What a weekend!
Captain Ultimate #1 launched last Thursday (buy it now for only .99 cents!), kicking off San Diego Comic-Con in style. We just got back from the show, and wanted to share our utter gratitude to everyone’s kind words and support these last few days.
Your tweets, letters, reviews, blogs, and everything else mean the world to the whole team! Please continue to tell your siblings, your siblings’ friends, your grandparents and your grandparents’ friends siblings about our book — we guarantee they’ll love it!
We’ll be posting any interviews that we do or reviews we receive here on the site, but since there was so much press revolving around the launch and Monkeybrain’s SDCC presence in general, we thought we’d just round it all up here! If you’re a reviewer or comic journalist, please get in touch — we’d love to chat and pass along review copies!
What’s the long term on Captain Ultimate? Do you have a few arcs planned?Joey: Every time we start talking and planning the next issue, the story gets bigger. It’s really organic and I love that our cast just keeps growing. The series is ongoing, so we’re not in a rush to get anywhere, and we’re not really structuring it in terms of arcs. We want every issue to stand on its own, where as long as you know the general idea behind the series, you’re good to go. We do have plans for big reveals and that kind of stuff, but issue to issue we’re less concerned with advancing the plot than we are with just telling fun stories and seeing these characters interact.
JK: The first issue seems pretty straightforward on the surface — an origin story. I like the simple, refreshing nature of it, that it’s something I could give to my kid when he’s old enough to read … but being an experienced reader I know there may be more to it than what we see in the first installment. Overall what is the tone you’re going for here?
Ben: Captain Ultimate is an all-ages story, no doubt. I hesitate to say it’s a book for kids, because we like to think that everyone can enjoy it, but we definitely conceived as a book kids could read, both in style and content. Tonally, we hope it comes across like the comic version of a Pixar movie. There’s something for everybody and a big emphasis on fun with — I think — some heart.
Joey: Thanks for saying so. That’s exactly the idea, we want it to be accessible for kids and adults alike. I think all of the best “kids” media appreciates that parents often read/watch along with their kids, so there should be something for everyone, whether that’s jokes, themes, or whatever. But this first issue is a pretty good indication of the tone of the series, though judging by what we’ve written so far — we just finished issue #4 — things get quite a bit kookier. So while there are larger ideas and bigger narrative threads at play, I would expect the tone to remain consistent. “Fun” is the key word.
AL: The bulk of the story of Captain Ultimate is told by Milo in the first issue. Will Milo continue to be a major character in the series? What is his relationship with Captain Ultimate?
BB: Yeah, even though the series is titled “Captain Ultimate,” Milo is essentially our main character. His relationship with Captain Ultimate will evolve over time and by the second issue you start to see the direction it is heading.
JE: Yeah, as of issue #2 it’ll be really clear who Milo is to Captain Ultimate. I would even say that the book is almost less about Captain Ultimate as a character — though you certainly see his secret origin and stuff like that — and more about him as an icon, and how his return and what he symbolizes bring out in the people around him, particularly Milo.
How did you guys get hooked up as writing partners?
Ben Bailey: Twitter. Like all important business these days, it happened on Twitter. Joey was tweeting about wanting to rework a public domain character and I said I wanted in. We searched around for a decent character for a bit and then said “screw it, let’s just make our own Golden Age hero!” We just had fun right from the get go, so it came pretty naturally.
Joey Esposito: It was pretty cool, actually. I’d been working with Ben in my day job and knew we got along just fine, but once we started talking story, honestly, I think it really blossomed our relationship in a way. Like, Captain Ultimate is awesome and everything, but I’m more grateful for it for making us closer friends (aw). But yeah, so once we got talking about it, it just flowed really organically.
IM: I could just be grasping at straws here, but Captain Ultimate – the character – looked kind of like a pro-wrestler, with his big mustache and big heavyweight belt. I know Joey’s a huge fan of wrestling, and often compares it to comics. So, is he based on a specific wrestler?
JE: It makes me really happy you picked up on that! No wrestler specifically, and stay tuned for Captain Ultimate’s “secret origin” in issue #3.
IM: What makes you say that comics and wrestling go hand-in-hand?
BB: Before movies could capture super heroes, wrestling really did. You know, there are these clear villains, and clear heroes. It’s stories about Good vs. Bad.
JE: Yeah, and even in the 90s, you saw these flawed heroes like Stone Cold Steve Austin, these kind of anti-heroes that maybe really should have been villains. This is more like 80s era wrestling or the Golden Age of comics: heroes are heroic, villains are villainous.
CA: Art on Captain Ultimate is by Dutch artist Boykoesh. How did it come about that you guys teamed up with him?
Joey: Boy is fantastic. His cartooning skills are just so emotive and fun, I think he really makes these characters shine. I met him through some art he was submitting to a podcast that Ben and I do, and eventually we became friendly and he contributed the art to a story in an anti-bullying anthology I’m helping to put together. After seeing his work, he was the first person we went to and he was totally on board.
Ben: Joey showed me some of Boy’s work and I think we both knew he was perfect for this. Any doubts we might have had were gone the second we started seeing his character designs. It was like instantly “That’s it! That’s Captain Ultimate!” His style is so expressive and animated, perfect for an all-ages book.
Through the eyes of Milo, we are introduced to a hero who isn’t afraid to be both altruistic and more than a little idealistic, and when that attitude clashes with the modern sensibilities of the other vigilantes, the writing manages to avoid any feeling of condescension or tedious moralization.
With more than a few similarities to a world-famous superhero, “Captain Ultimate” might be allegorical or it might simply be enjoyable. Reading the letters page from the creative team of writers Benjamin Bailey and Joey Esposito with artist Boykoesh, colorist Ed Ryzowski and letterer Adam O. Pruett, it becomes a little more clear that this is less homage and more a direct attempt to put some fun back into comics.
It’s full of charm and heart, and takes you back to the good old days of heroes. Captain Ultimate lacks any of the gloom and doom that lingers in the corners of other superhero stories today, and is all about having fun and doing the right thing. If you got kids of your own, sit down and read it with them, and be the ultimate hero in their lives.
“Captain Ultimate” #1 serves a powerful reminder that superheroes were created to engage the minds of children, to give young men and women something to aspire to, and to inspire them to believe in good. An achievement that is one part myth and one part bedtime story, “Captain Ultimate” #1 is a fantastic return to the delightful beginnings of the superhero genre that has captured the imagination of generations.
“Captain Ultimate” #1 is is pure and fun for all ages. With a strong anti-bullying message and an endearing theme about friendship, this is a great way for kids to start picking up comics.
Boykoesh’s art is great for the book as it brings a playful and light feel to the characters and world, something akin to a Saturday morning cartoon. The nice touch of having Captain Ultimate textured differently than the rest of the book, only further playing up his Golden Age origins, really adds to the overall visuals.
There is so much energy and charm in this first issue, Captain Ultimate is clearly in the hands of creators who just want to entertain an audience. Everything has to be edgy, push boundaries, or have something to say about society or the medium. Ben Bailey and Joey Esposito instead are more interested in the Golden Age of heroes when people did good things for the sake of doing them, and heroes did not need to be on the same level as everyone else. There is a place for realism, but every so often it is nice to have something a little more pure.
Comics are fun again. That’s the statement the advertisements for this series from Monkey Brain proclaim. Well, they deliver. Captain Ultimate #1 brings the fun in a big way. Captain Ultimate is a classic Golden Age style hero plugged into a modern day world. He’s been gone for a while, but he’s back. Weird amalgamated ne’er-do-wells beware.
With a strong moral backbone, this issue is about standing up for something bigger than yourself, being brave and most of all it’s about believing in yourself. Thankfully, these aren’t being told as heavy-handed lessons, as Milo is never being patronized by the adults of his world.
Bailey and Esposito didn’t write a game changing comic, they did however write a comic that reminds us fans to question where did all the good people go? They wrote a comic we could introduce to some early readers, one that would open doors to the world of comics. Alas for an all ages comic, “Captain Ultimate” brought back the true essence of “superhero” and that’s what makes it something really special.
The book is scripted and plotted like the opening of a good Pixar movie. We see a character we can relate to, that introduces us to a passion and a problem. His innocent hero-worship of an old fashioned superhero in a world that’s moved past old fashioned. While the exposition of issue one focuses more on the Captain rather than Milo, there’s enough of his bravery in a dire situation to put the audience on his side and make us want more.