Welcome to the 16th installment of Graphic Content and the third in almost as many weeks. We’re returning to the machinations of Alien‘s Weyland-Yutani and the kaiju chaos of Ultramega this time around. I’ve been very critical of Alien‘s first two issues. Can the third issue redeem the series? Will Ultramega continue to impress? Let’s find out.

Alien #3

Alien #3 Cover from Marvel Comics
Ah, a gentle embrace.

Alien #3, continuing an untitled story-arc, takes place immediately after the Xenomorph attack on Gabriel’s woefully small strike team. The previous issue had the team encounter a survivor whom Gabriel seems distrustful of, be it corporate paranoia or deeper. We continue to get a trickle of the backstory of events 20 years prior, emphasizing the role of Bishop, the android. Throw in some ugly alien goats, a double-cross, a surprise character reveal, and you wind up with a fairly decent story.

The writing feels better here. Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s storytelling feels more focused and seems to be leading to something. I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what will happen, but I won’t spoil that here. Predictability isn’t a bad thing, though. If the direction of the comic is what I think is being set up, the series may actually be doing something interesting with the Alien concept. Too bad Gabriel is just so bland as a protagonist, and the surviving marine is just a Hudson-lite.

Salvador Larroca’s art, still, is a huge problem. What should be exciting action scenes feel devoid of motion. Gabriel still looks like Jeffrey Epstein at times, and the Xenomorphs, while technically drawn, have virtually no menace to them. In truth, cover artist Lee InHuyk, who has done the covers for the first three issues so far, would be a much better choice for the internal artwork. At least the covers depict actual menace, motion, and a Gabriel who doesn’t look like a murdered sex trafficker. The coloring by Guru-eFX does a lot of the heavy lifting in creating menace and atmosphere. But the shading style still does not work with the inking style of Larroca.

Bottom Line?

Potentially interesting lore developments have kept me reading past the third issue, my normal “drop point” on a title. The art is still the weakest component of the book and does not make for a pleasant read.

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Marvel’s Alien #3, written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, illustrated by Salvador Larroca, and colored by Guru-eFX, is available from Marvel Comics and your local comic shop.

Ultramega #3

Ultramega #3 cover from Image Comics
Kaiju on the cover may appear larger than in reality.

Ultramega #3 continues the repercussions of the Masked Ultra’s (actually a kid named Noah) actions. Now is sold out by the people of Avalon for his actions against Red Gara, a Kaiju enforcer. Now Noah finds himself in the “Koliseum,” where he must fight to survive wearing an oversized Ultramega head. Beth, dumped in a pit the last issue, encounters a group of not-so-hostile Kaiju. Red Gara, injured and delirious, has his belongings picked through by his underlings. We learn more about the relationship between the Kaiju and Ultramega. This time from the perspective of the Kaiju in their elaborate ceremony.

It’s a fascinating world of Kaiju politics. The monsters are practically humans themselves in their motivations. The grasping and grubbing for power and influence – almost like Game of Thrones. And just like Game of Thrones? Anyone can die.

The series is good, but I’m noticing the pacing is a bit scattershot. The issue breathlessly tosses in developments. Some of these cool moments could benefit from some additional context. I think the writing is fine, and I expect I’ll be getting the explanations I want by issue #4. But honestly? This issue felt exhausting in a way. A lot happens in one storyline, but some characters only get the briefest of check-ins. I think my greatest concern is that we don’t really have a point-of-view character. Someone who is inexperienced or can at least serve as an entry point to the world. Many readers are bound to get lost.

Visually, Ultramega is still a real winner. The art is gory, ridiculous, and the monster designs are incredible. The action is well done. You get a real sense of physics and motion in the panels. Not much else to say here that hasn’t been said in the prior two reviews.

Bottom Line?

Ultramega #3 continues the streak of brilliant storytelling, worldbuilding, and art established in issue #1, but the pacing and number of developments may throw some readers.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Ultramega #3, written and illustrated by James Harren with color contributions by Dave Stewart, can be found at Image Comics and your local comic shop.

Check back later this week as we finally get back to covering the first run of Swamp Thing. Exciting times ahead! I also hope to add a new book into the rotation after we wrap up Ultramega. I may include the most recent Swamp Thing run.

About the Author

David Davis is a writer, cartoonist, and educator in Southern California with an M.A. in literature and writing studies.

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