Ultraman has a long history. So long and so detailed that I won’t even begin to try to sum it up or say that I know it all. I know what I know about Ultraman and that’s it. What I continue to find really enjoyable about this new Ultraman series is that it takes what I know, but does everything different. No more are the days of growing large and battling across a city, but instead it’s adapted to modern manga in which it doesn’t need to do that. Simply put, that doesn’t work in a comic book and while there’s still a place for stories about characters growing to such a size that they would poking out of the atmosphere of earth and beating the tar out of each other, this isn’t that story. This is the realistic continuation of that type of story and it’s pretty fantastic because it takes everything old and makes it new again. Now… let’s get this out of the way. I’m sure there are some fans of the original Ultraman stories that find this a bit distasteful. After all, it’s taking a beloved franchise and removing a key feature from it. It’s a little like revamping Superman for American comic readers, you’re going to get backlash. So I acknowledge that because I have been on that side of the outcry, the fanboys that say “just tell the story with new characters rather than calling it something it’s not.”
My counterpoint to this is that if you’re going to change a long running franchise… this is the blueprint. I could never be mad at this new Ultraman because it is handling the entire history of the franchise with intense care. The change it’s made has also been handled with intelligence and a lot of thought. It’s not just, “we don’t need that gimmick” there’s an actual explanation for why and it’s that the power set has changed. The actual Ultraman power is gone and what remains is a fraction of that. It also leaves some possibilities for the future of course, but I personally really like this new direction it’s going in.
This volume introduces a lot of characters and kicks off some story threads that are sure to be explored either in tandem as the story continues or just as needed for the next few story arcs. What is clever about all of these different threads that are introduced is that they’re all woven together at some point in the story. You see them slowly come together and while that doesn’t mean they’ll all conclude at once; you do get see just how well-plotted the story is.
What happens in this volume is the next logical question so let’s give it a quick breakdown? We meet an old Ultraman villain who has reformed and is now basically running the SSSP. I won’t spoil that for you because I did say old villain and that’s enough to go off. This character does pull some strings throughout the story though as their plan to reveal aliens to the population again is playing out to their design. On Shin’s side of the story he’s deciding if he wants to be Ultraman… by being Ultraman. He starts saying ordinary people from dangerous situations and the media gets to buzzing about this new Ultraman that’s being dubbed a cosplayer. Shin is pushed to his mental limit when he’s sent to deal with an alien feeding on humans in brutal fashion. Suddenly the hero games gets real to him.
The art is a huge reason of why this series is so damn good. It’s extremely detailed, but aside from that the designs for Ultraman and really everything in the comic is incredibly cool. It’s a manga you pick up and just know that it’s so freaking cool. I mean if you were given this suit you’d where it in a heartbeat and never feel ridiculous because of how damn cool it looks. The detail is tremendous, the design in cool, but the action is top-notch. The action is easy to follow and because it has the cool design and detail it’s pretty amazing to read. It makes for a quick read, but at the same time you’ll just want to stop and soak in a page.
There’s a lot of moving pieces for the story. I mean there are so many elements of this story and world at play that it’s hard to sum them all up without feeling as you’ve missed something. The best thing about this book though is that it’s for new and old Ultraman fans. Hell, if you’re just a superhero comic book reader this will definitely be for you so check it out.
[button btn_url="" btn_color="primary" btn_size="large" btn_style="default" btn_outlined="no" link_target="blank" link_rel="" icon_left="" icon_right=""]Score: 5/5[/button]
Ultraman Vol. 2 Writers/Artists: Eiichi Smimizu, Tomohiro Shimoguchi Publisher: Viz/Viz Signature Price: $12.99 Release Date: Format: TPB; Print/Digital