ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘The Trials of Ultraman,’ Issue #1

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Trials of Ultraman #1 - But Why Tho?The Trials of Ultraman #1 is written by Kyle Higgins & Mat Groom, illustrated by Francesco Manna, colored by Espen Grudentjean, lettered by VC’s Ariana Maher, and published by Marvel Comics. In addition, the issue also contains two backup stories, both written by Higgins & Groom. “Kaiju Steps” is illustrated and colored by Guruhiru, while “From Rise To Fall” is illustrated by Eduardo Ferigato and colored by Marcelo Costa.

After the events of The Rise of Ultraman, the United Science Patrol has gone public and told the world about the existence of Kaiju, which leads to suspicion and skepticism from the world’s citizens. Meanwhile, Shin Hayata continues to battle Kaiju as Ultraman, though the pressure is getting to him.

This series reunites Higgins, Groom, Manna, and Grudentjean. The creative team previously worked on The Rise of Ultraman and as a result, this feels less like a debut issue and more like issue #6 of an ongoing Ultraman series. However, that’s a bug and not a feature due to how Higgins and Groom’s script tackles the thorny wrinkles of a super-secretive organization revealing itself to the world. Also given equal weight: the massive Kaiju battles that Ultraman engages in and Hayata wondering if he should reveal himself to the world or not. And the series also sees the return of the character dynamics that came to define The Rise of Ultraman, particularly the conversations between Ultraman and Hayata. It also follows an age-old tradition where Ultraman doesn’t quite have a grasp what metaphors.

Manna wastes no time in getting into the action, as the issue features an underwater battle between Ultraman and the massive Kaiju Pestar. As befitting its name, Pestar is shaped like a starfish but has a horrifying bat-shaped head and fangs the size of an SUV. Manna also gets the chance to draw another one of Ultraman’s trademark abilities: the “Ultra-Slice.” Under his pencils, it takes the shape of a fiery halo of energy, with Grudentjean coloring it the same bluish-white hue as Ultraman’s specium ray.  She also uses a light blue color for the sea setting, which makes Ultraman’s red-and-silver suit stand out like a shining beacon.

The issue also sees the return of the “Ultra Steps” comic by Gurihuru (and the adorable Kaiju mascot Pigmon), while “From Rise To Fall” reunites Groom with his Self/Made creative team of Ferigato and Costa. Ferigato illustrates an alien landscape that features violet-skinned natives, with one of them even taking up a mysterious blade to defend their home. Higgins and Groom write the story as if it were a fantasy tale, complete with Maher presenting the narrative in caption boxes that look like scraps of parchment. The ending hints at a less than stellar fate for Ultraman.

The Trials of Ultraman #1 returns to the Ultraman universe its creative team has set up, featuring new challenges for the titular Tokusatsu hero. With the ending touching on another thread from The Rise of Ultraman, Ultra fans are in for more Kaiju-filled action and new takes on elements of the Ultraman mythos.

The Trials of Ultraman #1 will be available on Wednesday, March 17 wherever comics are sold.

Trials of Ultraman #1
4.5

TL;DR

The Trials of Ultraman #1 returns to the Ultraman universe its creative team has set up, featuring new challenges for the titular Tokusatsu hero. With the ending touching on another thread from The Rise of Ultraman, Ultra fans are in for more Kaiju-filled action and new takes on elements of the Ultraman mythos.