Review by From the Booth‘s own Ken
Jonathan Hickman has probably been the third most influential writer in the Marvel Ultimate Universe after Brian Michael Bendis and Nick Spencer. From his collaboration on Secret Warriors to his vastly underrated work on S.H.I.E.L.D. to his run on Fantastic Four, Hickman shows he is a stellar writer in any universe. Carlos Pacheco, while a lesser known artist and penciler, has worked on Avengers Forever, X-Men and did covers for DC’s Trinity.
While Ultimate X-Men and Ultimate Spider-Man have been flagships of the universe, for whatever reason The Ultimates, their version of the Avengers, has never had a series that made it to 20 issues despite selling quite well. A stripped down, core Avengers team appeals to me especially when there are at least 3 Avengers teams and 4 books at any one time in the Marvel U proper. Ultimate Thor was a solo mini-series that ran for 4 issues and told the origin of the character.
Thor, a test subject in a military experiment, comes off more like Moon Knight than his Marvel U self. After undergoing a super-soldier treatment, the test subject believes he is the reincarnated son of Odin despite being mortal and having no powers. He draws pictures of universes within universes in his cell and talks to his dead brother. Eventually receiving a belt and hammer that grant him the powers that he is used to, it’s impossible to know if this Thor is truly the son of a god or if he just belongs in a straitjacket.
The art in the book is fantastic and the action sequences are drawn with exquisite detail. The Ultimate universe does an excellent job of streamlining the story while throwing in surprises for those familiar with Thor’s Marvel U origin. Overall though, the story comes across as a little cookie-cutter and never reveals anything about Thor that we don’t already know. The flashback scenes to the fall of Asgard make the scenes of Thor with his therapist almost unbearably boring. While the Moon Knight treatment of Thor is an interesting new take on an old favorite, the story takes too long to build and the payoff is promised in The Ultimates, not Ultimate Thor.