The Ultimate Universe was ostensibly built to, in most cases, offer fresh new takes on the beloved characters of the 616 Marvel Universe. Hawkeye is a covert ops bad ass! Tony Stark has brain cancer! The Hulk is grey! But when it comes to Captain America, there’s really not too many other ways to skin a cat. He’s maybe a little “less nonsense” than the original version but, still, same serum, same World War, same decades trapped in ice.
Oh, also, he uses a gun.
In general, though, Jason Aaron and Ron Garney are telling a pretty straight forward Captain America story here. His serum is being mysteriously misused, he goes commando on some dudes, a big new bad guy beats the crud out of him, the big bad guy is revealed. See you next month. It is being written by Jason Aaron, though, so it’s certainly more engaging on a character level then your average action comic. Also, the reveal of the bad guy has some pretty interesting implications for where the rest of the story is headed, especially considering some of Aaron’s previous work.
If there’s one slightly loose end here, it’s Ron Garney’s art. Garney is a fantastic artist, don’t get me wrong. He has a great sense of storytelling and a dynamic line. He infuses the action with plenty of energy, as well. The problem is that, like so many artists these days, Garney’s work is digitally inked. Some artists can squeak by with a style that’s clean enough so just upping the contrast in Photoshop is a perfectly fine way to make the art pop, but Garney isn’t apparently one of them. You can practically see the 2B dust on the page. It’s a shame, because as I said, Garney is a great artist. But his work looks sketchy and indistinct in so many places that it is robbed of the impact it really ought to have. Is it because Marvel doesn’t have to hire an inker? Is it because it’s easier to hit deadlines?
Someone get back to me on that, thanks.
Overall, though, this is a fine comic. Jason Aaron elevates it a fair stretch above your usually mindless superheroics and there’s a pretty great looking comic book growing in Ron Garney’s pages. I’m also quite interested to see how Aaron brings in America’s rockier moments in history into play in future issues. Not too much really makes it “Ultimate,” but that doesn’t necessarily make it bad.