The Ultimates 2, Vol. 1: Gods and Monsters – A Graphic Novel Review

Basically an updated version of Marvel Comic’s classic Avengers lineup, The Ultimates is the closest comic book out there to a big budget action movie. The art is hands down astronomical. Bryan Hitch can draw anything and make it look both dynamic and realistic at the same moment. And Mark Millar (whom is often hit or miss for me) writes snappy dialogue that really sets the characters apart from one another. While his overall plots are nothing terribly original, his new takes on classic characters like Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and the Hulk have been tremendously entertaining. We now have heroes in very much the twenty-first century, with all the neurosis, greed, naiveté, and self-doubt that comes with being a denizen of the modern day.

As I said, the overall plots are predictable, but it’s the subplots where the genius rests. Each character has their own story, and it’s those personal stories and interactions that prove captivating. However, when it’s time for the big action of the overall plot’s climax, strap yourself in. That’s where Bryan Hitch saves the day with his art and Mark Millar makes it fun with his dialogue.

If you want to experience super hero comics at their <ahem!> ultimate in terms of action and art, the Ultimates is what you’re looking for.

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The Incredible Hulk – A Movie Review

If you’ve ever been a fan of the Hulk, hardcore or otherwise, go see The Incredible Hulk.  You’ll be glad you did. 

This version of the Hulk is not the psychoanalytical drama of Ang Lee from a few years ago (which, while a little boring, didn’t particularly bother me).  No, this Hulk is directed by the guy who brought us Transporter 2, so he knows a little something about high-octane action.  And action it had!  They spend the first three minutes brilliantly recapping how Bruce Banner became the Hulk, why General Ross is after him, and how he hurt and abandoned the woman he loves.  From that moment on, it picks up five years later and races to the finish!

However, while this is most certainly an action flick, Edward Norton as Bruce Banner brings a certain amount of credibility to the film that might have been lacking without his involvement.  He delivered a depth to Bruce Banner that was expertly understated, but there nonetheless.  Honestly, when I heard they were making another Hulk movie, I thought, “Too soon.”  But when I heard Norton was in the lead, I said to myself, “This will work.”  I’ve always respected Norton’s artistic integrity and even with a comic book movie he does not rest on his laurels. 

Liv Tyler as Betty Ross, Banner’s love interest and daughter to General Ross, delivered a good performance and I felt as though she and Norton had real chemistry.  I really believed she and Norton’s characters had a history and wanted a future together.

Jettisoning all remnants of Ang Lee’s Hulk, The Incredible Hulk surprised me by its tight plot.  Though straightforward in nature, all portions of the film actually worked to progress the storyline and/or characterization.  I especially appreciated that the character who eventually becomes Hulk’s nemesis, The Abomination, slowly worked up a grudge against the Hulk and went through a slow process over the duration of the film to become a powerhouse himself.  Too often in movies a villain shows up out of nowhere with little explanation or logic.  Such is not the case with The Incredible Hulk.

They made sure to pay homage to all Hulk’s history that came before, too.  You’ll see familiar scenes and hear theme music from the old seventies show, notice the original Hulk actor himself, catch a scene with Stan Lee, and get some classic lines from the comic books.  And, if you’ve seen the commercials, a certain “Iron Man” appears as well, laying the foundation for the future.

Finally, this Hulk actually looked real.  They did such a great job of blending him in with the live action.  There were times I forgot I was watching a CGI creation with all the rippling muscles and realistic movement.  And move this Hulk did!  We finally get to see the berserker Hulk we’ve all waited for!  He’s on the rampage, tearing things apart, and it’s a blast to watch!

In summation, The Incredible Hulk is an all-out, fast-paced action movie that took special care to deliver a tight story with logical progression, rounded characterization, and very good acting.  But even with all these wonderful attributes, they delivered the most important aspect-they gave us a Hulk who relished smashing stuff up.

I’ll say it again, if you consider yourself a fan of the Hulk at all, go see The Incredible Hulk.