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Grand Theft America: Ultimates 2 Volume 2    by Mark Millar & Bryan Hitch order for
Grand Theft America
by Mark Millar
Order:  USA  Can
Marvel Comics, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

This isn't the Avengers readers grew up on. Posing the question what would the Avengers look like if they formed today, Mark Millar delivers an action-packed, politically-charged, and deeply complicated series that has been winning awards and fans since its inception. In this second half of its second year run, The Avengers (now renamed The Ultimates) are torn asunder by traitors, enemies, and state actions that send the world lurching into World War III.

The once-mighty Thor, believed to be a god of Asgard, has been arrested and contained, now understood to be a mentally-ill patient who happened upon some fancy equipment. Bruce Banner, the alter-ego of the Hulk has been executed. Wasp is dating Captain America, but feels suffocated by Cap's old-world ways. Their relationship is further strained by her meetings with her abusive ex-husband, Hank Pym, the Ant-Man. Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) is continuing to maneuver and negotiate deals with the government in hopes of increasing profits. But traitors lurk within the Ultimates and when Hawkeye's family is slaughtered and he is taken hostage, they do not know who to trust. Many will be pulled into the cataclysmic battle, and not all will survive. However, beyond survival there's the question of what role the heroes will play in the aftermath. Can the world trust people with such power?

The action and intrigue are nonstop. Millar's plots and subplots are fantastically interwoven with highlights of the Avengers' mainstream history and crossbred with contemporary world politics. He does pose some interesting scenarios for a contemporary world dealing with superheroes. He does a lot to keep his fans guessing and to keep readers intrigued. Unlike the original Avengers who were essentially one-dimensional and eventually developed by Marvel into more complex characters, Millar has the advantage of being able to generate such complexity from the beginning, so that it hooks readers instantly. Hitch is on top of his game with the art, providing great action, coloring, and shading to the story, including a full fold out eight page spread of one of battle scene.

It seems like Millar pulled out all the stops in this concluding chapter to The Ultimates 2. How he will (or even can) follow it up is anyone's guess. His reinvention of the Avengers has turned them from a barely-popular super team (compared to say X-Men) into by far one of Marvel's best teams. Millar does manage to provide some hints at future stories to come that will parallel previous Avengers stories, but with their own unique twist.

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