Current Reviews


Ultimate X-Men #31

Posted: Monday, April 14, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer: Mark Millar
Artists: Adam Kubert (p), Danny Miki (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

The book opens with the Rainbow Fall nuclear plant in Miami erupting into a mushroom cloud, before we look in on a gloating Magneto who is celebrating the fact that he's effectively turned the eastern coast of the United States into a nuclear wasteland. We then see him start to play with his captive X-Men who are effectively pinned to the floor by magnetic fields, and his first victim is Wolverine. However, in a feat of strength that completely surprises Magneto we see Colossus is able to not only rise to his feet, but he also delivers a blow that sends Magneto flying. The book then jumps back to ground zero in Florida, where we see Xavier & several recently liberated mutants are working to rescue the civilians in the region & contain the expanding wave of destruction. Meanwhile back at Magneto's base we see the X-Men have pressed their advantage and working together they have Magneto on the ropes. After a last second bid by Magneto to kill them all is foiled by Jean's protective fields, we see the X-Men are contacted by Xavier, who lets them know about the rather worrisome situation in Florida, and in a rather disturbing display of power, Jean is able to race halfway around the world & single-handedly deal with the nuclear explosion. Meanwhile, Scott is reunited with Logan back at Magneto's base.

I'll concede that it does make for a rather dramatic moment in the story, and it does evoke flashes of the Dark Phoenix saga. However I've never been overly fond of endings where the crisis is resolved through what is essentially a single character stepping on to center stage and displaying the ability to resolve the problem with a single display of power. I don't want a character this powerful in the group, as now that we've seen what she's capable of, as long as she remains a member of the group the rest of the X-Men are essentially redundant, as if a crisis needs resolving, all they have to do is send in Jean and her awe inspiring power to quash threats. Now I will say that this display of power has to make people nervous, as Xavier looks to be cueing to the fact that the student has long sense passed the teacher, and I can't see S.H.I.E.L.D. looking the other direction after they see how powerful Jean is, as if they can't recruit her to their cause, you can be fairly certain that they'll take steps to ensure they have some means of containing her should their interests & her interests ever collide. Still while Jean's supercharged power does hold potential for future stories, the simple fact is that they also make her far too powerful to remain a member of the X-Men.

I will give Mark Millar credit for being able to recognize what most of his readers come to this book looking for. I mean one has to enjoy the sheer spectacle that this issue delivers, as any comic that opens with a double page spread of a mushroom cloud & the promise that the aftermath of this explosion will destroy the entire eastern coast of the Untied States is a book that is sure to appeal to the fanboy inside every comic book reader. This issue also offers up one of those ever impressive displays of strength that are a staple of comic book battles, as Colossus manages to out muscle Magneto's control, in spite of his having a body that is entirely comprised of metal. This is then followed up by a fairly solid sequence where the various X-Men get a chance to throw their two cents into the battle, and by the end the group has managed to take down Magneto. There's also Jean's rather momentous display of power, and the little suggestion that is made before this display, as we see Xavier makes a statement that clearly suggests that he is responsible for Jean's sudden ability to command a level of power she never looked to possess previously. Then there's the final page of this issue where we see Mark Millar hasn't forgotten about the situation between Scott & Logan.

It would seem that this book is starting to settle back down on the art front, as it's got a fairly solid guest-artist in David Finch, and Adam Kubert looks to be back in the saddle as this book's regular artist, so my fingers are crossed that it'll be smooth sailing from this point on. Adam Kubert is a pretty solid match for Mark Millar writing, as the big impact shots are nicely handled. I mean the explosion that acts as this issue's opening shot which acts as a wonderful method of drawing readers into the story, to the equally impressive follow-up shot of the crowds attempting to outrace the expanding fireball. The sequence where Colossus manages to rise up & strike down Magneto is also fairly impressive, though I do have to say that Magneto's goofy expression when he's taking that punch to the gut draws some of the awe inspiring momentum away from this shot. The double page sequence where the X-Men batter Magneto senseless is also pretty solid, though the art could've done a better job of telling the reader to read straight across the two pages. The biggest shot of this issue however would have to be Jean's little display of power though, as one can't help but be impressed by the scale, but also that look of utter horror etched on Xavier's face.

Final Word:
The simple fact of the matter is that this issue has its big crisis resolved in a manner that I feel is almost dismissive to the readers, as while it's fine to suggest that Jean's powers are far more impressive & formidable than we have been lead to believe, having her rush in to save the day is a rather anticlimactic finish to this story. I mean having such a powerful member as a member of this book's cast effectively gives Mark Millar the easy out that he can offer up whenever things get a little too rough, and unless he plans on dealing with this situation in the near future, the excitement level in future issues is going to be rather low. I mean one is reminded of the Dark Phoenix saga, and one has to believe Jean's little display of power is going to result in some action being taken against the X-Men. Still, following on the heels of Magneto's rather quick defeat, Jean's little one-woman show is worrisome, as it effectively tells me that Mark Millar is willing to go for the easy out.

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