Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artists: Stuart Immonen (p), Wade Von Grawbadger (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: Wolverine has left the X-Men behind, no longer believing in the group's idealistic missions. Logan's close friend Storm travels to Canada to find her former teammate, but while there, she is attacked by a woman from her past calling herself Deathstrike. After immobilizing Wolverine by shutting down his nervous system, Storm and Deathstrike square off in a showdown which nearly kills them both.
Comments: Usually I don't read Marvel's Ultimate books because I feel the entire line is a ploy for lazy writers who can't be bothered with continuity and who like to play the role of revisionists with Marvel's colorful characters. One exception is Ultimate X-Men. The problem of altered continuity is still present, but the creators don't tinker with the basic premise which attracted me to the X-Men so long ago: Young mutant heroes sworn to protect a world that fears and hates them. Since I no longer regularly read Marvel's myriad mutant books, I no longer fret about who's dead (Hank McCoy in this reality) or who's doing what in each book. The reason X-Men still works today is because its parallels with our world are still sadly and eerily valid. For example, the racism in Dr. Cornelius is clearly conveyed when he calls Wolverine an "animal."
Some of the book's biggest assets lie in its action sequences. I give Immonen, Justin Ponsor (colorist) and the rest of the creative team props for the look of the title. While the artwork is not really spectacular, the creative team does deliver the goods when needed, presenting some arresting visuals during key scenes. Joss Whedon made a big deal recently about his homage to longtime X-Men fans in Astonishing with his version of the fastball special. There is a nod to it here too in a beautifully rendered two page spread where Storm hurls Logan (with claws unsheathed and ready for action) up to confront a chopper.
The one major weakness of this issue is the implication that Logan and Ororo may be getting close, especially after what happened to Hank. If any sparks are supposed to fly between these two, it doesn't come across on the pages. Their developing feelings feel forced. In the end, Logan doesn't tell Storm what happened to Yuri, but he tells her he's leaving again. Ororo says Weapon-X was coming after her, and it's time they both stop running. Touching? Yes, but not necessarily romantic. They sound like friends who share similar backgrounds and find themselves in a
Final word: This book should stick to its strengths: well crafted action panels and the examination of young mutants honing their powers; it should stop tripping over its romantic subplots.
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