Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #143 by Drew Barth
Ripping Through the Future
It’s been a few months since I last talked about James Harren and Dave Stewart’s Ultramega, so I’ll have to fix that. One of the most kinetic series in the last few years, Ultramega’s first issue was the kind of series that wore its influences proudly—from Ultraman to the sentai shows of most millennial childhoods in the 90s—along with a dollop of incredible violence. But what about the rest of the series? As the first volume of the story ends, influences fallen to the side to allow its creators to chart a different path in the Kaiju genre.
The majority of the series, after its first issue, is about how the world is reacting now that the titular Ultramega have been killed and the kaiju that had threatened the world have become minuscule compared to their former, larger-than-buildings selves. The city of the first issue has also been split—a walled-off portion that houses anyone without the kaiju virus that caused people to transform into the beasts, and the Drowned City—the refuge of anyone not allowed in the city, built from the ruins of the final Ultramega battle. Noah, son of the last Ultramega, is captured by a gang of kaiju cultists—humans who worship the remaining kaiju as gods. After nearly dying in a coliseum-esque brawl with multiple small kaiju, he merges with the eye of the first Ultramega to become the first of these heroes in nearly twenty years.
There’s a peculiar thing about Ultramega that Harren and Stewart skirt around for most of the series. The Ultramega and the kaiju have been fighting for as long as the universe has been. Locked in an eternal fight, one can never be totally rid of the other. But without the Ultramega, the kaiju are small—a mere fraction of the selves we have seen. They cannot be born anew from human hosts and don’t seem to be able to infect anyone else. All they do is feed on the blood of humanity in their cults.
As soon as Noah transforms, however, the kaiju return to their full destructive capabilities. Like an immune response, one tries to rip the other apart. But they only ever become horrific when in contact with one another. It’s the kind of detail that has yet to be explored, but it definitely has enough connective tissue with the rest of the story to be explored fully in later volumes.
Even with all of the story in each of Ultramega’s massive issues, there’s still more to be explored in its world. And that just shows the strength of Harren and Stewart as creators. There is so much more going on beyond the panels we see and that just contributes to the living being that a story can become. As we’re only focused on a single story at the moment, there’s more than enough room to go into how the rest of this universe works, what the Ultramega and kaiju are, and just what the world will come to.
Get excited. Get big.
Drew Barth (Episode 331 & 485) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.
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