By Dustin Cabeal
Ultraman is exactly what I wish DC had done with The New 52 or what Marvel started doing with their Ultimate line of books. The story keeps what came before it, but has flashed forward to a world that’s just starting to get and understand Ultraman once more. He’s not going large and fighting a new monster every week, but instead, he’s still learning how to control his power that’s buried deep inside him.
What continues to be enjoyable about this world and the story is the slow pace in which old ideas and villains are added back to the story. It’s the opposite of something like Ultimate Spider-man in which villains would be introduced over six issues, sometimes longer and then slowly it was four, then two, then it could happen in a single issue, and it just stopped meaning anything to the world. Ultraman is the ultimate slow burn because it won’t sacrifice the story or the character development just to get to something new in the story.
This volume is split in two as a major arc is closed out and another is started. The fight continues, and while it’s not the most intense fight, it does feel as if all the characters are fighting to the death. Shinjiro levels up in many ways, and it changes the story going forward. It also changes the pacing of his character development which is the biggest consequence to come from the fight. Otherwise, we learn a bit more of the political drama going on, but not enough to have a full understanding of what the characters are up against.
The action and the drama are very well balanced. Just when you want more fighting, it eases back and leaves you waiting for the next punch. The same is true of the drama, just when you think you’re learning enough, the scene changes leaving you waiting to fill the gaps in. The writing is as strong as the artwork which is saying plenty.
Why? Because the artwork is phenomenal. It’s not just good for manga standards either; it’s good period. I don’t think any sane person would look at Ultraman and not being impressed by what Eiichi Shimizu and Tomohiro Shimoguchi are doing in the series. The only part that felt weak in this volume was the fighting because at one point it became confusing about who was fighting who. A lot of these character dress similarly and with it being in black and white you have to look at the details to know just who is talking. Not a big deal since I love staring at the art, but it does pull you out of the reading.
It does seem like this volume ends awkwardly. It happens in manga a lot when compiling a trade. While it works well enough, it ultimately ends up leaving you with way too many questions about what you just read. We’ll just have to wait until the next volume to understand more. Otherwise, this is yet another great addition to the new Ultraman series from Viz.
Ultraman vol. 8
Creators: Eiichi Shimizu, Tomohiro Shimoguchi
Publisher: Viz/Viz Signature