I must say I'm surprised at the harsh criticism that is directed at the Ultimate X-Men series and this volume in particular. I was a skeptic when the whole "Ultimate" non-continuity line was announced a few years ago, but at this point Ultimate X-Men is the only X-title I bother with aside from Joss Whedon's excellent Astonishing X-Men series.
Ultimate X-Men is about more than just jettisoning 40 years of continuity and starting over. It's about a fresh start for our favorite characters. The X-Men always worked best as troubled teenagers and hated outcasts, and that part of the characters has been lost in the "real" titles in favor of complicated crossovers and constantly killing (and reviving) classic characters. I'd challenge anyone to drag your reprints off the shelf and re-read X-Men #1 and Giant Sized X-Men #1. The spirit of those two monumental X-Men issues flows through the pages of Ultimate X-Men. Criticizing Millar's writing style or Kubert's art is one thing, but I can't see how any objective reader can challenge this title's spirit or heart.
On to the actual stories collected in this volume:
The Tomorrow People starts much like Giant Sized X-Men #1 did, with the individual X-Men being identified and drafted to Professor X's cause. The team is redefined as a group of teenagers, just as Lee and Kirby's originally intended. This lends the characters some wild energy and emotional volatility that keep even the most mundane situations interesting. The other interesting revamp is casting Magneto and his Brotherhood as terrorists rather than just super-villains. Sure, Magneto has always been a terrorist, but more on a "steal some nukes" scale rather than "bomb government buildings and kill civilians". In a post 9-11 world, this type of character is all the more frightening. Magneto's cause is no longer the grand Evil of super-villainy, but rather the more insidious evil of racism and exclusion that can so easily ensnare even the most well-intentioned.
Return to Weapon X is even more fun than The Tomorrow People. Right off the bat, Xavier and company are kidnapped by SHIELD agents whose goal is to exploit mutants for military purposes. Among their past victims - Wolverine. The way these kids are treated - not just the X-Men, but the other Weapon X captives as well - makes for some incredibly compelling reading, as does the introduction of the Ultimate version of Nick Fury, one of the best characters in the Ultimate Universe. This storyline is high on action as well as character development, and is quite simply one of the best X-Men stories I've read in a long time.
I can see that Mark Millar's story and writing style have taken a lot of criticism here, but I found it completely enjoyable and completely refreshing. The X-Men all show strong personalities, as do Magneto and some (though not all) of his Brotherhood. The plot is solid and the dialogue is smart and edgy and so much more interesting than what has been recycled in Uncanny X-Men over the past two decades. Millar has successfully reinvented the X-Men with both a modern look and feel, and a true appreciation for the original X-Men stories that made these characters shine in the first place.
The artwork for this series is as solid as you'd expect from the Kuberts. I've never really been a fan of either Kubert brother's style, but they have come a long way and their art absolutely enhances the overall storytelling.
I highly recommend Ultimate X-Men, not only to new X-fans who might be bewildered by the continuity of the older series, but to old school X-Men fans like me. If you keep an open mind, you should find this book quite enjoyable.
on June 14, 2009
This series does get better, but this first volume is seriously flawed. I refer you to the brilliant review written by Brown Rage from 2006 on the Hardcover edition of this book for his great points on the dialog and artwork, and I'll just skip those elements in my own review.
Mr Millar, the writer, seems to have a fundamentally hard time writing likable characters. It is well known that he hates super-hero comics. Yet, apparently to pay the rent, he keeps writing about them, usually in completely over-the-top reincarnations or re-imaginings in which he gets to transform them into jerky versions of themselves.
Take a look at his work in the Ultimates, Civil War, or Wanted, wherein you can see him writing stories that revolve around self-centered and arrogant people acting out.
Which brings us to his re-work of the X-men. The X-men is no sacred cow for me, mess with them all you want. But the book still needs to have some internal logic, and some compelling characters that you care about (beyond the reference to the mainstream incarnations in other books). But in Ultimate X-men, the characters are all asinine, arrogant, mean, stupid, or just plain irrational.
Most troublesome are the irrational characters, and most troublesome of those is Professor X. His actions and motivations are completely inexplicable, and seem to change from page to page. The only compelling and consistent aspect of his "vision" of mutant/human harmony is the incredible wealth he and his students are able to tap into- the only motivation I can see for any of the X-men joining up with him. (This character only gets worse in the second volume, btw.)
But the other characters fare no better: all get turned into shallow, strutting, and overly verbose bastards at the hands of Mr Millar. There's not one character among them with whom it is possible for the reader to identify.
Besides the characterizations, another absurdity is the way the characters' powers work. In this "Ultimate" incarnation, the characters' powers have apparently been jacked up to ultimate levels.
Why argue with this? Because it robs the narrative of internal logic and dramatic tension when we see: Colossus stop a speeding train by standing on the tracks, Storm easily fry Sentinels with one lightning bolt, Jean and the Professor perform experimental animal-organ to human transplant surgery by telepathically tapping into the minds of some research doctors we are supposed to believe exist somewhere off-screen. At one point, Magneto stops hundreds of Sentinels at once, then simultaneously reprograms them with his powers as they all levitate in the air. I don't care that the original Magneto could never have done that: it is just stupid in and of itself.
The technology that Professor X, SHEILD, and the Weapon X program is supposed to have access to is also ludicrous. I'm sorry but A) there is no way the X-men fly around in a B-2 Bomber. Just not going to happen. And B) the B-2 cannot "beam" people up into it, doesn't have VTOL, can't hold more than 3 people, it cannot turn invisible, it cannot hover, and it certainly cannot hover unseen, and unheard, and without knocking people over, above a crowded city square.
And I don't care if this is the near future, and there are mutants and super-powers, there is no way SHEILD has invented clothing that can allow people to walk through walls and turn invisible.
It is just cheap and easy storytelling to invent preposterous technology like this every time you need an easy plot device or narrative short-cut.
In conclusion, this book is a bloated mess created with a minimum of thought and a maximum of contempt for the characters, coherent dialog, narrative logic, and, I dare say, the human race itself.
Points are given for the artwork, the beautiful format, and the fact that this series improves over time (like when Millar finally stops writing it).
on February 23, 2012
Mark Millar is a genious!
Let me refrase that... Whom ever had the idea for the Ultimate Line is a genious!
I mean, Mark Millar is an awesome writer, and certainly the story of this book is awesome, but the idea of bringing an entire universe that have no attach to present continuity, and hence not been slave of 50 or 60 years worth in continuity, is genious!!!!
Ultimate X-Men bring the most known team of mutants back to teenage. This is no bad thing. Is actually refreshing. But don't worry, there's still enough stiff Scott Summers and funny Iceman for fans. Is good stuff.
I love the references they do to current celebrities and events. Makes me feel they're all here.
I had the most awesome time reading this collection. I simply couldn't put it down. I can't recommend it enough.
on January 6, 2013
This book is the starting point for the X-Men in the 'Ultimate' Marvel universe. The 'Ultimate' universe was a move by marvel to have a line of comics that showed their characters in a modern, and more 'realistic' setting. In later volumes, it becomes more confusing, but the series was generally great. There are also 'Ultimate' Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and 'the Ultimates' which are all set in the same universe. Thoroughly enjoyable
on June 3, 2013
I found this collection to be alright in general and the artwork was interesting to look at, but the story got a bit boring. I finished the paperback just for the sake of finishing it... lost interest about 2/3 of the way through the issues. I'm a fan of the X-Men franchise, but this one left me a little disenchanted. Not bad, but not great.
on September 21, 2008
This graphic novel collects the 12 issues in the first year of Mark Millar's Ultimate X-Men and covers two story arcs: 1) `The Tomorrow People' and 2) `Return to Weapon X'.
In the first story arc, `The Tomorrow People', the world is on the brink of genetic war after the emergence of mutants, humans who possess special abilities due to an activated X-gene in their DNA. In fear of mutantkind, mankind has created Sentinels, giant robots that can identify the mutant gene and are programmed with one directive: identify mutants and terminate them. We are introduced to two opposing mutant groups: the world's most powerful telepath Professor Xavier and his X-Men, who have a vision of a world in which humans and mutants can live together in peace and harmony, and terrorist master of magnetism Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants, who believe that mutantkind are the next stage of evolution, and are meant to replace mankind, not live in harmony with them. Magneto wants to bring about the all-out genetic war that he believes will result in mutantkind finally destroying humankind and inheriting the earth that he feels is rightfully theirs, whereas Xavier believes that such an all-out war would inevitably mean the extinction of all, man and mutant. But when the US government discover the whereabouts of Magneto's secret base - the Savage Land - and dispatch a fleet of Sentinels there to kill Magneto and all his followers, the life of every human man, woman and child in America is in danger, because Magneto will respond to this attack with terrible wrath, and determine to kill every non-mutant in America in one stroke. Can Xavier's X-Men stop this genocide, and the madman that is Magneto?
In the second story arc, `Return to Weapon X', Xavier's school is ambushed by Weapon X, a covert black-ops unit funded by the US government that uses mutants as living weapons against their will, brainwashing them and inserting neural implants into their brains to compel them to obey. Xavier and his X-Men are all kidnapped and taken to the secret Weapon X base in Finland. The X-Men are then sent on missions as operatives of Weapon X and are forced by Colonel Wraith - the head of Weapon X - to do terrible things. But when Weapon X attacked Xavier's school, they failed to capture Wolverine, a mutant with a healing factor that means he can recover from any injury. Wolverine was a former operative of Weapon X, who was kidnapped by them, brainwashed and routinely tortured for many years. He is the world's most lethal killing machine and he has a plan to rescue his fellow X-Men from the clutches of Weapon X, a plan that involves his former team-mates, Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutants...
Comments: I found this to be a most enjoyable trade paperback, with two great stories, the first of which introduces us to the world of Ultimate X-Men and the second of which takes us deeper into their world. The characters are different from in the main Marvel universe (primarily because they are mainly teenagers) and this new start gives readers new to the X-Men and also former X-title readers like myself the opportunity to get back into the X-Men world without having to worry about continuity. The first story is competently told, with good guy Xavier and bad guy Magneto's opposing viewpoints on the place of mutants in the world, the horrors of the Sentinels and the X-Men doing their best to protect a world that fears and loathes them. The second story is even better, with the X-Men and Xavier pawns of Weapon X and its evil leader Colonel Wraith, the story being so compelling because of the terrible sufferings of the X-Men and other mutants as prisoners of Weapon X and Colonel Wraith, a villain who is even worse than Magneto. This trade paperback is a fine start to the Ultimate X-Men series, with well plotted stories by Mark Millar and largely excellent artwork by Adam and Andy Kubert, Tom Raney and Thomas Derenick. I intend to carry on reading.
4 stars out of 5
on June 23, 2013
There are many things to like and dislike about this book:
A modern, edgy and dark retelling of the X-Men's origin in an alternate universe called "Ultimate Marvel". The storyline follows Professor Xavier (the world's most powerful telepath) and his two students Jean Grey/Marvel Girl (a fellow telepath and a telekinetic) and Scott Summers/Cyclops (who can shoot concussive optic blasts from his eyes) as these three mutants begin recruiting more students for the Professor's exclusive school in the forms of Henry "Hank" McCoy (Beast), Ororo Munroe (Storm), Bobby Drake (Iceman) and Piotr Rasputin (Collossus). Together, this group of misfits are guided by the Professor to combat his long time rival Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto) and his own group of mutant recruits known as the "Brotherhood of Mutants" as they seek to destroy Homo Sapien (humans) in order for Homo Superior (mutants) to take their rightful place on earth as the next step of human evolution. Magneto's mindset differs greatly to Xavier's as he believes both species can live together in harmony.
The first storyline begins with Professor X, Jean Grey and Cyclops recruiting fellow mutants to ultimately combat Magneto's forces, and the group are quickly joined by a less than noble Wolverine/Logan/James Howlett. However, the United States have also created their own solution to dealing with the mutant epidemic in the form of Sentinels: giant humanoid robots designed to find and eliminate the mutant gene at all costs. This massive world-spanning storyline comes to an end and quickly moves onto the next storyline surrounding the Weapon X program and Wolverine's past. A host of more popular characters make appearances in this alternate universe, including Rouge, Nightcrawler, Sabretooth, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and many more.
There was a lot more bad than there was good, but the bad was minor and the good was major. The storyline truly represented what Marvel was trying to achieve when they introduced the Ultimate Comic Book line: edgy, modern and dark storylines, the most of which could not be told in the Marvel mainstream continuity because of their sheer scope and direction. The first storyline was massive and world-shattering in scale, making the series incredibly enjoyable, as it really does feel like anything can happen in this universe without consequence. But the main reason I almost gave this book 5 stars was because for the life of me, I COULD NOT PUT THIS BOOK DOWN! I have read very successful storylines that have been critically praised and highly regarded by many, yet have barely been able to finish them because they lacked that something to keep my attention glued to the pages, even when I needed to do other things. Something about this book refused to let me put it down, and that's why I highly recommend it to any X-Men fan or comic book fan.
Also, I may not be a fan of Mark Bagley, but his art here seems to really capture the feel the writer was aiming for.
Mark Millar has made a name for himself writing fiction that contains excessive violence and foul language in the effort to make his work appear more realistic, modern and believable in the real world, to the point that it is too excessive. This book it a fine example of just that. Violence is in spades and the language needs a good scrub of soap and water, but even the portrayal of the main characters was childish and bordering on stupid. Jean Grey and Storm were shallow and vain beyond reproach, Professor X portrayed highly amoral use of his powers, often manipulating the thoughts of those around him, even his own students to fulfil his own end, which was something I found very wrong with how his characterisation should have been handled. Cyclops' personality was all over the place, making it nearly impossible to solidify his character in your mind. And Magneto openly called his daughter, the Scarlet Witch, an "idiot" with an audience when she had asked a valid question, among many other questionable actions he made throughout the book.
The good qualities of this book, especially how I couldn't put the book down it had such a strong grip on my attention and interest, would've given it a 5 star rating had it not been for all the little things that severely lowered the quality of this book in my opinion. Overall the art was great, not the best but definitely not the worst, and I still highly recommend it for any X-Men and comic book fan.
on April 22, 2013
one of my biggest regrets in comic book purchase history ignore the positive reviews this people do not know what they are talking about. Basically they took the xmen and tried to market it towards people who don't normally read comics by forcibly redressing the characters in clothes that will market better to an "mtv" type of audience. All of the characters are very 2 dimensional clones of their former selves and are unpleasantly predictable. I hope things get much better in the sec volume which i purchased after being on an x-men high from reading the all new x-men and the new uncanny x-men which are amazing.
stay far away from all marvel ultimate titles except spiderman and the ultimates because everything else is mediocre at best and all of it gets ruined by the ultimatum storyline which may be one of the worst big events in all comic history
on September 19, 2008
X-Men in 'Ultimate' universe. Although this is the first volume, there is not much origin in this book. It goes into a few details, not a lot, on Wolverine, but everyone else just exist as mutants from the get-go. There is no backstory or anything. This book contains two stories, each spans several issues. The book collects issues #1-12.
First story, the X-Men fights Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants, each opposing group with a different view of their place in society. The X-Men believe they can co-exist with humans and live in harmony, whereas the Brotherhood believes in mutants being the next race to succeed humans. This is a pretty interesting fight and would make a great movie. In the movies we see these groups fight but they left out the humans which are crucial to the story as they fight against the mutants with giant robots called Sentinels. This is an exciting battle and the artwork really comes alive in the story.
The second story is about a government agency known as Weapon-X whose purpose is to enslave mutants to do man's bidding. It is this story where we learn of Wolverine's past. There are some exciting battles here as well, but the only exciting part is the battle between Wolverine and Sabertooth which is way too short.
I felt the stories are lacking somewhat and the dialogue pretty bland. The book does a good job in explaining everyone's powers so even if you're not an X-Men fan, you will come out knowing all the heroes and villains pretty well. If you don't already know, there is always favoritism toward certain characters in X-Men comics. They love Wolverine and he is almost the main character that comes and saves the day. Jean Grey would be second most popular character since she is Wolverine's love interest. Villains vary from Sentinels, to notable humans, to Magneto.
The artwork is ok. Nothing really awesome that stands out. It is clean-looking and serious. One nod is they make everyone look proportional like real people as opposed to caricatures or too cartoon-like like in Ultimate Spider-Man series. The artwork is also not as glossy and plastic looking as in Ultimate Spider-Man which is another nod, but is also the reason why the artwork doesn't stand out as much and look quite bland as the writing. But ulimately (no pun intended), it was a good and quick read and will give you a nice superhero fix.
on May 31, 2012
I just love these first two story arcs of Ultimate X-Men. "The Tomorrow People" and "Return to Weapon X" are the best story arcs of the series, along with "World Tour" and "Return of the King!" This is one of my favorite interpretations of the X-Men because it shows the darknesses of racism (to a degree where mutants are just killed randomly on the streets by the sentinels), has new original origins of the individual X-Men, great artwork by Adam Kurbert and story lines by renowned comic book writer Mark Millar, and my favorite version of the dreaded Magneto. I think the Ultimate version of Magneto is better than the original because he is more dark, sinister, and wants to wipe out the human race so that Homo Superior can dominate the Earth. Who knew that he would actually reprogram the sentinels to hunt humans instead of mutants! That is the best villain the X-Men could ever fight in my opinion!
These two story arcs of Ultimate X-Men fully brought the Ultimate Marvel universe to life! This Double-Sized Volume of Ultimate X-Men, along with Vol. 3 & 6, Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 1,2,4,17, and 19, and Ultimates Vol. 1 are the best of what the Ultimate Marvel universe has to offer!