Ultimate X-Men is by no means the best X-Men comic going right now. That is most likely a severely contested title given the taste of those reading. Astonishing X-Men, fresh off of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s run and enjoying the talents of Warren Ellis and Simone Bianchi, is great for character driven, witty drama. X-Men: Legacy is a trip down memory lane for the continuity buffs. Each of the titles Marvel is releasing fits into a different genre to maximize readership. So where does Ultimate X-Men fit in? Well, it doesn’t, but the title is one to watch if you enjoy watching a series rebuild itself and that is just what Heroes writer Aron Coleite, Clay Mann, and Brandon Peterson are trying to do.
Not that they are widely successful, Ultimate X-Men is still in the process of digging itself out of a giant hole left by the last team who turned the once hard-hitting series into a group of thinly veiled retellings of old X-Men stories. They are trying though, that much shines through. The story is dealing with Banshee, a drug similar to MGH for those familiar with the regular Marvel Universe. For those not, it is a drug which gives normal people a temporary ‘high’ of superpowers, and secondary mutations to mutants. Problem is, the drug is highly addictive and ultimately deadly. While the premise is not by any stretch original, MGH has been used countless times in regular Marvel comic books, but Coleite is infusing Ultimate X-Men with some traditional superhero comic devices without rehashing old stories. The story so far is very much in keeping with the older stories, complete with the first issue’s use of dynamic lettering to name the members of Ultimate Alpha Flight.
As for the issue, Coleite has taken this issue to explore Jean Grey as the Phoenix, filling in some of the blanks left between the end of Robert Kirkman’s run and this new one. But the narrative is disjointed and sudden. The switching between present and past has no flow and is completely unrelated to the current story, making it feel like a necessary chore and waste of space than essential part of the story. But Coleite pitting the X-Men against each other works well, with traitors and double crosses creating a very hostile environment, and hostile is just where the X-Men work best. Coleite is getting a grip on both the characters and the story, making this comic a good story to watch.
The art consists of two separate artists, yet Brandon Peterson only draws a few pages somewhere in the middle, making the switch very noticeable. It’s as if Marvel decided to switch artists and not bother to have the new artist do the couple of pages already done. While the art has had varying degrees of success as the series’ writing quality steadily dropped, it seems the art has finally synced with the writing, now getting better with the story. Mann does action very well which serves him as this entire issue is a whole bunch of action sequences. Every panel is filled with things blowing up or lightening or fire or something, but it is all exciting to look at.
7/10 The series is really trying to get back on track.