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Ultimate Galactus, Book 3: Extinction

Posted by David Goodman On June - 17 - 2011

For many fans of Marvel Comics’ Ultimate line of books, there are two distinct periods: Pre-Ultimatum and Post-Ultimatum. Almost all agree that anything that came out before the ill thought out Ultimatum miniseries was pretty good and a fun read. However, anything that came out after Ultimatum (or as I call it, the Loeb Era) has generally been, how can I put it…? Well, crap. Fortunately, the Pre-Ultimatum era gave us loads of great comics to revisit in trade paperback collections. One of the highlights for me is the concluding chapter of the Ultimate Galactus Trilogy, Ultimate Extinction.

Ultimate Galactus Book 3: Extinction
Story by Warren Ellis
Art by Brandon Peterson
Cover by Brandon Peterson

In Ultimate Nightmare, the Ultimates and the X-men join forces to stop the psychic cry of the Vision as he attempts to warn the human race about the coming of the “uncreator.” That was followed by Ultimate Secret, in which the Ultimates and the Fantastic Four have to stop an attack by an alien race called the Kree. In the aftermath of the battle, Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. as well as the heroes of earth learn that this “uncreator” has a name: Gah Lak Tus.

It is here that Ultimate Extinction opens. At last fans will see the Ultimate version of Galactus and his herald, the Silver Surfer. The take Ellis uses is far different than anything you might expect. Instead of a giant alien with a large purple helmet, here Galactus is a hive mind intellect, a swarm of artificial intelligence that is 100,000 miles long. And it hates life. Despises it. It considers all existence a disease that has to be eradicated form the universe. The best was to accomplish that is to destroy the planet that the infestation lives on, take all the energy and move on to the next world. The Silver Surfer serves as Gah Lak Tus’s messenger, convincing people to end their own lives and herald the coming of the “uncreator.”

Trying to wrap your mind around all the concepts that Ellis throws into this book will make your head spin. It is by far and away one of the best reinterpretations of a classic Marvel concept in the entire Ultimate line. Plus the way Ellis writes the book, you can feel the tension build from chapter to chapter, panel to panel. Ultimate Extinction is some of the best writing I have ever read in any Ultimate or regular Marvel book. The scenes with Reed Richards are some of my favorites. Watching him deal with the guilt over the weapon he has created will break your heart. This is perfectly captured when he says, “Can’t you see I’m trying to commit a crime against science and nature here?” when building his weapon. Ellis has always been a master of dialogue and storytelling, but his work here is way above his usual level.

Of course, having the right artist can greatly enhance the story you want to tell. They found the perfect choice in Peterson. He brings something to the book that I don’t think another artist could have captured. The tension that Ellis worked into the plot so well is given a visual component with Peterson’s art. You can see the pain Reed Richards is in. You can feel the confidence in Professor X as he makes contact with Gah Lak Tus. You can sense the bravado of Nick Fury as he fights the impossible fight. Peterson also gets how to draw a big, dramatic finale. I will put the art in the concluding chapter up against anything else as a perfect example of how to draw the grand conclusion of a storyline. It is right up there with the work Bryan Hitch did in The Ultimates 1 and 2.

Where the first two parts of the trilogy where hampered by having to use multiple artists due to missed deadlines, Peterson draws the entirety of Ultimate Extinction and it really makes you wonder how much better the first two parts would have been with consistent art. And as a bonus, we finally get a decent, respectable version of Captain Marvel. In the Ultimate Universe, he is a renegade Kree defector and has one of the best costumes ever worn by a character called Captain Marvel.

If you plan on reading the Ultimate Galactus Trilogy, I recommend picking up the Ultimate Collection version which has all three books under one cover. It really should be read in one sitting and both Ultimate Nightmare and Ultimate Secret (Books 1 and 2 respectively) are pretty good on their own. Fortunately for us though, they saved the best for last in Ultimate Extinction.

5 Responses so far
  1. Mr Nobody Said,

    Could not disagree with you more. I bought, and read, the Ultimate Trilogy collected version and sold it the following day. Once upon a time, Eliis was an incredibly talented writer, that could razzle your dazzle yet be poignant and scathing. He has switched over to full blown hack mode shortly before his Marvel work, with his Marvel stuff being just awful. (Nextwave was fun, but the joke wore thin, quickly).

    With the Extinction trilogy, he varies from incoherent stream of consciousness to bland, unrealized plot points and character growth. He does not fail to break out the same old “Ellis 5″ characters archetypes and write them flatter than anything before. It’s apparent he was cleaning out his writer’s “neat idea, but no clue what to do with” closet, and made it into the Ultimate Trilogy. Peterson brings his C game to the table and it show, with uninspired panel flows and silly charcater poses. All in all, a complete disappointment, I’d recommend just re-reading your Ultimate’s vol 1 and 2.

    Posted on June 18th, 2011 at 6:20 AM

  2. Dave Said,

    First, everyone is allowed their opinion, its part of what being a comic book fan is all about. But I really think you need to take another look at least at Peterson’s art. This is good stuff, better than half the art that appeared in other Ultimate titles. Personally, I couldn’t find any fault in his panel layout or character poses. Like I said in my review, I would put this up against Hitch’s work for The Ultimates any day. Is it Ellis’s best work? No, that honor goes to Transmetropolitan. But it’s way better than Bendis’s Spider-Man or all the crap Loeb wrote.

    Posted on June 18th, 2011 at 5:41 PM

  3. Luke Brown Said,

    whoah whoah whoah. did you just say that Nextwave wore itself thin? immonen was blowing every other artist working out of the water on that book, and ellis was just plain ol’ having fun. the best thing about it is that it holds up no matter when you want to read it.

    Posted on June 20th, 2011 at 9:56 AM

  4. Dave Said,

    Nextwave is defenitly the kind of book that can be read whenever and it still is entertaining as hell.

    Posted on June 20th, 2011 at 10:25 AM

  5. Mr Nobody Said,

    Yes, the first 5 issues of Nextwave was a good read, but really it’s a completely forgettable book, much like Heckler, Ambush Bug or Damage Control. Stuart’s pencils were fine, but I’ve always found him to be a watered down version of Romita Sr. and Sal Buscema. His next assignment, Ultimate Spider-Man, did him no favors, as Bags is certainly no joy to follow. Especially given the amount of Spidey work he’s done; I mean the guy is the current era’s definitive Spider-Man artist.

    But back to Ultimate Galactus. I feel that it’s a black eye on an otherwise pretty solid line of comics. Were there misfires here and there in the monthlies? Sure, and just look at Ultimate Adventures, the Elektra mini and the 2nd & 3rd Ultimate Fantastic Four trades…which were, surprise, written by Ellis. There’s a reason no one referenced the events of Ultimate Galactus, and even went so far as to re-introduce us to the Silver Surfer in Ultimate FF. For my money, Mark Millar “gets” the Ultimate line in a wider sense, better than anybody.

    Posted on June 20th, 2011 at 11:57 PM

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