Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ultra: Seven Days

If superheroes were real, they would surely be celebrities and perhaps they would also need to be deputized so they could work within the bounds of the law. This scenario is what frames this trade paperback detailing the exploits of Ultra, whose real name is Pearl Penalosa, a Latina superhero celebrated for her brave fight against crime and for her upright demeanor. She is held as a role model for teen abstinence, and her squeaky clean image comes under fire over the course of the story from a tabloid expose. Ultra is depicted as an everyday person. She has an uneasy relationship with her mother and also wonders why she can't find a good guy to date.

The narrative weaves together disparate features of Ultra's life, showing her on duty fighting threats and also at home in her civilian life. The title of the collection comes from a night out with her superheroine friends. Ultra is with Cowgirl (who is a humanitarian, like a super-powered Angelina Jolie) and Aphrodite (who embraces the wild side of celebrity life and is more like a supermodel), and they decide to stop at a fortune teller. She tells them that within the week Ultra will find true love, Cowgirl will receive what she has given, and that Aphrodite will suffer a great loss. If and how these predictions occur is woven through rest of the story, which also follows the heroines contending with a super-arsonist who is terrorizing the fictional metropolis of Spring City.

Seven Days was originally released as an 8-issue series by Image Comics. It was written and drawn by the Luna Brothers, Joshua and Jonathan, graduates of the Savannah College of Art and Design with BFAs in Sequential Art. It was the first series they created, and it incorporated lots of great touches to situate the story in a media-driven world. The covers of each issue are parodies/homages of publications such as Time, Maxim, Rolling Stone, and Star Magazine. Additionally, glossy magazine-type ads and the back matter articles of each issue ape these real-world publications.

Reviews of the book are mostly on the positive side, but do not appear overly gushing. Hilary Goldstein called it "a perfectly contained story that introduces a new world of superheroes that is immediately familiar and comfortable." Stephen Holland is attracted to the "sheer good will" of the book. Other reviewers, such as Alexander Zalben thought the book was attractively drawn but slow plot-wise.

A preview containing the entire first issue of the series is available here.

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