The Rise of Ultraman #1 was a fantastic start to a new sci-fi endeavor from Marvel Comics. It did the work to show us a well thought out world, introduced some fresh-faced and fun characters, and then dangled a cliffhanger in our faces you wouldn’t want to turn away from. Ultraman entered the story only at the end, but it’s time to dig in this week as Francesco Manna, Kyle Higgins, and Mat Groom put the “man” in “Ultraman.”
The Rise of Ultraman #2 juggles Ultraman and Shin communing within their minds while Kiki and Captain Muramatsu race to find answers to help Shin before he dies. The pace is breakneck when it comes to the Kiki plot as they uncover secrets and fly by the seat of their pants attempting to not get killed. Meanwhile, there are some deeply meaningful and interesting ideas at work with Shin. These elements combine into a highly enjoyable package that informs while also entertaining.
The coolest aspect of this issue is how it builds on Ultraman lore. There are some fascinating multiverse details relayed here that change the way you’ll think about Ultraman. It’s also an inspiring story — typically, we think of Ultraman as a giant robot looking dude who fights equally giant monsters, but it’s quite clear there’s a meaningful collaboration in the works. These bigger ideas make flashbacks to Shin’s past pale in comparison, but they do hint at a mystery worth investigating.
Writers Higgins and Groom establish both sides of Ultraman and Shin in a way that’s believable and interesting. So far Shin hasn’t been the best guy, but he’s got a good heart and wants to do good things. Paired with Ultraman, this alien entity that wants to save humanity, and the dynamic seems evident. As the story progresses through, the writers tug out a new direction for each character and true unity is necessary.
There are a lot of visceral visual elements at work in this story that help convey the mind-meld at work, from the dreamlike nature of Ultraman and Shin floating above the ground to streaks of light that envelop the characters. Each scene is set so well thanks to the use of colors by Espen Grundetjern mixed with the layers of foreground and background melding together. You can see it in an angelic forest Shin and Muramatsu drive through, as if their drive is anything but dangerous. The blending of background and foreground helps maximize dynamic range through much of the work, creating a sense of depth and drama in the slightest of scenes. There’s also some cool use of lens flare if you’re paying attention.
After a wonderful first issue, The Rise of Ultraman #2 puts the pedal to the metal and doesn’t look back. It blends ambitious ideas with gorgeous visuals in a slick sci-fi package.