Writing - 7/10
Art - 9.5/10
Overall - 8.3/10
Writer: James Harren
Artist: James Harren
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Maturity Rating: Mature
Publisher: Image Comics/Skybound Entertainment
Release Date: March 17, 2021
A cosmic virus is infecting the world. The only ones that can defend us from the mutated kaiju are the “Ultramega”, but the end is nigh.
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Monster Mash in Ultramega #1
A cosmic virus has taken the earth by storm—something that can turn ordinary people into giant kaiju monsters. The earth and its people live in fear; that is, until the “Ultramega” show up. Three people imbued with a strange power to transform into their own giant creature to battle the mutated infected. But what are the Ultramega and who gave them their powers? There are a lot of questions and not a lot of time to think when the monsters attack in Ultramega #1.
James Harren comes out guns a-blazing in Ultramega #1. He starts off this giant-kaiju-battle-filled series with the pedal to the floor and does not let up until the end. Blood and destruction abound and fists and body parts go flying as we learn about the Ultramega and the mystery surrounding the cosmic virus and how the people survive.
James Harren tries to find that sweet spot with kaiju stories in Ultramega #1. By sweet spot, I mean there is a line you kind of toe with giant-monster-fighting stories. I mean, what gets people in the door or, in this case, to open the issue, is, of course, the promise of James Harren detailing some giant monster fights. But even with how cool that all can be, without a solid story to back it up, it gets old fast. So, you need some kind of human element or plot to keep people interested and on board. Harren weaves in a wild one here.
There is a lot of mystery and set-up in Ultramega #1, rather obviously it being a #1 issue. It is also 60+ pages and Harren uses that to his advantage in delivering the story. Ultramega #1 is somewhat of an odd setup, and I am going to try to dance around this without spoiling anything. But the first issue more or less sets the stage for what the story is going to be. It is basically like, I guess you could say one long big flashback until the end. It tells us the history of this world and puts all the pieces in play.
On one hand, I like the set-up and ending. The end of the issue leaves what the rest of the series is going to be about kind of wide open. It also turns this world on its head, as well. But part of me, too, is questioning how effective it was. We really did not grow any major character connections and the story footing feels a little shaky. I do like that Harren does not try to explain this world too much. He gives us enough to get the story going but keeps it relatively simple.
Well, if you are not familiar with James Harren’s art, then you are in for a treat. But, I am also figuring that most people are picking up Ultramega #1 because of the name James Harren and giant kaiju battles. With that Ultramega #1 does not disappoint, with Harren throwing some wild, giant monster battles to feast your eyes on. His energetic style is the perfect fit. These giant fights are tremendously well done.
Great depictions of scope and size as well. Harren does a terrific job of making these giant creatures and the Ultramega feel larger than life. They have a weight, heft, and height to them that is depicted perfectly. For me, I am very impressed with Harren’s human characters. He does a fantastic job of capturing the regular people, not letting them slack in the face of these wonderful giant creatures.
Also, fantastic designs. The Ultramega have a delightful look. Obviously, a big play on style from Ultraman. But even with some homage, they are still all James Harren. They look fantastic as Harren brings an edge to their design. The mutated kaiju are grotesquely amazing as well. Harren certainly delivers some weird creatures in Ultramega #1.
We also cannot overlook the tremendous talent of Dave Stewart on colors. He is one of the best out there and it shows in Ultramega #1. The book is dark, dingy, and gross; Stewart captures it all superbly well. Ultramega #1 also features my favorite letterer in Rus Wooton. I do not know if some scenes hit as hard without the added lettering of Wooton; his placement and usage give everything that extra “pop”.
Ultramega #1 delivered exactly what you want from James Harren’s kaiju book. Now, the story may have some issues at the jump, but I am still very interested to see where we are going. The art is outstanding; you want giant bloody battles, you get them in Ultramega #1. James Harren is one of the best artists out there and this issue showcases all of his talents and more on each and every page.
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