Best Shots Reviews: ULTIMATES2 #100, GENERATIONS: WOLVERINE

Marvel Comics August 2017 solicitations
Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics

Ultimates2 #100
Written by Al Ewing
Art by Travel Foreman, Filipe Andrade, Marco Lorenzana, Scott Hanna, Dan Brown, and Matt Yackey
Lettering by Joe Sabino
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Justin Partridge
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

Ultimates old and new assemble on the front lines of the battle for all of reality in the finale of Ultimates2. If that sounds crazy, I assure you True Believer, it is, but Al Ewing, who has been consistently conjuring the spirit of Jonathan Hickman throughout his Ultimates run, goes for the heart while also going as big as possible. Ewing’s finale contains a multiverse full of moving pieces, but the script’s heart and pathos are always front and center, giving the vague celestial characters of Marvel’s cosmic canon real weight and characterization to match their “heralds,” the Ultimates.

Sending the “paramedics of the multiverse” into that good night are capable, talented artists like Travel Foreman and Filipe Andrade, Marco Lorenzana, Scott Hanna, backed by the prismatically searing colors of Dan Brown and Matt Yackey. This issue opens on the verge of total reality collapse and the artwork reflects that, all sketchy lines and hazy backgrounds detailing a world on the brink. But as the scope of the story expands outward into infinite dimensions, the panels take on a heavenly stillness, allowing readers to drink in the majesty of the Marvel pantheon in all their Steve Ditko-ian glory. It has been a long road for this team of impossible people doing impossible things, but The Ultimates2 #100 provides them a send-off worthy of their position in the Marvel Universe.

When we last left our team, they were facing down the Ultimate Universe’s resident bad penny the Maker and an Ultimates team straight out of the pages of a Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch joint from the 2000s. Of course, Al Ewing is playing 3-D chess here with his main plot of Celestial warfare, but these scenes offer up some grounded superhero fun before the craziness gets well and truly underway. Ewing’s Classic Ultimates are posturing throwbacks to a far less subtle time in superhero comic books that stand as a hilariously huge contrast to the diverse and self-assured prime Ultimates. Ewing doesn’t dwell on this team up long, mainly using it as a plot device framing the larger meta story, but it is still neat to see a title so focused on the future take the time to respectfully recognize its past.

But when The Ultimates2 #100 really kicks off, stardust bleeds through the pages, making the cinematic, real-world nature of the title’s origins almost seem quaint. Moving from expressive displays of superhero action to meditative and awe-inspiring vistas of dimensional space, the creative team starts to heal the fractures in the multiverse and her staff of cosmic custodial entities. It is here where they lean into the grandeur and strangeness that has permeated through the series. What started with a classic Marvel “What If?” based around Galactus has grown into a display of Marvel cosmic drama that even Jim Starlin could be proud of thanks to a few intrepid souls and a rich tapestry of characters provided by some of Marvel’s 'architects.'

But while this final issue is sweeping and beautiful and the kind of supremely strange story that only comics can provide, #100 won’t be for everyone. For example, while Ewing’s script is poetic and given a real portentous energy thanks to some overtime from letterer Joe Sabino, readers who have skipped a few issues will find themselves lost in the details of the payoffs at play in this final installment. The broad strokes are neat enough, but as they say, the devil is in the details. The argument could also be made that for an Ultimates book, the actual team was often sidelined in favor of the kind of grand cosmic schemes that the title brings to an end here today.

But what are such trifles to gods? Though not perfect, The Ultimates2 still dared to do more than be just a superhero story and its finale issue reflects that in a potently entertaining way. Pulling inspiration from the farthest reaches of Marvel space and from the greats of multilayered storytelling, Al Ewing, Travel Foreman, Filipe Andrade, Marco Lorenzana, Scott Hanna, Dan Brown, and Matt Yackey do right by their team of impossibles and put away the cosmic toys of this series for another time, another team, and another war in the heavens. Comic books are a long way from “This A on my head doesn’t stand for France!” and The Ultimates2 #100 proves that with cosmically grand style.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Generations: Wolverine & All-New Wolverine #1
Written by Tom Taylor
Art by Ramon Rosanas and Nolan Woodard
Lettering by Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Kat Calamia
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

Generations: Wolverine & All-New Wolverine #1 is what every Generations story should strive to be. This issue is comedic, action-packed, and most importantly emotional as it focuses on the relationship between father and daughter - a story that couldn’t be told outside of Generations because of Logan’s death. It’s Laura’s chance to have one last day with the person she lost.

Unlike Hulk and Jean Grey, Generations: Wolverine is told from the point of view of the hero from the past. This perspective makes the story feel refreshing as Taylor normally doesn’t have a chance to write Logan’s voice. The issue opens up with a familiar scene - Logan slicing through the undead ninjas of the Hand, as he hunts to find his daughter Akiko - but the fireworks really start with the timely arrival of Laura. As Logan sees a lot of himself in this mysterious new Wolverine, you can’t help but share his admiration in her speed, her grace, and most importantly, the perspective she has on Logan’s life.

The chemistry between Laura and Logan is electric, to the point where they’re not just bouncing off one another with rapid-fire banter, but are even anticipating each other in combat. Logan and Laura both understand each other’s fighting styles as they flawlessly go through a group of ninjas and go head-to-head against a classic Wolverine foe. Ramon Rosanas’ pencils allow these scenes to feel beautifully kinetic. It flows very nicely with Taylor’s script as Logan learns more about Laura’s power set.

The greatest takeaway from Generations: Wolverine & All-New Wolverine #1 is that this is a book about a father/daughter relationship, even if Logan doesn’t know this at first. The issue is about Logan discovering that this is his daughter - that he may be the best at what he does, but he can always be a better father. Laura teaches him to be a better parent for Akiko because she never had the chance to have the typical bonding moments a daughter should have with their father - like reading a bedtime story as the child drifts off to sleep. This makes it even more heartbreaking at the end of the issue to watch Logan physically reach out to Laura as time starts to run out on them, while Laura only has time to mutter “Goodbye, Dad.”

Laura didn’t have a storybook relationship with her father, but the relationship they did have allowed her to be the type of hero she is today. This is why seeing an adventure between this version of Laura and Logan is so important, Tom Taylor showcases how much Laura has grown through the eyes of the person who helped her get there.

While you might miss it due to their bombastic action sequences, Rosanas and Woodard also work wonders to set the perfect emotional tone for this issue. Woodard especially does this through the colors he picks for the sky, with the sunset at the beginning and the sunrise at the end of the issue being a nice small touch to show the limited time Laura and Logan had with each other. Rosanas does a beautiful job with his artwork at showcasing the comedic and emotional moments through his great work on facial expressions, making for a well-balanced issue.

Generations: Wolverine & All-New Wolverine #1 keeps the Generation one-shots feeling fresh with a new perspective. If you are a Wolverine fan, this is a must-read issue that delivers an emotional, character-driven story that won’t leave a dry eye in the house.

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