Chekov’s Gun and ISO-8
What’s not to love about Ultimates #1?
Minority superheroes? Check.
Bad-ass minority superheroes? Check.
Proactive superheroes? Check.
Ambitious superheroes? Absolutely! Check!
Holy cow, is this the superteam the Avengers should have been?
A group of superheroes who plan to be forward thinking and solve problems before they become an issue. I expected them to have resolved global warming by some time in the afternoon, right after they handled world hunger and my inability to get a parking space during the Christmas shopping season.
Despite the coolness factor in the above cover, I had a couple of questions:
- Why are the world’s most powerful minority heroes shuffled offworld, except for the Black Panther who is physically the weakest of the group.
- Though I can appreciate their agenda of dealing with problems before they become problems for Earth, I am not certain why they didn’t start on Earth and THEN go into space. Charity starts at home and spreads abroad, after all… Aren’t there some issues on Earth which could have had some Avenger attention?
- What happened to the science advisor who should have been working at Marvel by now, since they seem to be trying to revamp and revitalize their universe, I assumed they were going to work on getting some continuity and some science advice?
Science in the Marvel Universe
There isn’t any. Oh god, I wish there were. Maybe I can get that job as their science advisor…
- Okay Marvel, I understand you wanted to take advantage of your recent universal reboot to alter the underlying physics of your new Marvel Universe (that isn’t a real reboot, but we’re taking advantage of its reboot-like conditions) to introduce what I will dub ISO-8.
- Why? Because calling it neutronium makes me want to hit the person who told you to use that term. Neutronium is an actual something in THIS universe.
- Neutronium (sometimes shortened to neutrium) is a proposed name for a substance composed purely of neutrons. The word was coined by scientist Andreas von Antropoff in 1926 (before the discovery of the neutron) for the conjectured “element of atomic number zero” that he placed at the head of the periodic table.
- However, the meaning of the term has changed over time, and from the last half of the 20th century onward it has been also used legitimately to refer to extremely dense substances resembling the neutron-degenerate matter theorized to exist in the cores of neutron stars; henceforth “degenerate neutronium” will refer to this.
- Science fiction and popular literature frequently use the term “neutronium” to refer to a highly dense phase of matter composed primarily of neutrons.
- When you use a word like Neutronium in your comic, people who know something about science have seizures and foam wildly at the mouth while they rant incomprehensibly in tongues asking why you didn’t give it a new name like: galactimanium, mcguffinium, unobtainum, cocoastrum, illiaster, underminium, super-compressed stellar matter, quantum minerals, stable virtual particles, you get the idea, right? I could do this all day.
- Why not create your new material, give it a name and THEN call it ISO-7 or ISO-8 and no one would have even blinked. If you want to take this time to try and create an underlying physical or technical explanation to the incredible energies used by your characters all these years, I am all for it. But if you’re going to do that, then do a decent job. Explain it, make it reasonable and then stick with it.
- There has already been talk of something dubbed Isotope-8 which presumably is the same thing but the nature of this substance has not been clearly defined other than its some kind of “force multiplier”. Expose it to a force and it can extend the nature, harmonics and intensity of said force. Not strictly a catalyst since it can be changed in the interaction.
- For now, it is something new to the Marvel panoply of mysterious forces manipulated by cosmic beings making them able to do things mere mortal beings can only imagine. It makes sense. This capacity for beings to have powers that are orders of magnitude greater than most normal fundamental force in the Universe might explain how flesh covered entities could still manipulate powers whose destructive capacity was unrivaled by most technology. I hope whatever ISO-8 is, it stays rare.
- I hope there is just enough to keep Galactus fed, who because he has the technology to find it, will only find enough to keep him from feasting on inhabited worlds and not have any left over for shenanigans like star-busting or galaxy-destroying. And what ever you do, don’t let Walt Simonson get his hands on any. Shaka-craka-doooommm!!!
Outside of this particular scientific bit of handwavium, I enjoyed what I suspect will be a Chekov’s gun because I believe this new cosmic meta-material shall be involved in what I will call…
The Feeding of Dangerous Predators
This is the worldship of Galactus, Taa II. Look upon its majesty in awe and terror! This is one of the oldest known artifacts in the Marvel Universe. Larger than entire planets its where the oldest being in the Universe hangs out between his planetary milkshakes.
Roll Call: In case you’ve been living under a rock: Blue Marvel, Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel, Spectrum, America Chavez, and the Black Panther.
- Blue Marvel is one of the most powerful metahuman beings from the planet Earth. An incredible triple threat, he has immense physical strength, electromagnetic manipulation abilities and a genius-level IQ ranking him with the big brains of the Marvel Universe. He beat the Avengers single handedly, beat the Sentry, too. Here he is waxing on about the new fundamental aspect change to the Marvel Universe. I went over that in the Science section.
- Black Panther – King T’challa: One of the greatest minds on Marvel’s Earth, the Black Panther is coordinating the events his team is currently operating on in real time from his mission control center. Wherein he causes diplomats from other countries to tremble in his presence and ask nervous questions in which he answers in certainty enough to make anyone more than a little fearful.
- I don’t know who provided the ansible (a fictional technology which allows the ability to communicate across the universe in real time with some as yet undiscovered FTL or entangled communication stream) but it was a necessity for this team to communicate at the distances they work at.
- I assume Galactus doesn’t hid his worldship in a convenient location. Which begs the question, how did they know where to find it? Does Google offer intergalactic mapping?
- Spectrum: Monica LeBeau. A personal favorite, a woman whose full spectrum of powers…sorry, dwarf most people’s imagination.
- She can move and react at light-speed, can project any form of electromagnetic energy she is familiar with as a weapon or anything else she can think to use light for.
- She can render herself almost complete immune to most physical forms of attack. She is a thing of beauty.
I told you, I love me some Monica, plus I wanted to get that data picture and show Monica in action. You also get a piece of America Chavez doing her superspeed thing.
- America Chavez: a Latino woman whose history is a little fuzzy at the moment but what I saw of her says, multiversal-dimensional galactic-level teleporter and the physical ability to be seen moving by Spectrum when she enters her lightspeed mode. Normally things stand still when Spectrum is in light-speed mode, but America Chavez is moving, fighting and tearing alien metals apart with her bare hands at super-speed. Terrifying.
This needs no caption. Just read and be amazed. I was.
- Captain Marvel – Carol Danvers: Used to be quite the energy projector herself, but it would appear somewhen recently her powers were changed a bit. She can still project energy but it seems she needs a bit of a jumpstart from another energy projector. Once she gets going, she can at least temporarily output as much energy as her previous Binary identity could. Not happy with her power alteration, but okay, I understand why it was done.
Carol looks great in this new costume. I am really loving the look. Earth’s mightiest hero? Now that is something I and quite a few mightier heroesmight take umbrage with.
This is one of the most powerful versions of the Avengers lineup, I have seen in a long time. Who the hell are they going to go up against in their first appearance? Whup. Never Mind.
No less than the Devourer of Worlds, the Mighty Galactus!
- I have a few issues with some of the things revealed in this first installment of the Ultimates, but overall, a job well done. If this is truly about feeding Galactus and keeping him from attacking living planets, then it should be interesting first few issues.
- I didn’t say much about it and it deserves some mention, the art, colors and inks are very good and while it took me a moment to get used to the kinetic markers in the backgrounds of the layouts, after a while I used them to frame the action and the style grew on me.
- The art is visually satisfying and the picture of Galactus at the end was suitably stunning. Galactus is looking well-fed and so immense we only get to see half of him. Nicely done.
- But how do you sustain a series based on the idea, of putting one of the most dangerous entities to have ever existed in the Marvel Universe on the payroll and expect me you are going to be able to keep the intensity up?
- I was dubious about Annihilation and all of their spinoffs, and I was more than pleasantly surprised. So I will hold out for this series and let it convince me of its merits.
Right now, it gets five stars from me. I am eager to see what’s next.
Actually, there is one thing about Ultimates #1 that I don’t like. I don’t like Blue Marvel.
Not the character himself, actually; the way Marvel retconned him into existence as the Greatest Hero Of Them All in the 1960s… then everyone decided he was controversial because he was Black, and everyone just conveniently forgot this demigod was ever around, but now he’s back and everything’s cool and isn’t that keen?
It’s always been my opinion that retcons suck hairy, smelly balls. I get that Marvel is big on building a larger audience, including more women and minorities, and the new Ultimates lineup–and Blue Marvel–is a way of doing that… but doing it in a way that insults our intelligence doesn’t earn them any points with me. I don’t hate Dr. Brashear, but I sure wish Marvel had found a better way to create him in the first place.
You aren’t the only one. I have shared my feelings on that retroactive legerdermain in a couple of other posts. Was that really the best they could do? I want this series to do well. I want to believe Marvel is acting in good faith but I’ve been tricked before.
True that. And let’s face it, Marvel has proven… let’s say “clumsy”… with the way they’ve handled characters and teams before. The racial makeup of this team, for instance, seems like a very knee-jerk reaction to addressing old biases, without really thinking through the process. But some of that reaction may be just me overthinking it, so I won’t dwell.