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Hot Ink — ‘Ultimate Spider-Man,’ ‘Incognito,’ KHAAAAAAN

Previews of the books coming out today that we can’t wait to pull off the shelf.

WISHING A GREAT SUMMER TOUltimatum Spider-Man Requiem #1.” Goodbye is a simple word that can carry more weight than any other in the English language. But not all goodbyes are the same. Marvel’s currently in the process of saying farewell to its line of Ultimate books in much the same way a five year old says goodbye to the sandcastle he’s built over the course of a lazy afternoon at the beach: unabashed gleeful destruction.

“Ultimatum Spider-Man Requiem #1″ promises to show how Peter Parker, currently missing and presumed dead as a result of said carnage, is remembered by those who knew him in life. In the unlikely event that Parker actually is dead, it may only be temporary. Superheroes’ grave markers tend to be written on a dry erase board rather than chiseled in stone, and with the new Ultimate Comics line soon to launch with “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1,” this won’t be the last we’ll see of Parker.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t the potential for moving, tearful goodbyes from the characters who truly believe that Spider-Man is gone. But as far as goodbyes go, this one’s less a last farewell, more of a “take care, enjoy the time off, see you when school starts again in the fall…”
NOT KEEPING A LOW PROFILE ABOUT HOW IMPRESSED I AM BY Incognito #4.” The stone-cold killer bad guy turns gruff, anti-hero good guy. The superpowered individual has to try to live a normal life and can’t hack it. The criminal who left the game and went underground pops his head up again only to have all his buddies turn up and try to separate that head from his shoulders. All of these are stories that have been done before again and again, but I can’t say that I’ve ever seen any of them done together and done as well as Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ series, which releases its fourth issue this week. Zack Andersen, formerly supervillain henchman Zack Overkill until he turned witness protection, can’t deal with being an ordinary human being. And yet he deals with the return of his suppressed superpowers in a human, honest way, one that’s full of flaws, selfish, and yet not without some pangs of conscience seeping their way in no matter how much he’d like to keep them out. It’s exhilarating not knowing whether you’re still going to be rooting for him the next time you turn the page.

BELIEVING THE STAKES INRed Mass for Mars #3.” Jonathan Hickman and Ryan Bodenheim’s superpowered sci-fi miniseries has set an intriguing stage in the first two issues. An ominous mood falls over the piece from almost the first moment, as a man able to see the future is convinced that no matter how powerful the heroes he assembles are, they’re destined to fail against the invading alien horde on its way to destroy the Earth. Most of the time when the fate of the world is at stake in a work of fiction, it’s obvious that things are going to end with the heroes victorious and the day saved. But here, there’s tension. You can’t help but come away with the feeling that this may be a situation where the lost cause really is lost, and the infinitesimal hope for salvation really is too insignificant to be of any good. And that victory, if it comes, will be at a terrible cost and achieved through great sacrifice. It’s fascinating to watch the characters deal with this reality after seeing it done so many times in more traditional comic titles in a way that can’t help but feel inauthentic.

CATCHING UP WITH MY OLD FRIENDStar Trek: Wrath of Khan #2.” I know, I know. You’re saying to yourself: Really? A comic version of a “Star Trek” film from 1982? But keep in mind, this is, at least until recently, the obvious choice for the best feature film of adaptation of “Star Trek” ever to be made. And I can tell you why you should read it in one word. And for that word, I turn you over to Mr. William Shatner himself for one of the most imitated, iconic lines in a franchise that has lasted for over forty years now.

You know you’re curious if the graphic novel adaptation is going to do that one moment justice. And you know that whether it does or not, you’re not going to be able to resist the urge to read along out loud in your best Montalban & Shatner voices. Given that the line comes in the latter half of the film and this is issue two of a three part series, that moment will be seeing print either now or in two weeks, so go grab it. Sure, you can go read an a book based on something coming out this summer, but have you ever stopped to consider the possibility that comic book adaptations might be a dish best served cold?

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