Johnny Bullet
Marvel Comics
Ultimate X-Men #98
By Zak Edwards

December 3, 2008 - 14:26

Publisher(s): Marvel Comics
Writer(s): Aron Coleite
Penciller(s): Mark Brooks
Inker(s): Karl Story
Colourist(s): Edgar Delgado
Letterer(s): Albert Deschesne
$2.99 US

For a long time now, Ultimate X-Men has not been the series it once when it was under the guidance of some writers like Mark Millar and Brian K. Vaughan.  The main problems it has had lately is the blatant borrowing and paraphrasing of older story lines, attempting to reiterate something already done over trying to do something new and different with original ideas.  Writer Aron Coleite unfortunately is now falling into the same pitfall, causing the series to drag to its conclusion in February with issue #100.

The reusing of story lines has always been a problem with the Ultimate universe, its too tempting to try and take something classic and remake it over attempting something completely original.  This is why a series like Ultimate Spider-Man is successful and Ultimate X-Men is not, that series avoids this and this series does nothing but reiteration.  For this reiteration, one doesn’t even have to go back that far, only to a few issues in New X-Men which were, funnily enough, also drawn by artist Mark Brooks.  Coleite introduces the Ultimate version of William Stryker, a fanatical christian who sees mutants as an abomination and work of the devil.  The character is exactly the same as the regular one except being slightly younger, which is a tendency in the Ultimate universe anyway.  He then invades the school of the X-Men, outfitted with gear from abandoned sentinels.  If this sounds familiar, its because this is the exact same story presented in New X-Men #24-27. Another thing I find frustrating about this issue is its reliance on a misunderstood section of Christianity.  I am not a religious person, but using a religious text in this way displays a gross lack of understanding.  The verse is the “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” which is a term found in the Old Testament and refuted by Jesus in the New Testament, who discusses an alternative with the “turn the other cheek” concept.  So for Coleite to use this in relation to a radical Christian is both a misunderstanding of the Bible and a lack of respect for the religion of Christianity as a whole.  This, to me, reinforces Cloeite’s dependence on stereotype and the pre-existing character over attempting anything original.  So the issue leaves off disappointing, just when I was beginning to have some faith in the series again.  But Coleite focuses mostly on Rogue this issue, tracing her reaction to the deaths of a couple of her teammates and subsequent exclusion from the team.  He depicts her as a tortured, fragile character who may play an important role in the next two issues before the whole thing ends.  Coleite proves Rogue can carry an entire issue, no small feat considering the past abuses of many of the characters in this series.

Mark Brooks artwork is great in a series like this, his style balances an equal ability to both convey emotion and depict action very well, which this series has both of.  I especially liked his two page spread of Jean Grey relating some memories of Nightcrawler and Dazzler.  The blending of images and lack of panels, with the present on one side and the past on the other works wonderfully.  The page is very busy with plenty going on without becoming overwhelming and thankfully Coleite’s dialogue is sparse to allow for Brooks to express visually what is happening.  His Rogue struck me as different from his usual style, she became much softer in this issue, which was fitting as the issue has a heavy focus on the fragile character.  So while the story is frustrating, Brooks pencils are still nice to engage with.

6/10    The art is good, and Coleite’s Rogue is not a complete failure, unlike most of the rest of the issue.

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