad for having to fight Banner he is condemned and nobody on the team has an issue trying to take him out. I still feel that a truer reaction is that of sadness though, because this guy was once a part of the team. Of course the Ultimates are known to be jerks and Banner did just kill a crap ton of people so there is that.
VS: "Committing suicide by superhero" (or villain as the case may be) is actually a really astute way of putting it, RB.
I'm gonna have to disagree about the moral ambiguity though. I really don't see any of that here. I get that Bruce constantly fails in cracking the Serum, he's made fun of by the entire team, and his girlfriend's a total b-word. But none of that is an excuse or gives any right for him to Hulk out and intentionally choose to put civilians at risk. He should be rightly condemned - Ultimate Banner really is just a terrible guy.
And I don't think there should necessarily be any sadness on the team's part. Remember, these guys have only been together for several weeks. They're not friends like the Teen Titans, or family like the X-Men or FF. They haven't even fought side-by-side and formed a battlefield bond like the Justice League. These are guys who are - at best - co-workers in a federal department. And when one of them essentially goes homicidal, not only threatening the Ultimates' entire reputation but all of Manhattan - I'd imagine they'd be pissed.
RB: Banner is a villain in the sense he is self-absorbed and selfish. It was all about his pain, his loss, his failures. But I think he failed to realize just how much his choices rippled. I won't say what he did is OK, but what I will say is that it is a shame it ever got to that point.
As per the time frame, it's actually months. There is a panel showing just how boring it got waiting for the next threat big enough to warrant the team. Although I do agree with the rest of your assessment, Veshark. I just happen to think that the team could have asked "What if I had been nicer to Banner?" It would have not been out of place and it would have upped the emotional stakes because now the heroes are caught in this no-win situation. It would have added a wrinkle.
VS: Fair enough, I can see it being somewhat tragic that it escalated to this point. Banner still sucks, but I see where you're coming from.
Ah yeah, good catch. I got thrown off by a caption that read 'Weeks Later', I forgot that an earlier issue mentions that the team's been formed for about a month prior. I still don't think that any of the heroes would be even regretful though. I'm just trying to put myself in their position: I think Bruce crossed any line of sympathy when he Hulked out. It's sort of like: yeah, you know, maybe if we weren't such d*cks, this wouldn't have happened. But at the same time...it was still Banner's own conscious decision to go Hulk, I don't think the blame can be put on anyone else.
In fairness, Millar does have Betty being somewhat regretful in the next issue. Though this being Betty, it doesn't exactly last long.
RB: Betty. I don't have the words to describe her. What kind of world do we live in where J.Jonah Jameson is a better person morally then Betty Ross? Alas another topic for another thread.
Dialogue. I think that the low point for me was Fury saying "Repeat" over a radio. ARRRRRGHHHH! That is a big no-no. Bad juju. It's not "Repeat" it's "Say again" and that is a big pet peeve of mine. Rant over.
I liked Stark talking about the blondes flashing before his eyes and the Cap/Banner talk of the "gash on his cheek" but the dialogue didn't have too much magic in it for me. It wasn't memorable. But that is ok because the visuals were more then enough to wow me over.
VS: Yeah, Betty Ross is pretty unlikeable. But speaking of dialogue, I liked the bit where Hulk talks about how much he wants to tap Betty. "Hulk hornier than a..." and then he gets covered by Hank Pym, who goes "Oh for God's sake, shut up, Banner. You're giving science a bad name". That was a pretty funny one-liner. Though you're right, the dialogue is largely just perfunctory for the most part.
VS: Let's move on to each individual character - and let's start off with the Hulk, since he's the starring attraction so to speak.
I'm really glad that they went with a grey look for the Hulk here. It really fits in with the 'realer' take of the Ultimates, and a bright-green Hulk would be too jarring I feel. Ultimate Hulk is essentially the manifestation of everything dark and ugly about Bruce - unlike Savage Hulk or even Joe Fixit, both of whom are at least semi-heroic - this Hulk is just a horny, cannibalistic turd.
But this fight really establishes the Hulk as a credible threat for the Ultimates - and it really shows why it would take an entire team of superheroes just to put Hulk down. No one can physically stop him - not Giant-Man, not Iron Man, not Cap - hell, not even Thor. The sheer power that he shows here justifies why Cap decides to use Hulk as a weapon of last-resort in the next arc. And the team only beats the Hulk by outsmarting him, not through brute force.
RB: I am in agreement here. the dark grey tone screams monster. And while the Hulk is a terrible person (or aspect thereof) let's not judge him too harshly. He is the id that just wants sex, violence and pleasure. Luckily most of us build ourselves up past that. The Hulk is a beast. We don't blame a bear for acting as such, though we may have to drop them when they go too far.
VS: True enough; can't deny your argument when you start using Freudian psychology! Now let's discuss the Hulk's Oedipal complex and how Betty represents his surrogate mother...
Kidding kidding. Brrr, that's a train of thought you don't wanna ride down.
RB: I am in agreement that the Hulk is a strong threat too. He is a teambuster and deserves to be. At the end of the day the Hulk definitely was the strongest there is.
Moving onto Captain America. This guy isn't the happy look-for-the-best-in-you 616 version. Nope, this is your grampa who fought in the war, prejudices and all. I know he gets a ton of flak for that and many pass him off as a jerk. He is definitely a man of his time. It is just that his time was over ages ago. Personally I like this guy. He's a hard head, but he'll do what he feels is right and stands up for what he believes in. And best of all?
He'll kick the Hulk in the stones.
VS: Yeah, he's just a complete badass in every appearance. 616 Cap represents the American Dream - the best of the land of the free. He's an icon. Ultimate Cap? He's just a soldier wearing a uniform with a killer hook.
I know everyone likes to label Cap as some unlikeable jerk, but honestly, you have to see that everything he does is motivated by good intentions. When he beats up Hank Pym? Sure it was a stupid and careless way to handle the problem, but one can't deny that he only did it because of the rage he felt when he saw Jan in the hospital. And later on, Cap even apologizes to Jan for interfering with their marriage. The racial thing is a little more justified - he does seem to hate Germans and the French - but to his credit, Cap has no problem with Americans of any ethnicity (Nick Fury, Wasp etc.). So points for selective prejudice!
But what did you think of Ultimate Cap's performance in this battle? I'd say his was the most entertaining - arguably the most effective. He actually put the Hulk on his butt, semi-unconscious, and was ready to stick the needle in. And while Wasp was responsible for defeating Hulk, it was technically Cap who came up with the strategy, plus he had the idea of using Betty as bait.
RB: Whoa whoa whoa! Cap beating up Hank Pym wasn't stupid or careless. It wasn't legal, but I for one say it was the right thing to do. Heroes stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves. But that is a fight to discuss another day.
As for his battle with the Hulk? It was the coolest sequence, but hardly the most effective. Thor actually did a lot of damage if he wasn't just hyping himself up. As he seemed to show some mild psychic abilities in a conversation with Banner at one point earlier in the series, I don't think it was hyperbole personally. So broken ribs and a punctured lung via dropping a hammer trump Cap's damage.
But I would be lying if I didn't say that Cap was more fun to watch. I'm not joking when I say that sequence is what led me back to comics after some time out.
VS: You won't have any disagreement from me there: if I was in Cap's position, I would've done the exact same thing. I thought Ultimate Cap did the right thing too. But I meant careless in the sense that...well, it didn't seem like the most sensible or level-headed approach. I don't want to get into a tangential discussion about domestic violence but...eh, just my two cents.
Well remember, like I said, I'm also counting Cap's strategic input. Fair enough that Thor did indeed do more raw damage (though they both temporarily stunned Hulk), but from an overall perspective, I don't think he was the most effective participant of the battle. Cap managed to not only stun Hulk single-handedly and nearly neutralized him with the antidote - but was also responsible for the finishing strategy that won the battle. I'd say Cap contributed the most to their victory (Favoritism? What is this favoritism you speak of?).
RB: Don't sweat it, Veshark. We'll have a whole conversation on it when we discuss Cap and Giant Man.
In that case, I agree with you. Cap had a hand in the fight from beginning to end, using the other members as proxies. Only Thor was not in the plan, and his role was only a small part.
So anybody else that we should mention, Veshark?
VS: Why don't we end this section with Iron Man - just to round off the Big Three in the Ultimates. Thoughts on Tony's performance here?
RB: Tony has a bunch of great advantages that are leveled out by his equally great disadvantages. He is the most durable of the group outside of Thor, and yet he may as well be made of cardboard so far as ol' Hulk is concerned. He has versatility and energy output and the ability of flight. Then again he has no combat skills and is a functioning alcoholic.
VS: Liquor makes everything better. Even fights with failed Super-Soldier experiments. *cheers*
But it should be noted that this is an older version of the Iron Tech armor. Tony mentions the suit has problems like its sights, and the power drops to 25% after just a brief tangle with the Hulk. Tony even mentions in the next arc that this suit has let him down a number of times. So while this armor isn't as effective as the Ultimates 2 one; to it's credit - it still puts up a great performance for its first combat engagement. And as you mentioned, he did save Giant-Man.
Interesting side note: I like that one panel where Tony' ground crew services his suit after his first brush with the Hulk - Hitch added in one of the crewmen holding what appears to be a canister full of green liquid. It's the same slush that fills the inside of the armor, supposedly as a shock-absorbant fluid. Interesting little detail that again, adds to the 'real-world' feel of the book.
RB: I took the sights as an issue from the combat. As in getting knocked around tossed off the alignment from his blasters to his optics. As for the power drop, he had probably lost power with the Hulk tearing his armor up like an angry nun tearing up a Playboy magazine. The final shot that knocked the Hulk back a few blocks was impressive too. If I had some advice for Tony it's don't bring out your tinker toys when you have better stuff in the garage.
VS: Mm indeed, the impact might've thrown off the sights, hopefully Tony's cushioned whatever targeting systems he has in the future. As for the power drop - I don't know, the Hulk only tore off his helmet - I don't think there's really any reasoning beyond the armor being new and having some energy kinks. Though I think we can safely conclude that Stark's fixed the power problems by the next arc - considering the Iron Tech armor is able to not only shield the Ultimates from a h-bomb, but still have enough power to push aside a giant Chitauri craft.
RB: Oh by the next arc, Tony is a definite heavy hitter. He is arguably the toughest Ultimate in that arc.
He definitely saved Hank Pym's life so we need to give him a big nod there. He also was one of only three members of the team to give Hulk any real struggle. Do you find it amusing that the other two are Cap and Thor, The Avengers Trinity?
VS: Well I'd say everyone on the Ultimates put up a good fight against Hulk...save for Pym. Cap dropped a tank on him. Iron Man punched him into Grand Central. Thor broke his bones. And Wasp delivered the coup de grace. Hank made a witty quote and then proceeded to destroy an entire building when he fell. I'll say it again: you stink, Hank.
Let's step on to discussing about any possible PIS or CIS. Do you think there were any questionable sequences that you felt were only there to service the plot or a particular character? I actually think this Hulk fight is one of those rare battles where I can't find much fault with it - solely because Millar was responsible for creating these characters, and this is their first battle. In a way, this fight set the standard for everything that followed.
RB: As far as PIS is concerned, Veshark, I found little of it myself. The two exceptions is that Cap arguably could have jabbed the Hulk with the needle in the time it took to say as much as was put into his text block. I assume he was probably getting the needle set, as this is a medium where you need to imagine motion, so it doesn't bother me too much. But I am sure some will feel that Cap should have ended it there. The second bit was the Stark head-palming incident. But I am glad Stark lived so I won't whine about it.
I agree with you that this battle set a great standard for the Ultimates. It also raised a bar in the rest of comics as a whole. The Ultimate Universe was nothing if not trendsetting.
Alright Veshark, tell the true believers reading this who had the best dialogue and what the best fight sequence was. Hell, you may as well throw in your MVP for fighter of the night.
VS: Well, RB, let's break down our favorite moments:
Best Dialogue: I can't really say that any one character stood out - they all had one or two good lines sure, but nobody was consistently entertaining. If I had to nominate a character, I'd probably give it to Ultimate Hulk. Yeah, his dialogue was silly as hell, but at least it was funny in a morbid sort of way. "Hulk hornier than a..."
Best Dialogue: Hm. I can't say I agree with your choice in dialogue. It was a bit creepy to me, even if that was the intent. I personally have two. I liked when Hulk threatened to use Pym's skull as a toilet and I liked the bit between Cap and Banner about the gash in Banner's cheek.
Best Fight Sequence: I don't think it'll surprise anyone when I say that Ultimate Captain America's sequence was the best of the team. Right from the get-go, it starts with a bang as Cap just drops a freaking tank on the Hulk. This is the type of summer-action vibe that Millar excels at. And the second page that follows has some of the best sequential work that Hitch has ever done on the title - absolutely marvelous storytelling. Four panels of zero dialogue - with Cap just brutalizing the Hulk from every angle - and in the fifth panel Fury goes "You just take down the Hulk?". Perfect moment right there.
Best Fight Sequence: I think it's safe that you knew I would agree with you here. I don't have anything to add so I'll just repeat Cap kicked Hulk in the junk! That never gets old.
MVP: Oh, now you're probably guessing that I'm gonna give the nod to Steve Rogers again, yes? Sadly - and I don't think this is even debatable - I've gotta nominate the Hulk for this. Now I don't know if we're talking MVP of the Ultimates...or just MVP of the entire battle, but either way, heavy props to Ultimate Hulk. He absolutely dominates in the entire match - taking down Giant-Man, shrugging off hits from Iron Man and Thor...he might have even killed Cap if not for the timely intervention of Thor. The Ultimates felt like they were going up against a force of nature here, and so I'm gonna crown Hulk as the MVP of this awesome battle.
MVP: I agree on many levels with you on this. Hulk took on the team and didn't do badly at all. He definitely isn't a guy I can argue doesn't deserve your favor. However my nod is for Captain America. He was arguably the most important here with planning and was involved in the battle on multiple levels. He also had the distinction of being the winner here:
RB: All in all I'd rate this battle a 4/5. It's damn good and one of my favorites. You really can't go wrong with monsters tearing up major cities.
VS: 4 out of 5 is a fair number, I think I'd give the same rating as well. The thing about this battle is that I don't necessarily find anything wrong about it, but it lacks that certain je ne sais quoi to stand out, though it's still a fantastic fight. I'd even venture to say that this is my favorite Ultimate U battle - simply because of how concise and well-choreographed it is.
As each Ultimate has their turn against the Hulk, the battle just transitions very well from one sequence to the next. There are plenty of blockbuster moments, and even the occasional witty line of dialogue. Millar is at the top of his game here in crafting an entertaining and epic brawl that lasts an entire issue, and Hitch is also at his best form in the art department. This one battle perfectly set the mark for the widescreen tone that the Ultimates goes for.
So we've looked at the battle's story and choreography, we've addressed the art, looked at each participant of the fight, debated the battle's good and bad points. Do you have anything else to add before we close this off, RB?
RB: I have nothing to add except that it's been a pleasure getting to speak on this fine battle. I hope we get some people interested in the old Ultimate Universe. It's been a (mostly) fun ride.
Also CV'er's, don't hesitate to toss in your two cents.
VS: Absolutely. I genuinely feel like those that haven't read the Ultimate U are missing out - the earliest days of this universe are still some of the freshest and most-entertaining takes on Marvel characters. The Ultimate experiment will always be the best parallel-universe in comics.
For those of you who might be interested, you can find this awesome battle in trade with The Ultimates Vol. 1 Super Human, which collects The Ultimates #1-6. Alternatively, you can also get Ultimates: Ultimate Collection - which collects all thirteen issues of the first series.
As always, pleasure discussing men-and-women-in-tights with you, RB, this is Veshark signing off.
RB: And this is Rising Bean saying Shop Smart, Shop S-Mart.
Until next time true believers! Oh, and the first ten Viners to respond in the comments section get no-prizes!