How do you solve a problem like Galactus? By finding something from the beginning of the universe.
It's only two issues in, but The Ultimates is already the most exciting book in Marvel's new All-New, All-Different line-wide relaunch. That's because they're confronting Galactus, one of the most implacable characters in the publisher's fictional universe. Last month's first issue teased a change in approach with regard to this particular encounter with the Devourer of Worlds: the Ultimates are treating Galactus as a conundrum, not a foe.
So that's meant not waiting for the big guy to show up in low Earth orbit again. After gathering the tools they need, the Black Panther, Blue Marvel, Captain Marvel, Miss America and Spectrum knock on Galactus' doorstep and refuse to get brushed off. They're going to fix Galactus whether he wants it or not.
The key to the Ultimates' plan rests in the team's interpretation of Galactus. Galactus isn't just a cosmic entity akin to a force of nature. He started as a man who then became a cosmic entity akin to a force of nature. The flashback sequences in this week's issue #2 showcase one of the most notable elements of the Ultimates so far.
Mirroring the origin of the Fantastic Four, the look back at Galactus' origin invokes and modernises the classic Stan Lee/Jack Kirby feeling found the Silver Age Marvel Comics of the 1960s and 1970s.
The team's broadcast of the plan to the entire world may seem like a bit of showy posturing but I read it as a complete 180 degree turn from T'Challa's time with the Illuminati. As chronicled in New Avengers, that consortium of super-geniuses were trying to save the world in secret, with means that were morally indefensible. This team is out in the wide open.
There's a sense of scale and scope to the Ultimates that's refreshing. It's taking the spot that the Fantastic Four once held in Marvel's line-up without feeling like a retread of the Richards family. Indeed, the way that T'Challa and company fix the Galactus problem comes across as far more daring that anything Reed might attempt. The artifact that Spectrum and Ms Marvel retrieved was the birth matrix that turned the man named Galen into the force known as Galactus.
With his advanced Wakanda technology and the raw power of his teammates, the Black Panther essentially hacks Galactus. The being that once drained planets of their life force is now doing the opposite...
This will likely screw with the cosmic order of things. But that consequence — and the drama that follows — is the reason that most Marvel fans should be reading the Ultimates.