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Ultimate Comics: X-Men #1

By Julio Angel Ortiz on 23 September 2011

The future has arrived. And it spells doom for the remnants of our favourite band of mutants.

‘Ultimate Comics: X-Men’ #1 is the latest series in the relaunching of the Ultimate Comics universe, and in the aftermath of the events of ‘Ultimatum’ and ‘Ultimate Fallout’, this is a very dangerous backdrop for mutantkind.

Due to Magneto’s attack on New York City and the devastation he wrought, the USA is quarantining mutants in containment camps and have made it legal to shoot any mutant on sight who does not surrender.

Complicating things even further is the revelation that mutants are not the next stage in evolution of mankind, but rather the result of genetic engineering experiment over sixty years ago.

Bereft of their identity and their relationship with the rest of humanity broken, mutantkind faces an extremely uncertain future.

This is the scenario writer Nick Spencer, along with artist Paco Medina, launch the new X-Men series under the Ultimate Comics banner, and it’s a ballsy move.

There are a number of things that make this move so interesting. First, this is the kind of scenario we’ve seen (and has been stated by writer Spencer) glimpsed at – but always pulled away from – in classic X-Men stories such as ‘Days of Future Past’.

Except, in this case, that future where mutants are truly hunted has come to pass. By default it ratchets up the tension in the storytelling several fold. It’s not a crutch, of course, but makes for a provocative place to start the story.

Second, we are seeing a world truly without some of the best-known mutant characters in the X-Men franchise. Professor Xavier, Magneto, Wolverine, Cyclops – all are dead, and yet their presence is distinctly felt in the aftermath of their loss.

More so than Magneto instigating the current circumstances, it also accentuates the failure of Xavier to bring about his dream for peace between mutants and humans. These two were the figureheads for opposite sides of mutant argument- but now what happens when, not only are they both gone, but they were both wrong?

It’s a great premise to kick off this X-Men series, a very 21st century twist on the franchise.

This issue is the first of a long tale. You’re not going to see a ton happen; rather, you witness a number of events spread across the country that will form the basis of the series moving forward, but there’s little in the way of action. It’s a tempered approach to the storytelling that fits; this series is going to have a lot of ground to cover, and you might as well not try to get it all in the first issue.

The writing is solid, if a tad uneven. I find it hard to believe that Jean Grey would reveal her true identity to a stranger, in such a casual manner, even if she is trying to help that woman’s daughter. I also found the conclusion to that scene disturbing (as it was meant to be) but also heavy-handed. I get it, the Magneto symbolism. It just didn’t work for me.

I also found it hard to believe that the secret agents didn’t shoot Pietro on sight. You’re a mutant and you sneak up on the President like that? Seems like a violation of the internal logic already.

And finally, I found Jimmy, Wolverine’s son, to be a bit too much of a chip off the old block. He’s quick tempered and impatient; in short, he comes off as a Wolverine clone, but I’m willing to see where his character goes from here; he doe not have a major role in the first issue.

Medina’s artwork (with Juan Vlasco on inks) is tight, providing nice visuals to a fairly dark story. Although his Human Torch and Iceman, while in their super-powered states, look too similar for my tastes.

‘Ultimate Comics: X-Men’ provides an intriguing setup for the future. If Spencer can deliver on his promise for a layered approach to this storytelling, and the artwork holds up, Marvel will have another winner on their hands.

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By Julio Angel Ortiz

Julio Angel Ortiz maintains his collection of curiosities at You can also Like him on Facebook as well and check out his latest writing projects.

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  1. [...] Earth won’t miss us. *** And here are the articles I have written for other sites this week: Ultimate Comics: X-Men #1 Your.Music.Weekly 9/23/2011 Share this:Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Tagged: [...]