Ultimate Comics: X-Men #9
By Zak Edwards
March 14, 2012 - 21:39
Here is the very core issue with Ultimate X-Men: The X-Men franchise can and should be about ideas; the power of these ideas, the power of differing ideologies, and the strength and strife that emerges from differences in opinion. Ultimate X-Men is no longer about ideas. Early on, writer Nick Spencer seemed to make the renewed Ultimate X-Men about this and took the deepest rooted ideas of X-Men and gave them, along with some make-up, another looking over. Unfortunately, there seems to be something missing.
If this issue of Ultimate X-Men proves anything, it’s that the book has lost its way. Taking the form of an aside from the main storyline, Spencer wants to look at the camps the United States government has set-up for the mutant populace. The whole thing could have worked as well if the whole thing didn’t turn out to be fairly ridiculous. The camp is fairly stereotypical in its inception: there are bad prison guards who torture prisoners and a completely dissatisfied group of prisoners who are mostly incapable of doing anything. Of course, mutants are capable of doing something, the camp director even mentions this, but we must suspend our disbelief. This disbelief extends to Storm almost immediately, who is being strangely complacent whilst believing the camp director is exactly what he claims, which is a man attempting to do some good with the terrible situation he has. A man trying to set the example for positive mutant-human relations. Unfortunately, buying into his story as he allows torture, kidnapping, and cutting off his “not prisoners” from the outside world entirely, really suggests something else. I can see what Spencer is trying to do, give what is generally a flat character trope some depth, but his balance is along very clear lines of saying and doing. His weak characterization, coupled with the sheer ridiculousness of his reasoning, reflects poorly on Storm, who eventually just gets up and lightnings everything anyways (after shaving her head in what was both a tense moment for a familiar revamped look and a reenactment of the opening scene of Empire Records). It’s almost as if she is breaking out of the bad story and bad plotting and, ironically so, it makes me wonder about the next few issues, if Spencer himself will clean things up or simply let things get worse.
Ultimate X-Men also happens to be the worst looking Ultimate book on the shelf, if not one of the worst period. I can understand the draw of Paco Medina for editors who are more focused on selling books filled with stranger proportions and poses than even the most gifted contortionist porn star, but it really becomes tired very quickly. To his credit, Medina seems to do this less in this issue, but that, I feel, has more to do with the lack of female characters than anything else. Spencer is even distancing himself, the book is quite exposition heavy, needlessly so, to the point that the cracks are showing, as if Spencer doesn’t trust Medina’s art. Even when he is given some space to draw, near the end of the issue where Storm shaves her head, all I could do was wait to roll my eyes as a mohawk Storm emerges. Fortunately, the book hasn’t fallen this far, but the Stacey X (where I believe the ‘X’ stands for “X-Treme Unibrow") character design suggests it’s well on its way. All we have to do is wait.
Grade: D The excitement is gone, the promise unfulfilled, and mediocrity remains.
Last Updated: May 19, 2020 - 12:25
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