Waiting For The Trade – Ultimate New Ultimates: Thor Reborn (Panini Edition)

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciller: Frank Cho
Inker: Frank Cho
Colourists: Brad Anderson, Jason Keith, Matt Milla
Letterer: Albert W. Deschesne, Richard Starkings

Collects: Ultimate New Ultimates #1-5

I dropped out of the Ultimate universe just before Ultimatum, not through any deliberate gesture on my part, just because my interest petered out. The good people at Panini have generously provided me a few review copies of Ultimate U trades, of which this is one, which have kept me somewhat in the loop. However, having said that I wasn’t too sure of the status of the UU version of Thor coming into this book, in fact between this and some other review UU books I had to ask a few well-informed geeks what the reading order was between UNU: Thor Reborn, Ultimate Avengers and Ultimate Thor!

The first thing that has to be said is that this is a really silly title for a book, I’ve no idea what was wrong with New Ultimates but this is about as daft as having a title called Avenging New Avengers or Defending Secret Defenders…it all just sounds a little power rangers to me.

As we join the action Thor is in Valhalla, having died a warrior’s death, and his place on the Ultimates has been taken by Valkyrie, a character first introduced in the 2nd volume of Ultimates as an unpowered superhero groupie as part of the cosplayesque Defenders team. It’s this team which acts as the catalyst for the story, as they attack the Ultimates which exposes a nefarious plot by Loki and the Enchantress. Meanwhile Thor is seeking to bargain his way out of Valhalla by making a deal with Hela. As things progress, unsurprisingly, the plot threads come together for a city-shattering battle or two.

It’s not the most intricate plot you’ll read this year, it’s more of a combination of certain well known plot elements “deal with the devil”, “heroes under a villains mind-control” etc. but that doesn’t stop it being an enjoyable read. Probably the most interesting element are the monologues which guide us through each issue, bringing us the deeper thoughts of a variety of characters. In particular the Loki one is very revealing of his need to mess with Thor, not kill him mind you, just screw around with him.

There’s a few cameos by characters not central to the Ultimates story and I love seeing Loki wearing a suit, reminds me of some of his  early appearances in Journey Into Mystery.

I’m an unabashed lover of Frank Cho’s art, my grail page is one of his featuring She-Hulk which I’d sell my soul for (see, I told you deals with the devil were overused), and he really opens up here as he’s given the opportunity to not only draw his usual incredibly sexy female characters but also has the chance to draw some huge battle scenes. Let’s be honest, who hasn’t wanted to see sabretooth tigers fighting trolls and dragons? One aspect that I’d commend the art team on is the balance between trying to show the brutal consequences of these fights without going overly gory in the detail. I think they do a fantastic job, and while the result isn’t all-ages it also doesn’t have the over-the-top guts everywhere of something like Siege.

And as ever with Panini this is a reasonably priced TPB (£12.99 for 5 issues or as low as £8.27 online) in the same month that Marvel put out their HC.

Reviewer: Dave Williams

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One comment

  1. My interest in the Ultimate line waned as well, but I have to admit, post-Ultimatum I have been enjoying the more tightly-focused direction the range has taken. In particular, the Ultimate Comics: Avengers / New Ultimates-related titles.

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