This week on “Previously On,” I finally beat Ultimate Alliance 3, made a weird big list about underrated comics writers and artists, and talk about my son getting his first comic from the shop.
Feature Of the Week –
[Spoilers for Ultimate Alliance 3’s story]
I’ve been playing Ultimate Alliance 3 on and off since it debuted on Nintendo Switch back in July, and finally (finally) beat the game this week. While the game never totally captured the magic of Ultimate Alliance for me, it’s a faithful return to a beloved franchise, and I imagine will offer just as much Marvel Universe indoctrination for newer fans as the original did for myself.
The gameplay is virtually identical to what it was a decade ago, so I’m less interested in describing the experience than the storyline choices.
One of my favorite aspects of the Ultimate Alliance universe is the feeling that you can go anywhere in the Marvel Universe, and Ultimate Alliance 3 does a great job with this. From the dread domain of Dormammu to Wakanda to the hallowed halls of Asgard, so much Marvel territory is covered here. Ultimate Alliance 3 does not shortshrift on the destinations either, particularly as the game comes to a close. There were several moments that I thought “Ah, I see, this is our final landing place,” only to be whisked away to yet another trick up the games’ sleeve.
Speaking of endings, Ultimate Alliance 3 has a very interesting one! For starters, 2013’s Infinity is heavily sourced, including the titular Black Order and Thane, son of Thanos, in full measure. I was prepared for plenty of Black Order – they’re in the title after all! – but I was not totally expecting so much Thane, or how slowly the game was willing to roll out Thanos. The build to Thanos actually takes so long, and is teased so hard, I convinced myself we wouldn’t actually fight the Mad Titan until the inevitable sequel. Instead, though, fighting the Black Order as a mega Boss run is the game’s biggest challenge, followed by a rushed comedown fight with an Infinity Gauntlet wielding Thanos.
The fight with Thanos is really quite odd. The story is clearly in “end game” mode, and I was certainly ready to reach the conclusion by this point, but a fully locked and loaded Infinity Gauntlet has never felt so plain. Of course, taking down Thanos is all prelude to the game’s real “twist,” which is Thane assembling the “Infinity Armor” at the center of the universe. This is wild and cosmic, and ultimately so much more about Thane than I could have guessed. I think I would have preferred a portion of the game similar to the original where we see Doom’s Earth conquered and warped to his vision. Nonetheless, a team-up with Thanos while it suits his interests is right up my alley… now if we could only make him playable.
Credit also goes to Ultimate Alliance 3’s post-credits tease, which is actually quite mysterious! There are two bright star systems that pop up over the heart of infinity, and almost look like eyes. Now, given that we just saw Thanos and Thane ascend to who knows where, my first assumption was that this tease revealed they’re alive and well. My second thought was a potential teaser for cosmic entities like Eternity.
Googling the tease reveals similar ideas, but no real consensus, which is actually cool. My favorite theory suggested these could have been the eyes of the Beyonder, and you know I’m ready for Ultimate Alliance 4: Secret Wars!
What did you think of Ultimate Alliance 3? Worth the wait, or disappointing? Do what feels right to you in the comments!
Comic Book Creators
TREND: The Top 25 Underrated (That Come to Mind)
One of my favorite Instagram accounts (@thecomicbookmemes) reached out recently and asked if I’d be interested in joining / sharing my thoughts on the comic book creators that don’t get enough love. Naturally, this got me in near-instant list-making mode, and through a combination of recent My Marvelous Year reads and a combo through my 100 favorite comics of all time, I pulled together the following 25 names.
I should note, there are loads of creators who likely belong on any such “underrated” list, and I’d personally love to hear your thoughts on who belongs. Next to each creator’s name I’ll also add a short blurb or series that explains why they’re on my list!
- Don Mcgregor – Panther’s Rage!
- Billy Graham – Panther’s Rage!
- Rich Buckler – Panther’s Rage!
- Tom Orzechowski – Lettered Chris Claremont for years and now lettering The Green Lantern by Morrison and Sharpe. A legend.
- Shaky Kane – Bullettproof Coffin is one of my favorite comic books of all time.
- Tony Harris – Starman baby!
- Keiji Nakazawa – Have you read Barefoot Gen? You should check out Barefoot Gen.
- Kagan McLeod – Infinite Kung Fu is so underrated.
- Tyler Boss – Literally couldn’t remember what this pull was from while trying to explain, which is either evidence that Boss is underrated or that I’m a fool (yeah, yeah I know which one too). The artist for 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank!
- Tom Scioli – Significantly less likely to belong after he drops Fantastic Four: Grand Design and blows Marvel minds everywhere!
- Len Kaminski – For some reason I always get Len confused with Terry Kavanaugh. Kaminski writes an extremely underrated 90’s Iron Man, including the iconic debut of the War Machine armor.
- Bill Mantlo – The co-creator of Rocket Raccon, and a Bronze Age staple at Marvel.
- Barnaby Bagenda – Am I the only one looking for more Bagenda after his work with Tom King on Omega Men?
- Brian Clevinger – Atomic Robo, baby!
- Scott Wegener – Atomic Robo, baby!
- Joe Keatinge – Shutter remains one of the unheralded gems from the Image rush of the 2010’s/
- Jason – This probably applies most specifically to superhero fans, but Jason’s output with Fantagraphics is full of brilliant laconic humor. The Wes Anderson of comics.
- Mike Carey – One of the bigger names on my list, mainly included because his substantial X-Men output frequently goes overlooked in conversations about Marvel’s merry mutants.
- Ryan O’Sullivan – After Fearscape I don’t imagine he’ll remain overlooked for long.
- Becky Cloonan – Cloonan’s writing on everything from Punisher to Southern Cross is outstanding.
- Archie Goodwin – A major player in comics, and even Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief for a stint during the late 70’s.
- Kevin Maguire – The classic 80’s JLI is too frequently referred to as the Giffen-Dematteis JLI without Maguire’s inclusion.
- John Higgins – The colorist on Watchmen frequently gets “George Harrison on the Beatles” reactions.
- Jon Davis-Hunt – The Wildstorm, baby!
- Colleen Coover – Bandette is awesome.
- Sana Takeda – Monstress is an unstoppable force, and Sana is a major reason why.
LOVE OF THE WEEK
I hope everyone’s comfortable with CBH morphing into a Dad blog (has it every been anything else?) because I’m back again to cry tears of joy over reactions to my son’s first comic book.
I brought my son to the shop for this week’s pickup (so far he likes finding the following items on comic book covers: Venom, Captain America, Hulk, snakes (thank you, Conan!), dragons, Devil Dinosaur, any other dinosaur, and Thor God of Thunder, yes I taught to say the whole thing), and as I checked out the LCS owner gave him an FCBD Dear Justice League issue for the ride home.
I don’t necessarily want to admit that I couldn’t see the road through my tears as my son explored (and, of course, ripped) his first comic on the ride home, but let’s just say conditions were misty.