REVIEW: “The Trials of Ultraman,” Issue #5

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The Trials of Ultraman #5

The Trials of Ultraman #5 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. Following the end of the fourth issue, Ultraman must battle Zumbolar the Walking Inferno and a mechanical kaiju controlled by the Joint Armed Disclosure Front. On a more personal front, Shin Hayata finally confronts his father about their strained relationship, and the nature of Dan Morobishi’s mysterious disappearance is finally revealed.

Much like the final issue of The Rise of Ultraman, Trials wraps up the ongoing storyline and plants the seeds for a new one. The major thrust of the series has been the matter of truth. What does revealing the truth-specifically, the truth about giant alien monsters and the secret society that fights them-do to the world? How would people react to that truth: would they accept it, or come up with outlandish conspiracies because they cannot handle the truth? Like most Marvel series, this issue uses its superheroic and science fiction trappings as metaphors for real-life issues; specifically, one that has been on everyone’s minds due to the COVID-19 pandemic changing our way of life.

Higgins and Groom also pack the issue full of emotion, particularly in the confrontation between Hayata and his father. The reason for their estrangement is finally revealed, and it wasn’t what I expected but it also explains so much. However, Hayata takes a surprisingly mature approach to things and even has another discussion with Ultraman about processing trauma. The trick to approaching this kind of material is to acknowledge the goofier elements of the source material while also figuring out how to fit it into a modern-day concept, and it’s a trick Higgins & Groom have mastered with two Ultraman series under their belt.

Higgins & Groom also pack the issue full of superheroic battles, especially in the first half of the issue. And the art team once again shows that they are more than up to the challenge of bringing those fight scenes to life. Manna draws panels of Ultraman and Zumbolar engaged in battle, with reddish-orange fire leaping from the latter’s spinal plates and the former delivering bone-crushing blows to both Zumbolar and the JADF Kaiju. He even gets the chance to illustrate another character from the Ultraman mythos on the final page, and it’s a genuine surprise. Grudentjean’s color art also helps distinguish the combatants from each other; Zumbolar’s dark brown scaly skin provides a great contrast to his fiery eyes and spine, and Ultraman’s red-and-silver color scheme stands out in the snowy landscape of Iceland. The colors even extend to Maher’s letters; when Ultraman punches Zumbolar, the resulting sound effect has a blue outline, and his word balloons continue to be colored red and silver.

The Trials of Ultraman #5 concludes the second act of Marvel’s Ultraman saga, tackling the concept of truth and delivering massive fight scenes worth the cover price. With the final page setting up another story, I hope these creators continue to flesh out their Ultraman saga for as long as they want.

The Trials of Ultraman #5 is available now wherever comics are sold.

The Trials of Ultraman #5
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TL;DR

The Trials of Ultraman #5 concludes the second act of Marvel’s Ultraman saga, tackling the concept of truth and delivering massive fight scenes worth the cover price. With the final page setting up another story, I hope these creators continue to flesh out their Ultraman saga for as long as they want.