6.10.09

Ultra: Seven Days

Are the Luna Brothers the Great White American Hope for the comic-book industry? Probably not. But the fact that my brain has even cobbled together this idea says something about the work these guys are producing.

Ultra is their first mini-series, and already they display storytelling ability of some sophistication. Cliffhanger pages that rival anything Brian K. Vaughan can come up with. Dialogue that doesn't quite zing with Whedon wit, but engages all the same. More importantly, Joshua Luna is a master at crafting those awkward social moments that are a regular recurring feature of my life. He totally nails it, and I should know. He also has the rare ability to build conversations up into striking moments of epiphany. The last two issues in this collection are particularly brilliant examples of this. They take little details of everyday life and put them together in such a way as to transform them into something eternal and beautiful. It's a mesmerizing feat.

From storytelling on to theme. Ultra isn't really about superheroes. It uses superheroes to talk about celebrity. The fun it pokes at magazines and adverts isn't anything original, but it does elicit several laughs. More important is the conversation between our protagonist and a fellow friend in the superhero business:

'They don't see the real us, they only see a face on a magazine, a pair of tits on a billboard -- abstractions. We're like... Rorschach inkblots, open to every dumbass interpretation.'

All very well and good as a comment on celebrity culture. But what makes these words especially significant is that they are spoken by a fictional superhero. Are the Luna Brothers providing a sneaky comment about the way we read fiction, particularly superhero fiction? Are they pointing out the disconnect between what a reader sees in a particular work, and what the creator puts into it?

Or maybe I just need to get Grant Morrison out of my head...

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