writers: David Greenblatt
and Phil Nibbelink
artist: Phil Nibbelink
(full disclosure: This
book is published by Arcana, which did co-publish The Greatest
American Hero with Catastrophic Comics.)
a book just needs to be a ride, kicking ass and chewing
bubblegum right to the end. Though Ultima Thula has
a few reflections on the costs of being a soldier, they
take a backseat - have to, really - to the main through
line of one man saving his town from an alien abduction.
on, co-writer David Greenblatt reveals his intent by naming
the town judge after Fred Dekker, director of Night of
the Creeps and The Monster Squad If you're going
to do schlock, you'd better be acknowledging some of the
leading lights, and it would be easy to see this book adapted
into a fun mid-level alien movie of the kind I'm not sure
anybody does anymore. But lordy, did those get me through
begins with ex-Iraq Special Forces Jason Battle waking up
on an alien landscape. The sky bleeds red, as does a lot
of Phil Nibbelink's art. Blood, it seems, will be a major
motif, and human blood is of a very high value to these
aliens, in a way that isn't as obvious as it could be.
Haunted by his past, Battle pieces together
memories of both being the town screw-up in danger of losing
custody of his daughter, and of the sudden and complete
abduction of everyone in his small Oregon town. While the
whole thing disturbs him, of most concern to him is that
his young daughter was among them, hammered home by a grub-like
alien offering him her teddy bear.
For reasons not quite spelled out, Battle
has been chosen to upset the status quo on this alien world.
In the wake of a plague, a civil war has broken out, and
somehow Battle carries the key to victory. At least, the
lone survivor of a previous abduction, Harry, thinks so.
(Harry, by the way, needs to be played by Steve Buscemi
in the movie.) Maybe he chose Battle at random out of a
newspaper, or maybe there's something more.
Nibbelink's alien design is both cartoony
and creepy, a race out of Ray Harryhausen's nightmares.
Some of the rebels are almost cute, then the alien overlord
appears, chitinous and yet with the vague outlines of a
As for the bigger picture, Nibbelink has
a great sense of layout. Well, he should, as he spent decades
as an animator for Disney and himself, having directed Fievel
Goes West, We're Back and the CG for Casper.
Thus his humans have a rubberiness to them that comes from
melding animation style with the demands of hard sci-fi
comics. It's not a very mainstream style, feeling more like
a throwback to so-called "underground" comics.
it fits, driving the story forward and occasionally pulling
out some pretty cool images. As for Nibbelink and Greenblatt's
writing, it has a roller coaster feel with twists and turns
that keep you from finding firm ground, but in a good way.
a fan of Heavy Metal, you really should pick up this
book. If you love the work of Dekker, Charles Band or the
Chiodo Brothers, this book is absolutely for you. It's dying
to be a cheesy science fiction movie in the way we haven't
been able to enjoy at movie theaters for too long. Thankfully,
there are books like Ultima Thula to revive that
pleasure for us.
Hey, write to us and
let us know what you think!