When Marvel launched The Ultimates in 2002, one of the company’s goals was to present the Avengers in a more realistic way that was more reminiscent of the world’s current political climate. So the team was converted from a superhero squad led by Captain America into a government-sponsored group funded by Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. Writer Mark Millar and artist Bryan Hitch blew people away with the first volume of the book, but it was in Ultimates 2 that the title reached new heights.

The United States public that once adored The Ultimates had turned on them after the team’s power had seemingly grown out of control, and it was learned that The Hulk was responsible for hundreds of civilian deaths. From there, Thor’s brother, Loki, had assembled a team of super-powered anti-American foes called The Liberators to battle The Ultimates.

What followed was an expertly illustrated and sharply plotted tale of superhero politics that challenged our thoughts on the classic Avengers. There are shades of what Alan Moore and Frank Miller had done with Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns throughout. And while the book doesn’t quite live up to those classics, it succeeds as one of Marvel’s most impressive stories of the new millennium.