Ultra: Seven Days (Ultra Seven Days Tp) Paperback – 2 Oct 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
This eight issue tale takes its time spinning an enthralling web of love and heartache for its central character. With three female leads and barely a man in sight you get to see a unique story unfold. This isn't a patronising chick-flick but a clever, funny, emotional rollercoaster that really stands out in the machismo filled world of comics.
The dialogue is superb and you could easily strip out the hero aspect and just have it as three everyday women living their lives. The first issue mentions nothing about heroes and allows us to get to know our heroines as people. The spandex edge does add an extra layer of depth however and brings added spice to this very human tale.
The art is superb, wonderfully capturing the thoughts and feelings of these women. The digital trickery is used sparingly, mostly for motion blur and artificial focus, but there is one genius reflection example fairly early on. There are almost no pure primary hues anywhere in this book. All the colours used are complex blends creating tones that echo the emotional feeling of the scene they illustrate.
Each issue cover is done in the style of a genuine magazine as is the inside cover contents/ credits page. There are also text articles and fake adverts reminding me of the Powers series by Brian Bendis. This book has a lot to say about the media and celebrity and trumpets its message visually and ideologically in a very mature and sophisticated way. Some of the text can get a little small and the prose insertions do slow things down but nothing can spoil this elegant tale.
Boy is this ever a Double Thumbs Up!
The story is about three girls living in a metropolis where super heroes are a product, they are the celebrities of this world with all the tabloid press hovering & waiting to pounce. There isn't much action or big explosions or people dying but I tell you what this book does grab you and you enjoy every minute.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
We meet Pearl Penalosa AKA Ultra. She is one of the most popular heroes in the world with millions of fans and admirers, a female version of Superman if there ever was one. She's even been nominated for Heroine of the year in a red carpet event as illustrious as the Oscars. She puts her duty before her own personal life. Pearl is out on the town for a night of fun with her friends Olivia and Jennifer (Also heroes known as Aphrodite and Cowgirl respectively) The trio pay a visit to a local fortune teller who looks every bit like a charlatan to get their fortunes told. It's there they learn that Ultra, always unlucky in love, will meet her true love within seven days.
Pearl thinks the whole fortune-telling thing is pure nonsense, until she meets a regular guy that she falls head over heels in love with. Taking him into her confidence, although her real identity is out in the open as most heroes are, she has a steamy night of passion with him, only to find that he was a paid stooge, selling his story to a sleazy tabloid publisher, destroying Ultra's untainted reputation in the eyes of her legions of fans. Her agency immediately goes on damage control as her boss gives her the "I told you so" speech when it comes to watching who she associates with.
Pearl now finds herself ostracized by the public and subject to taunts and insults from the people who once adored her. This leads to an ugly verbal fight between her and Olivia. On top of all of Pearl's personal problems, a new and very deadly villain has hit town. A superhuman pyro-kinetic who is using his powers to set devastating fires all over the city and taking a number of superheroes down who try and stop him. Ultra now has to pull herself together and forget her personal troubles to try and take down this threat before more people are killed.
Ultra is a Superhero book, certainly, but the Luna brothers have constructed a Superhero book with dysfunctional characters that would make Stan Lee green with envy. Pearl is a workaholic hero obsessed with her clean image to the point of virtually having no private life. Olivia (Aphrodite) is an admitted nymphomaniac, unable to commit to a stable relationship. Cowgirl is naïve and insecure, always following the lead of others. Throughout the book the Luna brothers gives readers great renditions of faux advertisements and newspaper/magazine articles featuring their heroines doing ads for products like "Levy's jeans" and other well-known product parodies. This helps bring the reader into this world of heroes as media shills and it's very well done.
The plot is not action-packed...there are only a handful of fights. This is not a superhero tale about action but rather the flip-side of being a hero. In many respects, the real lives of these heroes are the masks they hide behind and they escape into their super personas to get away from their troubled, and often mundane private lives. This was my first exposure to the work of the Luna brothers and I am very impressed. Despite the lack of action, they pace the story well and it's never dull. Their minimalist art was also a welcome reprieve from the typical in-your-face, splash page-heavy art of many of their contemporaries.
Reviewed by Tim Janson
The artwork here is pretty intriguing at first glance. These are beautiful women, but they aren't drawn to resemble the slick and oft unrealistically portrayed superheroines of Marvel and DC. They're real women with real proportions and facial features. I really loved this because although I do like looking at the handsome men and lovely women in the mainstream comics, it's nice to see someone NOT do this and have it feel natural and effortless in the process.
Story-wise, this was great. I've liked the idea of focusing on the human side of superheroes ever since I read Noble Causes years ago. That the story is interspersed with several ads and covers to give it that magazine feel really gives it a bit of an edge. It's a clever gesture and one that helps hammer in the surreal feel and give information about the characters without having to give a lot of back story. The only downfall here is that occasionally the tale gets a little predictable. I'm specifically thinking about Jen, although perhaps that was done on purpose?
This all wraps up cleanly enough for the most part and although it wasn't quite a 5 star reading experience for me, it was pretty darn close. It won't be for everyone, such as those wanting a lot of fighting or a fast paced story line, but for those looking for a relatively undiscovered indie gem, this is the book for you.
ULTRA: SEVEN DAYS is different and original and will appeal to those who normally don't read comic books. It centers around Pearl Penalosa, a Hispanic career girl, her career that of being a superhero. Pearl Penalosa patrols Spring City as the mighty Ultra, and this is the sort of universe where flashy crimefighting will land a vigilante a deal with a prestigious PR agency. Her contract with Heroine, Inc. has garnered Pearl heaps of glossy media pub and enviable celebrity status. I mean, Ultra is the main spokeswoman for name brands like Cool Cola and Levy's ("ridiculous low jeans").
Heck, even the fake magazine articles and adverts are a hoot. Not to mention, they flesh out the characters even more with some much-needed back stories.
There's something very appealing about Pearl who is very down-to-earth and a workaholic. She hasn't let fame and fortune go to her head; her nomination for "Best Heroine of the Year" isn't a distraction. She's a fine role model. Pearl for sure isn't as extroverted as her two best friends, sexy model-turned-superhero Olivia Arancina and adorable blue-blooded debutante Jennifer Janus, also known to their adoring public, respectively, as fellow superheroines Aphrodite and Cowgirl. Our story begins with these three girls on a night out on the town. On a whim, they visit a fortune teller who divines a different fate for each girl, each prophecy to come to pass within seven days. For Pearl, the soothsayer promises true love. Pearl Penalosa - level-headed and practical - brushes it off. And then the Luna Brothers work their magic.
ULTRA: SEVEN DAYS isn't your typical superhero story, no. Even though there are the occasional fighty fights. Mostly it focuses on Pearl's personal life. But it's interesting how the Lunas depict Pearl's superhero gig as her actual day job as opposed to, say, a night hobby. In this world, there's pretty much no such thing as secret identities. And so there's nothing to stop the media from digging into a hero's past and airing out the sordid dirty laundry. Pearl, a high profile superhero, merits her own fickle paparazzi. And then comes one moment in which Pearl lets her guard down.
I hope the Luna Brothers blow up big soon, because the world is really missing out. The narrative has this wonderful organic flow to it. Joshua Luna has an impeccable ear for dialogue, funny and clever, honest and on point. It's a pleasure to observe these characters interacting with and among each other. I like that Aphrodite and Cowgirl are also written with depth. Even Pearl's ex - who only shows up for a mo- is a three-dimensional person.
As mentioned, there are fighty fights, and there's even a last minute nemesis. But all that's just lip gloss. The Lunas don't really even bother to go into detail regarding our heroines' power sets (we quickly learn, though, that Pearl's friend isn't the actual goddess of love). I was more concerned about Pearl's personal dramas. She does meet a guy - a normal guy - and begins to foster a relationship with him. She even begins thinking that the stupid prophecy may be true after all. Except the Luna Brothers aren't about to dole out obvious answers or easy resolutions. That may be what I like best about the Luna Brothers. They guide you down unexpected pathways.
The Luna Brothers, with a satiric eye, have created a vivid, intriguing world in which sanctioned vigilantism and glitzy celebrity can go hand in hand. And don't sleep on Jonathan Luna's deceptively simple yet evocative visuals and the effectively muted color palette he applies. The man's art-fu, it is strong.
However, another good reason is the humor! I laughed out loud so many times reading this book... It's a mature humor, often sexual without being crude. Certainly not something for younger readers, so be aware of that if you're planning on buying it for someone else. But it truly is some of the funniest, smart humor I've seen lately. The "ads" are hilarious. The "articles" on the superheroes are hit and miss, but mostly hit. Aphrodite's interview is by far the best of the lot and a brilliant piece of writing, which harkens back to the obvious strength of the Luna brothers--their dialogue.
The art is modern, computer fair, but gorgeous just the same. Probably one of the best examples of what modern techniques can do. It has a photorealism as if there is a camera filming with some shots of the foreground in focus and the background not, and vice versa. It works most of the time, and where it doesn't isn't a big deal. If that look isn't a favorite of yours, I would still suggest giving the book a try. It's that good, and it might even win you over.
The plot is interesting, and comes with its own twists, which are well done. It moves along at a good pace. I read it all the way through when I got it, which to me means it has that reader quality of wanting to find out what happens next. Some of the plot elements don't exactly break new ground, but the characters are so convincingly real and sympathetic, it adds a new dimension to the story regardless.
I would have liked to see more of Ultra doing her job as superhero, but what is shown is great.
Overall, I can tell you I'm very pleased I bought this work and hope more people do. It's a great value on Amazon, and these guys are far too talented to not be read more widely.