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Ultimate X-Men #46

Posted: Wednesday, June 2, 2004
By: Michael Deeley



Writer: Brian K. Vaughn
Artist: Brandon Peterson

Publisher: Marvel

The X-Men deal, (or don’t deal), with the recent death of Hank “Beast” McCoy. Jean-Paul Beaubier turns down an invitation to join the X-Men, saying he doesn’t want to segregate himself from society. Later that night, he’s captured and shot by a super-human called Mister Sinister.

This is the first issue of ‘Ultimate X-Men’ I ever bought. Ever! And it’s entirely because of Brian Vaughn. I never liked Millar’s writing; too much action, too little character. Stuff would happen, but I wouldn’t care. And what character he did include was a disgrace to the “real” X-Men. Colossus as an arms dealer? The 100-year-old Wolverine sleeping with Jean Grey? Prof. X with messianic delusions? It’s like Millar was doing everything that was forbidden in normal X-men continuity because it was forbidden.

By comparison, ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ rewrites Spider-Man continuity for a modern audience. The character’s core remains, but I find Ultimate Spider-Man more appealing than regular Spider-Man. The underlying principle of The X-Men has been mutants with no place else to go. Xavier gives them a refuge, but reminds them they have a responsibility to society at large. The principle behind Ultimate X-men is, “Our powers make us better than other people so we must be benevolent leaders.”

(Also, I could never buy into the incredibly paranoid racism in ‘Ultimate X-Men’. Sending Sentinels into the general population to kill mutants in response to Magneto’s attack? I just can’t believe any society, especially the USA, could be so racist and paranoid they’d endanger its own people to get revenge on a minority. I mean, did the U.S. government hunt down, capture, and execute every Muslim in the USA after September 11? No! There’s been some harassment, sure, but no death squads.)

Vaughn effectively points out what’s wrong with ‘Ultimate X-Men’. It is nothing more than a tribute to the “real” X-Men. Every other page, I was reminded of classic moments in mutant history. Cyclops’ imaginary world of Corsair; Storm going punk; Jean’s growing control over the Phoenix force; Kitty used as a pre-teen sex object.

That’s not to say Vaughn wrote a bad comic. Given the constraints, he’s done a good job. Jean-Paul and Emma Frost both make good points about Xavier promoting mutant/human segregation by living apart from humans. Remember, the Civil Rights and Women’s Rights movements were about integrating different peoples into a single society. They did not emphasize how genders and races were different, but how everyone was basically the same, and therefore, entitled to the same treatment. But since the X-Men are founded on the principle of protecting mutants from racist humans and humans from other mutants, the X-Men’s very existence promotes segregation and encourages prejudice. Vaughn might address this theme in greater depth later in the story.

His dialogue is natural, honest, and emotional. It’s why I love ‘Y: The Last Man’. The X-Men sound like real people, something I could never say about them before. But wit ha cast this large, and only 4-issues to work with, I doubt Vaughn could develop their personalities very much.

I’ve enjoyed Brandon Peterson’s work since he drew ‘Sigil’ for CrossGen. His characters are natural and strong. Great backgrounds, especially the sci-fi landscape of “Corsair”. The appearances of Nightcrawler and Angel are a great visual contrast. My one quibble is his inking gets a little heavy in places.

Considering that I’ve practically hated this book since its debut, to get me to buy it and like it at all is quite an accomplishment. But I won’t buy any more issues. I will read this story arc on the stands. Then when Millar comes back, I’ll continue to ignore it.



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