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Ultimate Origins #3

Posted: Tuesday, August 5, 2008
By: Christopher Power

Brian Michael Bendis
Butch Guice, Justing Ponsor (colors)
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Ultimate Origins #3 arrives in stores tomorrow, August 6.

This was a difficult issue to review, and in the end I have given it a below average rating. The reasons for this is not because the story itself is bad, but given that this is the third issue of five issue mini-series, this book moved very slowly, and in an almost orthogonal direction from the main plotline.

The story begins with everything and everyone getting upset by the strange artifact that powered up at the end of the last issue, an artifact that has been in storage since "World War Twoish." This is repeated twice to emphasize the timeline. That artifact would seem to be the central piece of the storyline, or at least heavily connected to the story. However, we never see it again until the end of the book. Indeed, it is on the last page that we see it.

In fact, very little in this book has to do with the mystery that is supposed to be unfolding within its pages. We are no closer to understanding how everything is "linked," except for the fact that Magneto's parents were experimenting on Wolverine in an attempt to discover a cure for Magneto's mutation. This seems to contradict what has come before: in the previous issues, it was revealed that the military started experimenting on humans and probably produced Wolverine, the first mutant, in the search for a super soldier serum. Judging by this, there would have to be at least one generation of people between Wolverine and Magneto for the mutant gene to show itself, placing the story of the release of Wolverine in the 60s, or even the 70s. Later in the story, Magneto is shown with the mysterious artifact from the opening scenes.

Did everyone catch that slip up? After painstakingly establishing timelines in the first two issues and the first pages of this third issue, by the end of the book everything has been completely thrown in the rubbish bin.

This alone should leave the book with a lackluster score. However, if it wasn't for this, there is a very nicely crafted story that could have taken place in the prelude to the Ultimate X-Men books. We find that in the Ultimate universe, it was Erik that sought out a visionary Charles Xavier. It is Xavier who has the dream of a mutant republic, one that lives with humanity in peace but separate from it. This is substantially different from Xavier's views in the 616-universe. Indeed, the scenes involving Xavier and Erik are excellent story points in themselves, with Xavier being introduced to the Savage Land; however, Erik comments that Xavier had been there before. I cannot decide if this is a mistake, or something still to be revealed, or something that was revealed in another series somewhere.

This points to one serious problem with this series: it largely breaks the idea of the Ultimate universe. The Ultimate universe was meant to be a new starting point for the Marvel U. for new readers. It was intended to be independent of continuity, with self-contained series that largely could be read on their own without reading multiple titles. These series would cross-over from time to time, but not so much so that the reader is left lost. Well, by tying all of these bits and pieces together into a larger tapestry, Bendis is making it so that readers need to know a lot about the world. The answer is, of course, to not read the series. I am concerned about how much it will spill over into other series later on.

The art in the book is on par with the other two issues. It is competently presented with some scenes, such as the Wolverine release scene and the Savage Land areas, being expertly rendered. The "perfect school" from Xavier's mind was particularly good.

I really want to like this book, and in other contexts, it would be excellent. However, in the context of this series, it is problematic. Perhaps in trade form this one will be better.







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