Current Reviews


Sunday Slugfest – Ultimate X-Men #49

Posted: Sunday, July 18, 2004
By: Craig Johnson

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Brandon Peterson

Publisher: Marvel

Average Rating: 6/10

Jason Cornwell:
Egg Embry:
Jim Kingman:
Judson Miers:
James Redington:

Jason Cornwell:

The opening encounter between Sinister and Professor Xavier is a little too reminiscent of Richard Widmark's classic debut performance in the film "Kiss of Death", but than again it does make for a powerful opening to the issue, and the action that follows is pretty clever, with a nice mix of misdirection. In fact this issue does a wonderful job playing with the secondary players, as Iceman gets the opportunity to show once again that he's far too overconfident, and there's a great moment where it looks like Rogue is bullet-proof only to learn she's not. I also have to make mention of the fact that Rogue's power-leeching ability has been used as little better than a dramatic device that I had forgotten how cool it could be when it surfaces, as there's a great moment where she borrows Warren wings.

There's also a number of cute little moments like Dazzler's contribution to the battle, and Warren's allowed to make a pretty impressive arrival. The issue also manages to add a slightly unsettling element to Xavier's control over these students, as there's a somewhat seedy quality to the idea that he's using the Mansion cameras to play bigger brother, though I guess it could be argued that his intrusive behaviour was driven by his fatherly concern. The issue offers up a pretty solid scene where Rogue's bible belt upbringing comes into play, as she is very much a believer in the eye for an eye method of dealing with Sinister, and her exchange with Storm makes for a dramatic moment. The issue also earns marks for making Sinister into a fairly creepy presence, which was a quality that his Marvel counterpart never quite managed, which tells me the character's transfer to the Ultimate Universe can be labelled a success.

Brandon Peterson gets an action heavy issue to deliver, and he's a pretty solid artist when it comes to capturing the intensity of the action, from the scene where Bobby is gunned down, to Warren's ever impressive arrival. I also enjoy the scene where Dazzler makes her arrival at the battle as her slacker approach to the high intensity action is amusingly reflected. There's also a great visual where Warren wings emerge out of Rogue's back, and the last page makes for a pretty effective closing visual to the issue. Also while it's a generic poster shot, the cover image is a lovely piece of art, and at least it reflects the stars of the issue.

Egg Embry:

This picture summarizes my thoughts. It’s the “Ultimate Finger”. It’s what Marvel gave me after I bought Ultimate X-Men 46 to 49 and read them all at once.

The last time I read Earth One’s X-Men, Mister Sinister was blasted to bones by Cyclops (that’s my only memory of the story, but it was cool). So when I read that Brandon was teaming with Vaughan to bring in the Earth Two… er, Ultimate Mister Sinister, I got excited. I thought, this could be good.

Brandon’s art was incredible (easily 5 out of 5 bullets). Mister Sinister stutters. That was a lovely, lovely touch. As a rule, Vaughan’s dialogue was very hip. Very hip (4 out of 5 bullets). And I like the Ultimate Charlie X better than his Earth One counterpart.

Then there was that story… thing.

Did you know Ultimate Beast is dead? Did you care? Storm does. She was madly in love with a man that is hairier than me (which is rare). So, I feel there’s still hope for me (even if it is only in comics)!

And after four issues of buildup, Mister Sinister (with two handguns) fights a dozen X-Men (with SUPERPOWERS). Jeez, I wonder whose going to win (0 out of 5 bullets). I was so floored with how weak that was that words escaped me. Instead, I grabbed one of Brandon’s panels for reference and drew Wolverine giving me the finger… very juvenile on my part, but it felt right at the time… I’m sure I’ll regret it later.

Jim Kingman:

Hey, what’s this? The ultimate in guest appearances? Are these the Olsen twins featured on the cover of Ultimate X-Men #49?! No, wait, it’s really Rogue and Kitty Pryde. Unfortunately, I’m more familiar with the Olsen twins than I am with current members of the X-Men. I have never been a tried and true follower of the World’s Greatest Mutants in any of their convoluted incarnations over the past forty years, although I am familiar with some of their history.

I enjoyed this issue, even though it is part four of an extended story arc. For me, it was like coming into an action movie three-quarters of the way through, but, fortunately, there is a handy dandy recap on the first page to bring the uninitiated up to speed.

The evil Sinister is gunning down mutants. The X-Men are hot to defeat him. That’s the plot, in a nutshell. (Well, there is a greater threat pulling Sinister’s strings, er, mind, but that menace will be dealt with in later installments.) What’s different about these X-Men than all the other X-Men teams I’ve encountered briefly before? Hank McCoy, the Beast, is dead. Really dead, as in deceased and buried. And some of the X-Men members appear a little younger than I remember them.

Matters move quickly in this story. Vaughan likes a high-speed roller coaster pace, somewhat different than how he structures Y: The Last Man, and Peterson does a fine job keeping up. I am not familiar with Peterson’s prior work. He has an Image-house style that I can tolerate in small doses. It suits the story well.

As a non-X-Men fan, I was entertained by Ultimate X-Men #49. Though not necessarily hooked, I was impressed enough to consider trying a back issue or two.

Judson Miers:

Beast is dead, Storm has an emotional breakdown, and there’s a new mutant serial killer on the loose that’s undetectable but all mutant-type detectors. Prof X sends the “senior” students on a mission to find the mysterious serial killer named Sinister, leaving the school with only the “junior” students. This leaves the school “undefended.”

The story opens with Prof X scanning the security cams for signs of trouble. In walks Sinister without a whisper, catching Xavier completely off guard. Sinister’s got the proverbial “bad boy” look about him complete with tank top, tattoos, and a watch cap on his head. He looks more like one of Wolverine’s friends than a former bioengineer for Oscorp. Something pretty awful must’ve whacked him out to have slipped that far from a professional scientist.

Anyway, Prof X tries to slip a Jedi mind trick on Sinister without success. For being the most powerful psychic on the planet, he’s awfully underpowered for a thug with a couple of .45 semi-auto pistols as weapons. (Aside: He’s gotta quit telegraphing his Jedi mind tricks by putting his fingers up to his temples like that-it just gives the bad guys that extra couple of seconds to prepare for his attack.) Suffice it to say, Sinister counters the Prof’s Jedi mind trick and pushes him down the stairs. Meanwhile, we find the other members of the group trying desperately to get home in time to stop Sinister. They don’t succeed.

Back at the mansion, the kids come out in force. Bobby throws some of his signature ice around, Warrens acts noble and aloof. Both of them almost end their short-lived career in the exchange. Rogue, Kitty, and Dazzler add some distraction and actually get the upper hand but as Rogue is about the finish the job, a much more subdued and calmer Storm speaks the voice of reason and compassion. At daybreak, Fury and Shield show up to clean up the damage and take Sinister away.

Sinister kept referring to Lord Apocalypse; it appears in this telling of the X-Men mythology that Apocalypse has resurfaced and is trying to build his Horsemen for worldwide destruction. It appears that either Fury doesn’t know about Apocalypse or just doesn’t want anyone else to know what he knows about him. Either way, there’s trouble a-brewing for Issue 50.

James Redington:

The last part in this Sinister story is ok - That’s about it though, I found it predictable and very easy and quick to read. I am still reeling from Beast’s death to be honest and while the 1st and 2nd part of this story were good, this ending was week and empty for me - that aside it is better than the main X-Men titles in the regular Marvel Universe at the moment.

From start - I didn’t like the cover, the x-girls should have looked attractive, I am sure they were meant to look attractive - they didn’t. The girls are too skinny and I thought the colours were bland and the inking too heavy, maybe it was the pencils. I did like the angle and the way they were looking up though. To be honest all the Ultimate covers of late have been a little lacking in impact, the best being the recent Spidey issues.

Inside the story continues on from the last issue as the “older” X-Men race back to the mansion to save the “younger” X-Men from Mr Sinister. Well the youngsters end up taking on Sinister and after a few scares and some predictable dialogue Sinister is defeated and in the hands of Nick ‘Shield’ Fury.

It’s not that this was a bad issue, but it felt like filler. The only thing that really happened was on the last page of this issue, but I don’t feel very excited about it.

The art however was pretty good, there were some good one page spreads and some great action panels. In fact the art has been quite good throughout the arc and I really liked the redesign of Sinister. Let’s be honest though it couldn’t be any worse.

Overall a disappointing end to a lacklustre arc, I enjoyed it to a point, but it left me feeling empty. Again, it wasn’t bad it was just average.

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