Real Heroes 2 (May 2014)

Real Heroes #2

Hitch does the whole Galaxy Quest with comics beautifully, but ups it with a lot of references to the superhero movie industry. It’s a lot of fun to read–though I have no idea how it would read to someone not up on all the industry news. Hitch goes far with it. Too far? I can’t know as I get all the references.

There’s also a bit of Galaxy Quest in the plot reveal. The fake heroes are there to do a public service announcement to reconcile with the bad guys. There’s some good character moments and a couple funny parts and it all plays out well. Then Hitch implies the big villain is actually trying to make the reconciliation work.

Or maybe he doesn’t. Hopefully he does, because it’d make Real Heroes something different. It can continue to amuse with the Galaxy Quest riff. But maybe it’ll be more.



Writer and penciller, Bryan Hitch; inkers, Paul Neary and Andrew Currie; colorist, Laura Martin; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor, Drew Gill; publisher, Image Comics.

Real Heroes 1 (March 2014)

Real Heroes #1

The first issue of Real Heroes doesn’t offer much in the way of surprises. It’s Bryan Hitch doing realistic superhero disaster scenes and he’s good at those. He does a lot of photo-referencing, of course, but it fits since he’s doing Hollywood stars.

The premise is pretty simple. What if the cast of The Avengers had to go play superhero in an alternate reality. How Hitch wasn’t able to sell “Galaxy Quest with superheroes” to a major studio is beyond me. Or maybe he’s trying to establish the brand first.

Hitch doesn’t shy away from plot or character contrivances either. His cast includes the son of a 9/11 firefighter who’s obviously going to be concerned about doing the right thing and then a paraplegic actor who’ll probably get to walk again in the alternate universe.

It’s a little too real with the 9/11 stuff, but Hitch’s earnest and definitely engaged.



Writer and penciller, Bryan Hitch; inker, Paul Neary; colorist, Laura Martin; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor, Drew Gill; publisher, Image Comics.

The Ultimates 2 13 (February 2007)


More of the Hitch battle scenes. Page after page of it. But here’s all Millar wrote… Thor fights Loki, Asgardian warriors appear, Thor wins. Probably twenty pages (the issue’s double-sized) for that lame sequence.

Millar leaves a lot up in the air, like Hank Pym’s fate, and he makes Ultimate Tony smart again. The best jokes some from the guest-starring Fantastic Four, not even the regular cast. I’m trying to think of what else actually makes an impression in the comic.

Not much.

It ends with a flashback to show how cool Ultimate Steve Rogers was in the forties before he became a fascist thug. I guess it’s interesting Millar changes Ultimate Cap’s world perspective at the end of the issue and does no work in the preceding twelve issues to set him up for a change.

It’s bad writing, sure, but Ultimates 2 is pointless tripe anyway….

The Ultimates 2 12 (August 2006)


When Hitch’s art suffers this issue, I suppose it’s more understandable. He’s drawing every established Ultimate character and probably some other ones. It’s the fight to save America! From the Russians and Muslims! The whole thing plays like a rightwing wet dream.

I love when Ultimate Cap taunts the Muslim supervillain like a Bond bad guy.

The issue’s split into three fight scenes–Ultimate Cap and Muslim guy, Hulk and Abomination, Quicksilver and bad fast person. The most emphasis goes to Ultimate Cap, but the Quicksilver scene is at least witty. Millar tries it with Hulk and flops.

Then there are some Iron Man inserts, but Hitch’s robotics are so confusing, I could never even see what Ultimate Tony’s piloting. Maybe a space station.

The real question is Hank Pym. Is he really a traitor or was he always a secret agent?

It’s the only interesting thing about the comic.

The Ultimates 2 11 (July 2006)


Apparently, terrible last pages are Hitch’s new thing for Ultimates 2. His Hulk looks like he modeled it off Mr. Potato Head.

Otherwise–and Hitch totally flubs the pacing of the Hulk reveal, just terrible work adapting the cinematic moment in Millar’s script–it’s a fine, exciting issue. Sure, there’s no Thor, but Hawkeye’s kicking butt and Ultimate Steve Rogers is fighting bad guys instead of whining about not being able to oppress brown people.

Millar includes a George W. Bush cameo, which is a little odd, since it’s a pointless scene.

I’m trying to remember what else happens… I don’t think much. The biggest joke of the series might turn out to be how Millar basically only humanized Hank Pym and he’s apparently a genocidal traitor. Oh, wait, no, he’s not. He just wants his wife and all the superheroes executed.

That Millar sure does write craftily.

Eye roll.

The Ultimates 2 10 (March 2006)


Hitch’s last panel in this issue, of a fat-faced Ultimate Steve Rogers with a completely different haircut than the rest of the series really shows he doesn’t have to do anything up to par, just as long as he eventually turns in the pages.


It leaves an otherwise cool issue on a low point. Millar’s enjoying himself at least, with Hawkeye kicking ass and Ultimate Tony finally acting smart. Sure, it’s all action movie tricks in a comic, but it works. The finish–with Ultimate Cap–should be great. Hitch ruins it.

The rest of the issue is exposition about how all the bad guys secretly got together. That little Arab kid Ultimate Steve Rogers mouthed off at a few issues ago? He’s the new Captain Arab or whatever they call him. It’s an exceptionally stupid detail… Millar can’t earnestly be that cheap, can he?

Still, not bad.

The Ultimates 2 9 (January 2006)


Interesting. You have a comic about a bunch of superheroes and none of them do much super. Instead, it’s a bunch of destruction scenes featuring Hitch’s really boring giant robots.

I assume it makes sense to Millar, but probably only as a way to drag out the series some more. I thought the other all-action issues were hard to talk about, but nothing happens here. The State of Liberty gets torn down–in case you weren’t paying attention to the scene, it’s when Millar’s being really subversive. He’s so rebel.

What else… Oh, are Nick Fury and Betty what’s-her-name having an affair? It’d be kind of cute if they were I suppose, might give Fury some character. And the death of Ultimate Jarvis would be sadder if Millar hadn’t made him a misogynist sociopath.

Millar doesn’t even pretend to care about doing a good job with it.

The Ultimates 2 8 (November 2005)


The biggest surprise this issue–Millar and Hitch ruin the surprise of Ultimate Steve Rogers being the traitor (it’s not Loki messing with reality! It can’t be!) with the cover–is the “next issue” tag. Tony’s marrying Black Widow? So soon? I thought they were just dating. Millar must have skipped their romance to infer more incest between Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.

Though, to be fair to Millar, that inference needing doing, since the regular Marvel comics have been doing it for thirty years or whatever without any self-awareness.

What’s most amusing is how Ultimate Steve Rogers is at his most likable when he’s hanging out with Bucky. Millar had an actual story and he skipped it to turn Ultimate Steve into a complete dick. Why? Because it’s more sensational and less emotionally honest, which sums up his Ultimates pretty well overall.

Still, while it’s weak, it’s not terrible.

The Ultimates 2 7 (September 2005)


Oh, come on, Millar doesn’t even try to produce a fulfilling read. There’s some big action stuff with the Ultimates invading Iraq (or unnamed Middle Eastern country where Ultimate Steve Rogers mouths off at the little brown people he’s stuck helping–a nice move from Millar), there’s a conversation between Thor and Tony, Jan and Hank having coffee and Hawkeye’s family getting killed.

Nothing else. Four scenes.

The most frustrating thing about the comic is how those four scenes are, on their own, quite good. The writing is good if not great, Hitch’s art is appropriate. They just don’t add up to a comic.

Millar’s too fixated on talking down to the reader–Tony’s a dumb drunk, Ultimate Steve is a fascist, Nick Fury’s the terrorist-in-chief–he doesn’t let the comic be any fun. Those three things I mentioned are funny. He should embrace it, not soapbox it.

The Ultimates 2 6 (July 2005)


Another good issue. Of course, it gives Millar a chance to mock superhero start-ups–he recasts the Defenders as a bunch of cosplayers who decide to fight crime (it’s like Kick-Ass before Kick-Ass)–but he’s also using Hank as the protagonist.

And Millar does come up with a lot of cinematic action for Hitch to draw. No talking heads scenes, no forest fight scenes… it’s all metropolitan and it’s mean. The issue’s a rather black comedy; Millar probably should have done all of Ultimates 2 from Hank’s perspective.

However, when he gets around to teasing the leak inside the Ultimates, he seriously missteps. It’s a painfully cheap move and draws the reader back to the artificiality of the comic. As usual with Millar, he can’t tell when he’s doing good work and not just being a self-serving hack.

An unfortunate finish to an otherwise good issue.

The Ultimates 2 5 (June 2005)


How am I going to write a post about this issue? Nothing happens in it. The Ultimates beat up Thor, then Thor goes to jail, then Nick Fury decides to invade the Middle East (proving Thor right). Big cliffhanger!

The whole Ultimates concept–realistic superhero artwork–flops here because the fight scene is in the woods. Who cares about realistic forest artwork? Hitch is no Thomas Kinkade.

Then there’s the last few pages, post-fight scene. Millar teases Thor being nuts, but he can’t create any actual suspicion of it. No matter what Millar does–Hulk eating people, Giant Man beating up the Wasp, Ultimate Steve Rogers being Ronald Reagan’s wet dream–there’s no way Thor isn’t Thor. Not in a Marvel comic.

Speaking of Ultimate Captain America, I like the implication he’s more worried about foul language than he is about being used to invade sovereign states.

Crap issue.

The Ultimates 2 4 (May 2005)


So Ultimates 2 basically starts this issue. The rest was just finishing up the first series and getting rid of the Hulk. Now Millar’s on to the new story, Loki messing with stuff, and everyone too stupid to believe Thor.

I like how Hitch makes Ultimate Captain America look like a Nazi superhero on the last page. I wonder if that implication was intentional.

Sadly, it’s not a good issue. Millar’s putting in a lot of exposition and not much character work. Janet and Ultimate Rogers are a boring couple. She’s a terrible character and he’s apparently Millar’s attempt at mocking American strong men. At least I hope he’s trying to be funny. Otherwise he’s just totally unaware of himself as a writer.

There’re no big scenes this issue. Millar fills the emptiness with a bunch of lame Ultimate introductions; his dialogue is also weak. There’s nothing interesting going on….

The Ultimates 2 3 (April 2005)

“The Trial of the Incredible Hulk” isn’t much of a trial; having Ultimate Matt Murdock as Bruce’s defense lawyer feels forced too. But the issue’s solid.

Millar continues to sympathize with strange characters–wife-beater Hank Pym, for example–and demonize the good guys. Nothing with Ultimate Rogers this issue but Ultimate Nick Fury’s a big jerk and Ultimate Tony Stark’s just a drunken twit.

The finale, after an overlong funeral sequence, works out. For the first time on the series, Millar shows some sentimentality and actual engagement with the story. It doesn’t feel like hyperbole, it finally feels like sublime blockbuster storytelling. It’s actually a problem, because it shows what tone he should be going for with Ultimates and almost never attempts, much less attains.

There aren’t even any subplots working. It’s just a good issue, a couple bad moves aside.

Though Hitch’s art is still boring as dirt.

The Ultimates 2 2 (March 2005)

This issue’s a lot better than the first, though it takes a while to get used to Hitch. His composition choices don’t make any sense until one remembers there are rabid Hitch fans out there.

It’s a relatively quiet issue. There’s no big action scene and I think Iron Man’s the only one in costume. That little side adventure is just to introduce Ultimate Excalibur; something for the speculators perhaps.

Rogers accuses Thor of leaking a secret, Thor wonders why Rogers is dismissive of Asgard–there’s some subtext Millar doesn’t exploit enough about “real world” churchgoing. Even if people believe it, people don’t believe it will interact. Instead, he closes on Thor’s line, not Rogers’s reaction.

Wait, never mind. I keep forgetting Ultimate Steve Rogers is an idiot.

Millar’s handling of the scenes, the dialogue and the pacing, is quite good.

Reading it almost feels like a worthwhile time investment.

The Ultimates 2 1 (February 2005)


I wonder if Mark Millar intentionally paced this issue to finally get interesting a page or two before the finish. Seriously… I was just getting comfortable in my chair reading it and then the issue’s over.

Most of the issue is spent with Captain America, sorry, Ultimate Captain America–the difference being this Steve Rogers is a complete moron who probably tortures people when no one’s looking. Millar’s attempt to show him as an old timer has some problems… especially when it comes to the gossip. He’s upset people are gossiping about him and the Wasp. Because no one would have done such a thing in the thirties or forties? Clearly Steve Rogers was illiterate in the Ultimate Universe.

As usual, the only interesting stuff is with Thor. Millar’s attempt at convincing the reader Thor might be crazy fails.

And Bryan Hitch does his realism thing again. Whoop–de–do.

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