I have a theory. I think Jeph Loeb signed an exclusive deal with Marvel with the sole purpose of destroying the immensely successful Ultimate imprint. He’s covertly doing some sort of Secret Invasion on behalf of DC.
Jeph Loeb is the Eisner Award-winning writer for several of Batman’s best stories (The Long Halloween, The Dark Victory, Hush arc), Superman For All Seasons and his “colour books” (Daredevil: Yellow, Spiderman: Blue, Hulk: Gray) together with his partnering artist Tim Sale. Thus, he’s one of my favourite writers.
However, since writing exclusively for Marvel, his work in the Ultimate imprint had been less then stellar. “Shitty” is one way to call it.
Cases in point (spoilers abound):
1. Ultimate Power (#7-9)
Next to Ultimate Adventures, Ultimate Power stands as the most useless and unneeded Ultimate title ever. What else did it do besides introducing Squadron Supreme into the Ultimate universe and showing off Greg Land’s copy–paste drawings?
2. The Ultimates (vol. 3)
A lot of wonky and controversial subjects was introduced: an emo Hawkeye sans-bow, Tony Stark’s sex-tape, a Thor smitten with the always near-naked Valkyrie, and Wanda’s too-easy death. The third volume re-imagining The Avengers lacked coherence, and the issues seemed weakly cobbled together to serve as a prologue for…Ultimatum.
Just TWO issues in, Loeb has managed to polarise Ultimate fans. Many considered that the task of writing such a big (first) cross-over should’ve fallen on Brian Michael Bendis or Mark Millar’s shoulders, who laid down the cornerstones of the Ultimate universe. The rest, wished that Wasp shouldn’t have died again…and certainly not by being fucking eaten by Blob.
4. Ultimate Captain America Annual
T’challa is a foolish and mute Wolverine knock-off. Worst, he’s not even a leader. Then we found out in The Ultimates that the Ultimate Black Panther turned out to be not black at all. Obama effect? What Obama effect?
And the last straw for me…
5. Ultimate Hulk Annual
Power Princess. And Ultimate Hulk. Fucking each other. Yes, big boy Hulk, NOT Bruce Banner. With a panel of Hulk saying “Mmm..Hulk like Zarda.” Now try to get that ghastly image out of your mind.
In contrast, Loeb’s recent works in the mainstream Marvel universe include the much-loved Red Hulk and the much-waited Captain America: White.
With only Ultimate X-Men, Ultimate Fantastic Four and Ultimate Spider-Man left to carry on, let’s hope the Ultimate universe does not collapse under its collective popularity—what with these shoddy supports from Jeph Loeb.