Founded in 2000 with the debut of Ultimate Spider-Man, the Ultimate universe was always intended as a continuity free entry point into the Marvel Universe. Characters and origins were updated to feel as if they were created in the 2000’s, and many of the movie properties of Marvel took several ideas and storylines from the Ultimate Marvel universe. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, the Ultimate Universe became confusing and has been rebooted not once, but twice in ten years! Let me say that again, twice in ten years. Even with all the odds stacked against it, Ultimate Comics X-Men #1 turns out to be a decent issue.
Peter Parker, the Spider-Man, is dead. Wolverine, Cyclops, Professor X, and Magneto are also in the ground. This ain’t your papa’s Marvel Universe. The issue begins with a scene that could have been ripped out of an X-Men movie. Karen Grant a.k.a. Jean Grey, who has changed her name for safety reasons, visits the parents of a little girl who has just discovered she is a mutant. Karen discusses options with the mother while the father of the little girl is upstairs with her.
I won’t spoil the ending of the scene, but it is heartbreaking and immediately gives the issue a dangerous tone. Mutants are being hunted harder than ever. People wear Magneto-like helmets so that mutants can’t read their thoughts, and a Pentagon press conference reveals that mutants were created by the government. They are not the next stage of human evolution. Rogue gets chased by some sentinel-like robot. While Iceman, Kitty Pryde, and the Human Torch, he joined their cause in the pages of Ultimate Spider-Man, decide to rescue her. In captions, we see Kitty give a monologue supposedly from the future saying, “And this is the story of how I became the most hated, and feared terrorist in the history of the United States.”
The tone of this issue is dark. Danger seeps through every panel, and I actually like it. One of my biggest problems with the X-Men storyline is that I never really felt they were in much of a world that hated and feared them. Most of the time, it seemed as if the world tolerated them as long as the X-Men stayed off their lawn. Ultimate X-Men #1 shows us a world where it’s truly dangerous to be a mutant. It’s dangerous to be a human, because the mutants can attack you at any time. It’s just plain dangerous. Nick Spencer sets up an intriguing hook that has made me want to read issue two while Paco Medina’s cartoony art almost seems too jokey for this serious subject matter.
If you have some knowledge of the Ultimate Marvel Universe then I would suggest picking up Ultimate Comics X-Men #1. The X-Men are on the run, and they are now terrorists. For the first time ever, I’m starting to think that Magneto may have been right.
Ultimate Comics X-Men #1 Grade: B+