“Mutants are outlawed. Washington is decimated. The government is a mess. The Southwest is in chaos. States are seceding from the union. America is falling apart. Divided We Fall.” That pretty much sums up the current storyline running through Marvel Comics’ Ultimate Universe. Things are bad for mutants, racism is at an all-time high, the religious right is way too powerful in its influence, and every single modern progressivist’s fear has come to pass. America is regressing and not only are the evil superheroes to blame for it, we are. All of these topics are relevant and worthy ones, but the only problem is that if you’ve read anything by Brian Wood over the years, he rarely strays from these topics and somehow applies them to every book he writes (with the biggest exception being his late, great Northlanders which took on much more thematically than just the conservative evils of the world).
While I love Brian Wood’s work, he does sometimes have the tendency to hit one over the head with the progressive hammer so to speak. Granted he’s inherited the current Ultimate Comics storyline, but one gets the feeling that we’re in for another thick dose of heavy handed politically progressive theorizing once again. (Please note though, politically progressive theorizing is something that I completely love about Wood’s work-I just think he’s doing it better, i.e. more intelligently and subtly, over in X-Men).
The Ultimate line of Marvel Comics was created to breathe new life into while simultaneously updating and making more realistic Marvel Comics’ characters. The only problem was that Ultimate Comics ended up being even more popular than the old Earth 616 continuity and subsequently had to be broken down. Now most of the main characters are dead or replaced by stand ins, and the world of Ultimate Comics is more a dark reflection of our world rather than a truer reflection of it. The main Marvel 616 continuity is striving to be that truer mirror now, which means that talented writers like Wood can really cut loose with what they want to write and say…even if they’ve said it more poignantly elsewhere.
Ultimate X-Men is a good solid, and yes it is an importantly progressive read (despite all I’ve said about it negatively here), but I wonder how long after the resolution to “Divided We Fall” interest in the series can be kept up where most of the most recognizable X-Men are unavailable simply because they’ve been killed off…