Written by JOEY ESPOSITO & BENJAMIN BAILEY/ Art by BOYKOESH/ Colors by ED RYZOWSKI/Letters by ADAM PRUETT/ Published by MONKEYBRAIN COMICS
Captain Ultimate is more than a story about a superhero – it’s a story about us. Writers Joey Esposito and Benjamin Bailey ingeniously camouflage a critique of modern superhero comic books under a sweet story about a kid named Milo who believes in a long forgotten caped crusader.
The story takes place in a city where the world’s most renowned superhero, Captain Ultimate, has disappeared, leaving its safety in the hands of violent vigilantes. Unlike Captain Ultimate, these guys use guns, kill, and use force even when it’s not always necessary.
The neighborhood kids idolize this rogue anti-heros, while Milo sticks to his belief in the ways of Captain Ultimate, and is teased and bullied relentlessly. However, this teasing all stops when a giant alien monster attacks the city, and Milo’s faith is put to the test.
This series questions the stance of modern superhero books, which often rely on grit and ultraviolence to bestow justice.
With a colorful, cartoony art style thanks to Boykoesh as well as fun writing by Esposito and Bailey, this is an all-ages book that fills this gap in the industry. This series looks at mainstream superhero titles, and takes a different path that’s more universal and a perfect gateway for young would-be comic readers. Two things the industry is severely lacking.
With a strong moral backbone, this issue is about standing up for something bigger than yourself, being brave and most of all it’s about believing in yourself. Thankfully, these aren’t being told as heavy-handed lessons, as Milo is never being patronized by the adults of his world.
Milo learns his lesson through Captain Ultimate, as his actions speak louder than Esposito and Bailey’s limited dialogue – which is oftentimes hilarious and serves as the issue’s comedic alibi.
Notable scenes include the issue’s giant monster grumbling about being disappointed, and one of the group of vigilantes named Dr. Brood Warrior, who just broods all the time. Seriously, that’s his shtick – to brood. It’s amazing and shows just how well these guys work together. This includes Boykoesh, whose art style is flexible enough to at one point illustrate three different art styles to depict Captain Ultimate while still maintaining the same cartoony-aura of the book, an impressive feat.
As mentioned before, Boykoesh’s art is cartoony and kid friendly. Unfortunately, this doesn’t account for wonky anatomy, and his buildings are off perspective-wise in panels. One scene that’s hard to look at includes a comic store owner who is apparently leaning over the counter at a chatty boy. However, due to the lack of craft in Boykoesh’s art, to determine these positions relies on guesswork. While it may not be something a kid would notice, it does distracts from the story for those who do.
Captain Ultimate is just like your favorite cereal as a kid. Sweet, crunchy, and after you’ve slurped up the sugary-tasting milk there’s still a prize at the bottom of the box. That prize being that this book is only $0.99 on ComiXology. Yes, this issue costs less than a can of soda, and with all the heart it holds it’s a steal. Buy it, read it, and then share it with your kids. It’s worth it.