What is this? A review for a book that was released 10 years ago? It is, and I can’t believe it’s been 10 years. That makes me, and likely you, feel much older than we are. Marvel is rereleasing Ultimate X-Men #1 in a “Marvel’s Greatest Comics” edition to get readers interested in some good titles they may have missed. For the bargain price of just a buck, it’s well worth it.
Published back in 2001, Ultimate X-Men was Marvel’s modernized and edgier version of the heroic mutant team. Aimed to attract a younger, newer audience to an old classic, Ultimate X-Men kept familiar faces and comfortable storylines. but tweeked them so today’s readers can more easily relate. It also played up to the recently released X-Men film, which was a comic book breakthrough at the box office. Some character’s attitude and appearances were altered — most notably Jean Grey, who I think pretty much sums up the differences between this version of X-Men and all others. She went from the wholesome, good girl to rebellious, midriff-bearing teen who not only flirted with Wolverine, but slept with him and broke a young, car-thieving Storm out of jail. On the other hand, Cyclops retained the stick in his ass and Wolverine, as always, grumped his way through being a spotlight stealer.
Really though, the comic turned out a lot better than anyone really thought it would, for the revamping that it was. I think a lot of it was due to Mark Millar stepping up as writer. Millar brought the grit that was never there in the original series. I guess at the time Mark Millar wasn’t too familiar with the X-Men dynasty, thus removing any bias towards characters and storylines. Maybe that’s why this X-Men was so refreshing — it was X-Men: Tabula Rasa.
In its nine-year run, Ultimate X-Men attracted a multitude of talent, including writers Brian Michael Bendis and Brian K. Vaughan — who did a great run taking the secondary characters and giving them a chance at center stage. Vaughan’s “Magnetic North” storyline, starring Polaris and Magneto, remains one of my favorites of any series.
Of course, all good things must come to an end and, with issue 100, Ultimate X-Men was put to rest, along with the rest of Marvel’s Ultimate line. I don’t think a single person was happy with the ending. If you missed it — well, it ended poorly.
For just a dollar, Ultimate X-Men #1 is a must-read. If you get hooked the way I did (it’s the only comic I ever subscribed to), then the whole series is available in TPB form these days. It’s a breath of fresh air not having to remember what happened in the past 40 years just to keep the story straight. Best of all, there were no overdone crossovers that have to race back and forth between comics.