Artist: Steve Dillon
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Previously: The Avengers have met their match: a horde of vampires looking to recruit super heroes into their ranks. Led by the mysterious man in an iron suit, Anthony, the vamp army has just enlisted the newly turned Nerd Hulk and Kid Daredevil. After the first battle between the Avengers and vampires goes south, Blade descends on the Triskelion to take out the vampires’ biggest asset, the recently infected Captain America. It doesn’t go so well.
“There’s a world beneath your world, Mr Stark, and you can build all the cities and towers you like. It ain’t gonna go away.” –Blade
Sometimes the Ultimate universe comes off as if Marvel has given license to do a “What If …?” universe. A place where history and continuity have little meaning or long lasting consequences, almost like a disposable universe. Where writers can be as over the top with beloved characters and it doesn’t matter because these stories take place over here and aren’t part of the “canon” anyway, so just sit back and enjoy them.
That said, now throw in the second wave of horror tropes riding a wave of resurgent popularity. First zombies running amuck in the Marvel universe, now vampires. Add to the mix Mark Millar’s patented over-the-top sensibilities and snappy one liners, and you have Ultimate Avengers 3. Mark Millar’s Ultimate Avengers still carry the spirit of The Authority, moving at a cinematic scope yet filled with plenty of Millar being Millar: mocking the Twilight phenomena (which, cranky as I sound, believe me, this sequence alone is worth the price of admission); Blade as a smartass not a taciturn vambot, shooting folks to get them to shut up for a minute; and the Hulk vs Anthony.
“We don’t bow to any made up God. Defer to any man-made law. We just submit to our most basic values and follow even our darkest desires.” –Anthony
Like the vampires in 30 Days of Night, these vampires seem to roam about at will, eat from a buffet line of non-powered humanity, and basically give into their gluttony and excess. Their lives are reduced to wild, wanton wastes of wants and needs, being driven solely by desires, much like children without any parental supervision. In a lot of ways, they are like us, striving to live life on our terms, for our maximum happiness, not realizing how selfish this is. This points to our secret desires to set ourselves up as our own gods, determiners of our fate, and not realizing that we’re the problem.
We all have desires. Desires are good in and of themselves; it’s when they stray from their intended purpose that things go awry. Desires are also potential areas of temptation and sin. The desire to enjoy things can lead to evil desires that express themselves in physical activity (“lust of the flesh”); the desire to obtain things can lead to a covetous heart (“lust of the eyes”); and the desire to do things can lead to focusing our lives around such activity (“pride of life”).
But the purpose of desires is to lead us to right relationships, with God, with each other and to live in harmony with creation. We have to be met where we are, broken and lost, in order to move where we need to be.
The bullet point review of Ultimates 3 is … it is what it is. Seriously. Mark Millar scripting the Avengers will give you a romp that doesn’t always makes sense, have the characters acting in ways that often seem incongruent to how we’ve come to know them, but service the story/mood/joke, and in general be a good time. It is what it is, so you will either love it or loathe it, your mileage may vary.