By Dustin Cabeal
What is absolutely delightful about reading the new Ultraman, is the fact that the story is always finding new layers of drama to add to the story. I’m not even fully confident in Shinjiro’s abilities as Ultraman yet, nor is he, and we have three freaking Ultramen! On top of that, every time the kid catches a break to think and development himself, he’s thrust back into action. Oh, and did I say three Ultramen? Maybe math is off. Wink, wink.
The third Ultraman gets his ass handed to him at the start of this volume. It makes him even more of a wild card, and you have to question his relevance to the story. Thankfully, this entire volume addresses his relevance. It has to do with aliens. I know, I know, that’s a “duh, ” but I’m not going to tell you. There’s a huge ass conspiracy going on, and it’s so big that there are layers upon layers and we don’t even know what percentage of the conspiracy we know. After this is all revealed, the Ultramen are sent to track down a mercenary that’s harvesting humans as a side gig. He’s been tasked with killing Ultraman; he just needs to figure out which one. This leads to a huge battle that isn’t concluded in this volume.
While the first two-thirds of the trade build the story and the plot, the last third has the most character development. Though it’s not all for Shinjiro, there is some for him, and it comes in the form of motivator and leader, which is important because he lacks both. There could have been more in my opinion, but the rest of the plot that’s build needed as many pages as it took and it was wonderful. The writing is sharp; the reveals are paced and timed perfectly making you want to read and know even more. The conspiracy, for lack of a better term, once again amplifies this series to a new level. It seriously amazes me that the creators can continue stacking ideas upon ideas and never let the story settle or rest on its laurels. Often time with manga a formula and rhythm are developed, and you see creators pull two steps forward, one step back type of deal. With Ultraman, it’s running forward constantly and doesn’t look to be stopping anytime soon.
The art is wonderful as usual, but I did have some problems with the fight at the end. Specifically, there were times when I was confused by who was where and fighting who? The art is very detailed, and while the designs are all similar, it was the night time setting that made it hard. The creators do a fantastic job of keeping everything very realistic looking, and so I’m not complaining about the lighting, but yeah, I did have to slow down and piece together who was who and where they were located in the scheme of things. Otherwise, the art is gorgeous and love the designs, particularly the aliens because they’re not all pretty.
Other than the minor gripe with the art and need for more development on Shinjiro, this is a solid volume. It amazes me just how consistent it has been, and it's impressive how it continues to change, grow and get stronger with every passing page. No big monsters yet, thank God, because this new Ultraman, feels new and fresh.
Ultraman vol. 7
Creators: Eiichi Shimizu, Tomohiro Shimoguchi
Publisher: Viz/Viz Signature