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09 October 2011 @ 03:11 pm
Promised Ultimates Rant  
Sometimes, I have to question if Mark Millar actually likes the Avengers. Seriously. Between Civil War and the Ultimates-verse, it seems like he actually despises most of the characters in the Avengers, which makes me wonder why he writes them at all.

I'd read some of the Ultimate comics years ago when they first came out, but of course lately, I've been catching up on everything and trying to read it all in order with most of the tie-ins. And while yes, the stories are generally compelling enough to keep me reading... they simultaneously enrage me to a ridiculous extent.

First of all, I thought the whole point of the Ultimate Universe was an attempt to be more realistic. Apparently, realistic to Mark Millar means just about everyone becomes a horrible, horrible person. Generally, they have almost nothing to do with the original characters they're based on- except their worst traits are taken and amplified to a point of almost caricature, such as the fact that the Hulk is now a cannibal who wants to rape all the women. Hank and Jan are spoiled, selfish, assholes, and Millar seemed to think it would be funny to glorify spousal violence by having a whole issue devoted to them abusing each other in a "look, isn't this hilarious" sort of way. And what he did to Steve Rogers!!! One of the reasons I've always loved Steve is for the way he always tries to be the best person he can... and the way he inspires others to the same. He's compassionate, sympathetic individual who can certainly have his flaws (including being stubborn and certain that he knows best) but who, in the end, tries to be forgiving and understanding. Millar has removed almost every single one of the characteristics that made Steve who he is, and turned him into a old-fashioned, conceited, conservative, judgmental jerk.

Thor and Iron Man are the only Avengers that Millar actually seems to like, but again, he's transformed them past the point of recognition. I actually don't mind the characterization of Thor as a big hippie activist, but to be honest, 616 Thor has way more depth of character, and is generally more interesting. Meanwhile, Tony has been turned into a Gary Stu. Seriously. In the Ultimates verse, he got his first college degree at age 11, and there was AN ENTIRE PANEL devoted to Nick Fucking Fury waxing poetic about how amazing Tony's multi-tasking skills are. Nick Fury. Talking like a besotted tween about how amazing it is that Tony could invent shit and fuck women and earn billions and read things faster than anyone. How is this realistic or in character for either of them? Also, by totally changing the Iron Man origin story (Ultimate!Tony has a terminal brain tumor, so he decided to be a superhero before he died), Millar totally lost a lot of what made the character likable and meaningful.

Finally, what turned my increasing dislike into blinding rage was the author/artist commentary. I was reading the complete hardback collection of Vol 1, and at the end, there was a section of Millar and Hitch (writer & artist, respectively) talking about each issue. Their "hur hur hur, look at how funny this spousal violence is" conversation was extremely offensive, but that was nothing compared to their section about the Wasp being unclothed a lot in the later issues. Millar and Hitch spent some time discussing how they didn't need an excuse to have lots of pictures of "a naked Oriental woman". It was so horrifically racist and misogynistic that I almost threw the fucking book across the room. (Only the fact that it was a library book kept me from doing so.) SO MUCH FAIL.

And don't get me started on the Loeb issues. You can just have my Goodreads Review if you're curious.
Current Mood: angryangry
Current Music: Florence + the Machine
SLWalkersl_walker on October 9th, 2011 07:18 pm (UTC)
This totally reminds me how I feel about 616 Cyclops and what they did to him.
But you can call me Bowie: the mentalist: choisiscaughey on October 9th, 2011 07:23 pm (UTC)
I juts don't get the modern trend wherein authors seem to think that "realistic" = "darkier, edgier, and everyone is more of an asshole". Because that's so not true. I actually think the Ultimates verse comes off as less realistic than the modern 616 verse, because everyone is so distorted.
SLWalkersl_walker on October 9th, 2011 07:27 pm (UTC)
I think it might be some kind of attempt to appeal to much older audiences than comic books were originally meant for. Hence why former Fawcett best-seller Captain Marvel can't seem to find any traction in the DCU.
But you can call me Bowie: due south: fraserisiscaughey on October 9th, 2011 07:30 pm (UTC)
What they don't seem to realize is that assholing someone up is not the only way to make them more interesting to adults. There are other flaws and complexities that make characters interesting.

One of the reasons I've always loved Due South so much is because of the fact that Fraser is a character who is an extremely good guy, and a hero, but he is never, ever boring. Because he is complex and truly weird and has plenty of flaws. I think it's honestly more difficult to write that sort of character than it is to write an asshole anti-hero type.
SLWalkersl_walker on October 9th, 2011 07:51 pm (UTC)
You and me both, but they-- ::points up:: --are teenage boys who never, ever grew up and now have the reins of a comic stable of characters.
Great Briton: XMEN RoLogreatbriton on October 9th, 2011 07:30 pm (UTC)
ultimate verse for the most part is really craptastic. I liked Ultimate X-Men for the most part. I never got deep into the Ultimates so I don't know on these specific cases but i've heard many people rant about how shitty it is and how none of the characters are even recognizable.
But you can call me Bowie: avatar: kataraisiscaughey on October 9th, 2011 07:32 pm (UTC)
Yeah- the Ultimate X-Men TPBs are far more enjoyable than the Ultimates. There are still some things that Millar did (especially to the female characters) that piss me off, but on the whole, it generally enjoyable.
Mathilda: A Man Out of Timetaiyou_to_tsuki on October 9th, 2011 08:23 pm (UTC)
Because a universe where we drop someone in a tank from a plane on a gamma radiated monster man is totally realistic. Mmyes. Also incest is not at all socially unacceptable.

I wish someone could get it through to Marvel and DC that making something dark and gritty is not an acceptable substitute for good storytelling and character depth - rather the opposite. Older comics can be "unrealistic", silly, unintentionally hilarious, sometimes racist and sexist, but I still prefer many Bronze Age arcs over modern comics. They're not ~*deep*~, not like comics like The Sandman have depth, but many of them still attempt to add something to the story other than questionable action or preachy morals. *CoughSilverAgeComicsCough*

Characters can be interesting even if they are happy. Heroes can be good and still have flaws. I believe that people are fundamentally good and I feel sorry for those who believe that having our heroes behave like assholes is more realistic than the alternative.
But you can call me Bowie: avengersisiscaughey on October 9th, 2011 08:27 pm (UTC)

I mean, yeah, I get bored reading the original 60s Avengers sometimes, because they almost totally lack any sort of real depth and development, and it's pretty much all fighting in costume, but I'd rather be charmed and amused than pissed off and offended.

And I was saying to sl_walker, above, I think it's actually both more difficult and more interesting to write a good character who is complex and dynamic. It's easy to turn someone into an asshole.
Mathilda: Invincibletaiyou_to_tsuki on October 9th, 2011 08:39 pm (UTC)
Indeed. Really, some of my favourite story arcs are Bronze Age-era; Doomquest for example, in which Iron Man and Doctor Doom travel back in time to Arthurian England and fight in a zombie war. It's not exactly the pinnacle of modern storytelling but the writer does try to convey something about both main characters, their differences and similarities and how they react to each other. Or Englehart's Silver Dagger arc from Doctor Strange in '74, which makes a comment on the nature of life and death while being set in the Marvel equivalent to Lewis Carroll's Wonderland.

I feel like, if I'd want to read something dark and gloomy, well, there are other comics and books for that. Not my 616. Things aren't adult because they are more gritty and violent; actually I know many adult fans who rather read Marvel Adventures than Ultimates. :/

Yeah, very true. And it's so boring.
But you can call me Bowie: avengers 2isiscaughey on October 9th, 2011 08:43 pm (UTC)
Indeed- I actually respect the people who write my favorite Marvel Adventures stories more, because I think it takes a lot of skill to write a story that appeals to people of all ages while still remaining interesting.
Mathilda: Time And Nyan In Spacetaiyou_to_tsuki on October 9th, 2011 08:55 pm (UTC)
Marvel Adventures. <3 This reminds me why I love Doctor Who so much. It's a series that can be scary without gore, add romantic elements without sex, take completely silly premises and treat them seriously but isn't afraid to sprinkle everything with a lot of humour. And what it fundamentally is about is how intelligence and compassion wins out over aggression and cynicism. I wish comic writers could take note of this. D:
But you can call me Bowie: dr who: rose & sarah janeisiscaughey on October 9th, 2011 08:57 pm (UTC)
Your words to their ears.
aoife: Pratchett - Quote: Abyssfailte_aoife on October 9th, 2011 08:44 pm (UTC)
Because domestic violence is so funny...recently I got really pissed of, when a Comedy Show had a 'Semi-regular character runs from husband because he is emotionally abusive'-storyline which got solved via 'OH LOL WHAT FUN!'. It was doubly dissapointing because even ist is a Comedy show so far it had treated serious topics with enough respect...

I'm not so much into comics but I had similar thoughts about fantasy-novels. Not that I ran across many that were downright misogynic/racist (OK...The Painted Man was *takes deep breath*) but all that 'dark and gritty means it must be better'. I recently wrote that in some novels I wondered why the hero botheres trying to save the world at all, because it's absolutely dark and crappy and everybody hates him anyway.
But you can call me Bowie: batgirl 2isiscaughey on October 9th, 2011 08:47 pm (UTC)
I hate the dude authors who are unaware of their privilege, and just so insensitive to so many issues (gender, race, ablism, domestic violence et al), who say things like "well maybe you shouldn't read it" or "I didn't write it for you". And then, there are all the fans who worship them and back them up and never call them on it. Ughhhhhh, it makes me crazy.
Nightwalker: hiei & Kuwa wtf?nightwalker on October 9th, 2011 11:29 pm (UTC)
Well, I think this makes it official that I won't be investing a great deal of time or effort into Ultimates. I'd read a little here and there and mostly considered it to be kinds of... whatever. And the little I saw was dark, and unhappy and the characters always seemed so angry to be stuck with each other. But I'd heard good things about the big three (and this was when they all hated each other over in 616 so it was extremely appealing at the time.)

I confess to liking Ultimate X-Men more than I like the regular X-Men at the moment (not a big follower of either) because I think the darker, more violent edge in Ultimate X-Men is pretty believable. Not better, by any means, but if there really were mutants, I can see concentration camps and things like that springing up.

Totally feeling you on Millar. After Civil War I was convinced he just hated Iron Man and decided to make us all hate him too. But most of the other characters didn't come out any better. Which makes me wonder if he just wanted to see how far he could take it and ended up killing the characterization of every character he touched.
But you can call me Bowie: avengersisiscaughey on October 10th, 2011 01:23 am (UTC)
Well, Thor is pretty entertaining, and the whole "is he or isn't he actually the god of thunder" thing is rather interesting. And Tony is likable, if a total Gary Stu and not as interesting as he is in 616 (at least when properly written), but as mentioned above, I really, really don't like the characterization of Steve. They took away everything I loved most about him. Compared to a lot of the people in Ultimate verse, he's not a bad person, but compared to 616 Steve...
ykoriana: art by Michael Turnerykoriana on October 10th, 2011 12:24 pm (UTC)
Well, that pretty much sums up why I never picked up an Ultimates comic in my life. That, and the fact that I don't really keep with with 616 as it is, so I'm not going to confuse my poor brain with an alternate universe.

On Tumblr and LJ I often come across images or panels of Ultimate Steve, and honestly he really comes across as a sort of fundamentalist distortion of everything 616 Cap should be and is.
But you can call me Bowie: avengers 2isiscaughey on October 10th, 2011 02:43 pm (UTC)
Seriously. Steve is not a fundamentalist, conservative jerk. WORLD OF NO.