The Ultimate Collaboration?

If you love comics chances are you're a big fan of Stan "The Man" Lee. Creator of some of the most loved comics ever, responsible for being the guy to start and challenge the Comics Code of Authority, still frisky at the ripe age of 83, there is a lot to admire about Stan. That said I can't help but wonder if Stan is feeling frustrated. Recently he's known for what he did create rather then what he has been creating. Spider-Man, Daredevil, Hulk, Fantastic Four, and many of his other creations may be well loved, but they were created during the 60's and 70's. That's a long time ago. It says something that those creations are still beloved, but can you list anything he's made in the last ten years. Chances are not (though I do remember the failed experiment to make the Backstreet Boys superheros). The Powerpuff Girls are more popular then anything Stan's created recently.

That's why, as a fan, I'm excited about "Ultimo." "Ultimo" is a new series of a whole different kind. It's a collaboration between America and Japan. Considering how Japanese comics brought the art of comics back into the spotlight (as well as the black) I'm amazed it took this like for there to be an actual collaboration as opposed to an "American created manga." Well that creation is "Ultimo," written by Stan Lee and illustrated by "Shaman King" creator Hiroyuki Takei. If I were to lay the blame with Stan's recent forgotten series is that they are too eccentric for his own good. The stories may work, but the art, the pacing, and America's ever growing taste for sophitication have made the series feel outdated. And what's with the strange coloring in these series? People don't want color, they want gritty lighting that makes the series "close to black and white but not actually being black and white."

Japanese comics are different though? They survive on the mixture between the well written and the absurd art. Some of the most popular series that come from Japan are "Dragon Ball," "Naruto," "Inu Yasha," "One Piece," "Tsubasa," "Fist of the North Star," and "Sailor Moon." These comics are known for their stories and deep character development, but they are also known for their over-the-top violence and unrestrained art. "Ultimo," while still young (we've only seen the first chapter), promises to be Stan's big come back. He can write the stories he wants to write, and the Takei will draw it in a form that is accepted by people these days. In short it's the perfect match, and I can't wait to see where this goes. On a final note, doesn't "The Master" look a little familiar? Kind of like a comic book legend we all know and love?

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