Writer & Artist: James Harren
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Rus Wooton
I’ve said it many times on this site, but I’m a huge fan of the Tokusatsu genre. Even as an adult, franchises like Kamen Rider, Ultraman, and even Power Rangers astound me. They often feature larger-than-life heroes and even larger monsters. They are often bright and colorful, full of good, dumb fun.
Over the last few years, Western comics are dabbling in the genre more and more. While not everything has been successful, there have certainly been a few gems. None of those books had a debut as compelling as Ultramega #1. Ultramega takes the concept of giant heroes fighting giant monsters and adds a bit of body horror to it all. The end result is a compelling take on the genre that is both harrowing and compelling.
James Harren is in charge of both the writing and art of Ultramega and handles both exceptionally well. The creator throws readers into the world, with light exposition slightly describing the hero and how he got his ability to turn into a giant Kaiju fighting hero. This issue is quite long at over 60 pages, and Harren makes the most out of all of it. A dominating threat is looming over the city that the hero is tasked to protect. On the way to a giant battle, readers will get to know the hero and his family as a sense of dread hangs over everything. Before long, readers are treated to a gorgeous battle that will excite just about anyone.
While Harren successfully utilizes some of the tropes that make the genre so popular, he doesn’t lead on them. Ultramega is wildly accessible, and while the concept is outlandish, it’s not nearly as silly as some of its peers. Those who aren’t fans of the genre will still likely get plenty out of this issue. Its battles are fantastic, and the dialogue throughout feels natural. The characters feel human, and readers will quickly connect to them as they fight for the city and those they love.
While Ultramega is wonderfully written, the art just about matches the script in every way. All of the fights have a tremendous amount of weight to them. The combatants all feel big in a way that’s hard to convey in this medium. Destruction follows the characters, and every panel is full of graphic detail that sets the tone. One thing that sets Ultramega apart from other works in the genre is how grotesque it is. This is a gory book. Some may be turned away by this take, but it makes for some compelling reading. The gore isn’t just there to shock readers. Everything feels in place, and the gore makes the stakes feel higher for the characters.
Dave Stewart colors this issue. His use of color draws emotions out of the pages. A big part of Ultramega‘s mature feel comes from Stewarts’ use of blues and grays. Everything feels dirty and grimy. The city streets are full of terrified onlookers, and the brown dust from the mayhem around them adds urgency to everything. The red blood and gore always stand out against the grays, ensuring that readers won’t be able to look away from the horrors on the pages.
Ultramega #1 isn’t for everyone, but it’s certainly the most accessible comic in the genre. It feels grown-up, and it’s genuinely terrifying sometimes. It’s unpredictable, exciting, and looks fantastic. Anyone who is remotely interested in the concept owes it to themselves to pick up one of the best debuts of the year so far.
Ultramega #1 isn't for everyone, but it's certainly the most accessible comic in the genre. It feels grown-up, and it's genuinely terrifying sometimes. It's unpredictable, exciting, and looks fantastic. Anyone who is remotely interested in the concept owes it to themselves to pick up one of the best debuts of the year so far.