Ultimate Captain America was a terrific comic, worth buying in trade. For some of you, your heads are shaking and you’re firing up to drop a comment about what a schmuck I am. Well, if you’re talking purely from a “character” or plot standpoint, I guess I agree with you. There’s not much story here—most of Jason Aaron’s miniseries (now collected in a trade volume) is a standard brainwashing dialog between Cap and his captor, the Ultimate version of Nuke. But think about it from the perspective of the purpose of the Ultimates: New takes on old ideas.
Frank Miller’s Nuke character (and no other version of Nuke is worth reading about) was introduced in the pages of Daredevil (in “Daredevil: Reborn,” one of the greatest DD stories of all time) as a human weapon/drug addict who could be pointed at anything and he’d blow it up. A purely destructive force with a flag on his face. He was the perfect foil for Captain America, who is also draped in Old Glory, but who is also an idealist in the extreme. Between the two characters sat Daredevil, who at that point in his life was an idealist whose ideals had failed him and for whom violent revenge was an increasingly appropriate, attractive option.
In Ultimate Captain America, we see Cap being forced to face some similar hard truths about his government–the issue he wrestles with is whether his country has lived up to his ideals. Nuke is brought in as the epitome of American arrogance and failure. And unlike the obnoxious, chauvinistic Captain America that Mark Millar created in the pages of Ultimates 1 and 2, Jason Aaron’s Ulti-Cap is more nuanced—he has faith in both God and Country (and in that order as well), not just in his own ability to overwhelm his enemies.
So I’m sticking by this series as one of the best examples of how to “Ultimitatize” Marvel characters. Check it out.