Current Reviews


Ultimate War #1

Posted: Sunday, December 22, 2002
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer: Mark Millar
Artists: Chris Bachalo (p), Tim Townsend (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

The book opens on the Brooklyn Bridge where we see an overturned rig has brought traffic to a dead stop. We then see that this accident was deliberate as Magneto wanted the maximum number of victims on the bridge before it was blown to kingdom come by the Brotherhood. We then see Magneto makes a televised address to the world, where he makes it clear that humanity's reign as the planet's dominant species is at an end, and if they don't instantly surrender he'll make their world a living hell. We then see that the response to this threat is the activation of the Ultimates, and we see the group's lineup has been expanded, as the black ops component of the group has joined the main group, and while part of the group busies itself with looking for survivors on the Brooklyn Bridge we see Captain America & Hawkeye are sent in to take down the group of Brotherhood agents who were behind this bombing. As Captain America takes down most of the group we see Rogue & Toad are able to make it outside, where Hawkeye puts on a pretty impressive display of his prowess with a bow. As the issue ends we see Iron Man has been sent in to investigate the X-Men's connection to Magneto's return, but when he find the X-Mansion deserted, he comes to the conclusion that the X-Men have joined Magneto.

I still remember the sense of excitement that I felt as a young reader back in 1987 when the Avengers squared off against the X-Men, and while that miniseries didn't quite live up to the extremely high expectations that I had entered it with, it was a pretty solid exercise when it came to giving each team a reason to enter that fight trying to secure a victory. If nothing else I plan on holding on to the promise that Mark Millar made regarding the idea that these two groups would be going after each other with no holding back, and while I think the Ultimates have more punch & raw power on their side, if the X-Men have sided with Magneto & the Brotherhood then this battle should be very impressive as it's quite balanced. The Ultimates have every reason to go into this fight with a full head of steam, as most of the team visited the twisted wreckage and as such has seen the loss of life. The only real problem I have at this point is that I can't figure out why the X-Men would place themselves alongside Magneto, as Xavier doesn't strike me as the sort who would condone Magneto's murderous attack, and while some of his students might, I think most would be prone to follow Xavier's lead.

If you're a fan of the Ultimate X-Men than chances are this opening issue is going to leave you a bit disappointed, as that group is no where to be seen in this issue. In fact the big question that I had when I finished this issue is how Iron Man reached the conclusion that the Ultimate X-Men had joined Magneto's side simply by looking at the empty X-Mansion. I mean I suspect that Mark Millar is going to live up to his promise that the two teams are going to be on opposite sides in this conflict, and that he plans on bucking the trend by having them remain on opposing sides right to the end. However given this issue paints Magneto in a very unsympathetic light, I do hope that Mark Millar explains why the X-Men would hook up with him, as right now I failed to notice the big sign that Iron Man noticed that allowed him making the final statement he does. Now this issue does make good use of Magneto, as the character is in full demented mad man mode, and the ultimatum that he offers up to humanity is the perfect challenge to spur the Ultimates into action. Plus, if the Ultimate X-Men have switched sides then this should be one heck of a fight, as Magneto doesn't look like the sort who backs down from a fight.

Chris Bachalo is a name that was pretty high on my list of favorite artists back in the mid-1990's, as his work on Generation X was truly unique in the way that it used to comic page to detail the writing. However, after he left Generation X, and made a brief but fairly memorable visit to one of the main X-Men titles, he dropped off the map, and the only real project that I noticed his name attached to was Joe Kelly's Steampunk, which I simply couldn't get into. Now with his recent guest-stint on the Ultimate X-Men, and now this miniseries, it does look like Chris Bachalo is back in the spotlight, and as such it's nice to see he's being a bit conservative in his style, as there's a nice clarity to the material that has sometimes been absent from his recent work. This issue delivers the horror of the opening attack quite nicely, with the sequence where the young mother in overcome being particularly effective. The shots of the Ultimates digging through the wreckage also have a depressing air to them, and as such they act as the perfect lead in to the sequence where we see Captain America & Hawkeye take down a band of Brotherhood agents. The placement of Hawkeye's last shot is also rather amusing display of crude humor.

Final Word:
Aside from the rather explosive opening material this opening issue is a rather low key effort from Mark Millar, as the X-Men don't look to have received their invitation to the big brawl yet. However, with this miniseries being quite a bit ahead of the latest issue of the Ultimates, this issue does offer up some fun surprises, as we see the team's lineup has been nicely expanded to include Hawkeye, Black Widow, Quicksilver & the Scarlet Witch, while Hank Pym is noticeable absent. This issue does establish that Magneto is back, as he's in full mutant superiority mode, and the Ultimates make it clear in this issue that they're stepping up to the challenge, as they take down several of Magneto's operatives. Still the issue does have a hurry up and wait feel to it, as all the pieces are ready to be thrown on the board, and yet Mark Millar almost seems to unwilling to kick it into gear in this issue. Then again I'll admit I'm an impatient fanboy who can't wait for the big fight to begin.

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