By Stephen Clark
Having to wait for more of the violent chaos jazz they’ve captured here is going to be hard.
Ultramega never stops being a powerhouse of a comic.
It’s a thicker book and it deserves to be. Writer/artist James Harren attributes the length to this being his first time as the writer on a book and not being able to adhere to the 20 page issue format. However, this longer issue is one perfect portion of story. The reader is thrown into the plot in the same way that “Jason”, our main character, is thrown in. He is suddenly imbued with the ability to become an “Ultramega”, the grimiest version of “Ultraman”, to fight against the kaiju who attack the city. In just a few panels, we’re given Jason’s background, the story of the other two Ultramegas and how they’ve all dealt with the responsibility and danger that being an Ultramega presents.
Things aren’t as cut and dry as some big monster stories can be. Often, the kaiju are an invading alien force of floppy-suited baddies like Baltan or Rita’s monsters. Here, the humans of the city will suddenly mutate into kaiju, apparently because of their proximity to the UItramegas. The responsibility of protecting the city, killing kaiju who were formerly humans and the physical and emotional scars of those battles have worn down the Ultramegas. They’ve protected the humans for years at this point, when a new and greater threat emerges, requiring them to throw everything they have at it.
James Harren and colorist Dave Stewart work together to make an already interesting and heavy story burst from panel to panel like the meanest and goriest Kool-Aid man. The action and dialogue push you forward but you want to stop and appreciate the tiny details of the world, the textures of the city and learn everything you can about the future city it is set in. But there is no time for that, at least not on the first read.
I soared along with the high points and crawled through the mud in the lows, enjoying every second of it. I went back to read it again immediately afterwards and found myself reaching for it again today, in a time where I have a “to be read” pile of comics. Some comics are comics because they’re just not yet the movies they’re hoping to become. This? This is a comic that I genuinely don’t know how you would ever do justice to in a series or film, live action or even animated.
The closest experience I can compare this first issue to is how I felt at the end of the prologue to ‘The Last of Us’. It was a complete narrative thrill ride that excited me, gave me a whole new world and made me feel something alongside the characters in it. For ‘The Last of Us’, I decided I was good with that one great moment and never played the rest of the game. With Ultramega, Harren and Stewart delivered that same flawless crescendo but with a tease at something more that’s impossible to call “enough” and put down. Having to wait for more of the violent chaos jazz they’ve captured here is going to be hard.
The next issue comes out on April 21st and you should absolutely pick up that, as well as the first issue,#1 here.