Ultra: Seven Days
by Jonathan & Joshua Luna
(Image, 2005)

It's rather like Sex in the City for the superhero set.

Sure, they may be superheroes with glamorous lifestyles, but on their off hours they're just three young women who like to hang together and talk about men, sex and, um, men. A random visit to a fortune-teller sets them wondering what the next week will bring; while changes are in store for Liv "Aphrodite" Arancina and Jennifer "Cowgirl" Janus, it's lonelyhearts icon Pearl "Ultra" Penalosa who is promised true love within seven days.

Set in Spring City, the world of Ultra is one where superheroes are both common and corporate. They may wear costumes, fly around the city and beat up bad guys for a living, but they punch a timecard at the end of the day. And, much like our own fascination for celebrities and their personal lives, these heroes are hounded by paparazzi and tabloid columnists; when one of the girls hooks up for a night of loveless passion, you can bet someone is looking to make money on the pictures.

The Luna Brothers have created a world that, much like Astro City, seems much more real than your average comic-book setting. Grand battles and superheroics happen, sure, but the focus is on the people beneath the leotards -- and it works surprisingly well. The dialogue is relaxed and natural, and the characters feel right -- even to the point of occasional cattiness. You could run into one at a local coffeehouse and easily forget she can benchpress a Toyota ... at least until the first tabloid photographer shows up and spills hot coffee on your lap while angling for a cleavage shot.

Packaged with magazine cover shots and interviews that further ground the world of Spring City in seeming reality, the Ultra collection (issues 1-8 of the miniseries) is a fun romp that sits apart from the average book on your comic-store shelf. Part soap opera, part sitcom, it's a book I really wish would earn an ongoing series of its own.

by Tom Knapp
27 January 2007

Buy it from Amazon.com.