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Brian Michael Bendis, Jeph Loeb, J. Michael Straczynski - Ultimate Power

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Ultimate Power - The Worst of Greg Land's Controversial Art

Oct 23, 2008 (Updated Oct 23, 2008)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Bendis' usual cool concepts, pacing is good half the time

Cons:Greg Land's copycat art is far too blatant, Bendis offers nothing original in this storyline

The Bottom Line: Ultimate Power would be average if not for Land's artwork- and even an accomplished writer like Bendis can't save this piece from sub-mediocrity. 


Ultimate Power is sort of a convoluted way to throw in Squadron Supreme which was created by Straczynski into the Ultimates universe as they already are in an alternate universe called Earth 31916. To get them into the Ultimates universe required a bit of a contrived setup by the skilled but vastly over-extended writer Brian Michael Bendis, who simply doesn’t realize that there is no way for him to write Ultimate Spiderman, Powers and the endless lines of other projects he likes to juggle without having some sort of effect on quality. It is painful to see him continue to overextend himself, because while he started off as a seminal writer with his first major work for Marvel, Daredevil, Ultimate Power ends up just another Bendis story. It’s larger than life in the all too familiar Morrison-JLA scale but never really quite has the strong shock moments that Millar delivered in the Ultimates. In short- it’s a fluff story.

The controversy of the piece though lies at Marvel’s continual support of Greg Land in giving him this work, which has given them plenty of flak from comic fans. Now, the average person might pick up your standard Greg Land work and think- what’s the big deal? This guy’s art is gorgeous- he certainly draws beautiful girls, and uses a photo-realistic style that emulates another accomplished artist- Alex Maleev, who also worked with Brian Michael Bendis on Daredevil.

Don’t be fooled though- love it or hate it- Greg Land is the ultimate of copycats. His art is photo-realistic because he copies photos, which some may find outright offensive. But even if you give him credit for making good layouts and at the least converting it to his hack-style, the real unforgivable act has been that he doesn’t even come up with his own page layouts sometimes and goes as far to copy other comic artists’ work, which is a bit worse than just using a photo-reference. Looking at his art, I was hesitant to believe the accusations but after a lengthy post found at Jim’s Mash blog here http://jimsmashextended.blogspot.com/2008/07/greg-land-tracing-swiping-recycling.html there’s more than just bundles of proof on the net and I was convinced.

Now Ultimate Power has a good start- the art isn’t bad for what it is in the first few issues, and the premise by Bendis isn’t half bad either. After a short rumble with a team of super-powered model-hot girls, Mr. Fantastic returns to his goal of trying to find Ben a cure for his condition. When funding is refused by Nick Fury, he decides to go ahead with his plan anyway to send a probe to explore other dimensions. Little does he know this seemingly harmless experiment will cause extensive damage in another universe, creating a dimensional portal that will have severe consequences on Earth.

Problem is with any plots involving dimensional rifts, it’s pretty much open game to do whatever the heck you want, and that’s kind of what happens. The plot steadily gets bit by bit more convoluted with each issue, eventually dragging in Dr. Doom (as necessary for any FF story), and without strong character driven story, it ends up nothing more than a cool but clumsy concept.

Greg Land’s artwork gets increasingly inconsistent as the series progresses, and it looks like he was running low on time, because unlike most of his pages which at least preserve a similar rendering style, more and more his pages start looking more blatantly like copy-cats because he doesn’t spend the time to shade them properly. That is the part I think that really killed this book for me.

I typically enjoy a decent story with solid art like Greg Land’s and would have given this piece an average score in the Ultimate universe, but if you do plan on copying art, then at least do a good job- Land’s work is just progressively lazy and with the large cast called upon by Bendis, his girls start looking all the same and you begin to see the obvious extent of plagiarism involved as he recycles shamelessly his facial expressions and poses. Some of Land’s older works show a little more care at least in hiding this fact, but in particular Ultimate Power just doesn’t cut it. Pass.


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