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​​​​​​​Captain Ultimate: The Return (Soup Dad Comics, 2014; #1-6)

Fact: too few superheroes have mustaches.

Captain Ultimate, once the world’s greatest hero, has been gone for years.  His exploits are legend to some, forgotten by others.  But a boy named Jude heard all the stories of the Mustachioed Marvel’s heroics from his father.  So when a monster attacks, Jude rushes in to save his friends.  And in doing so, he witnesses the Captain’s return—and earns his place as sidekick-in-training.

Two goals seem to drive Captain Ultimate: to put more fun, all-ages comics on the shelf; and to tell the story of an aspirational hero devoid of grimdark reboots or X-TREME baggage.  And good news:  Bailey and Esposito do both of these things.  A clear love for comics—and exhaustion with the trappings more cynical elements of the comics market—pervades the book.

To that end, Akkerman and Ryzowski’s pages are bright and energetic.  They’re not afraid to be bold and cartoony.  And they stick to clear, straightforward layouts that make the story easy to follow on the page—which is important for a book that you could share with a kid as their first comic.

There aren’t a lot of all-ages comics out there, and even fewer are unique IPs that have nothing to do with a cartoon or toy or something else merchandisable.  But Captain Ultimate checks all those boxes, and it’s fun.  And even though I’m not a kid, when I reached the end of the trade, I wanted more.

Collected in

  • Captain Ultimate, Vol. 1: The Return (#1-6)

Writers: Benjamin Bailey, Joey Esposito | Artist: Boy Akkerman | Colorist: Ed Ryzowski | Letterer/Designer: Adam Pruett

​​​​​​​Saucer Country : The Reticulan Candidate (Vertigo, 2012; #7-14)

​​​​​​​Spider-Man: Reign (Marvel Comics, 2007; #1-4)