Ultimate X-Men #44 Review

Reviewer: Ben Morse
Story Title: “New Mutants: Part 5”

Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciled by: David Finch
Inked by: Danny Miki
Colored by: Frank D’Armata
Lettered by: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Publisher: Marvel Comics

If one word can be used to describe Brian Michael Bendis’ “New Mutants” arc, it’s uneven. At times it has been thoroughly entertaining and possessing a wit comparable to Bendis’ work on Ultimate Spider-Man, Alias or Daredevil, but at times it has felt like Bendis is writing a fill-in, sleepwalking through the motions until David Mack, Brian K. Vaughan, Bryan Singer or whoever is scheduled to come along next, arrives. The penultimate installment was part of the former, part of the latter.

The Good

-Ultimate Nick Fury is one of those rare characters: a Mark Millar creation that I love. Bendis writes perhaps an even better take on the guy than Millar does and the relationship between him and Professor X is always an enjoyable one to read.

-The art. David Finch has gotten scary good over the course of the past year. His style is reminiscent of the best of Marc Silvestri, recent work included. His Sentinels look cool as all heck. His ability to put out beautifully gritty art on a monthly basis is another knock against Bryan Hitch.

-Ultimate Angel is a neat character. His reaction to being thrust into the world of the X-Men is unique and refreshingly real. His scenes with Wolverine in this issue are a treat.

The Not-So Good

-After teasing us last month with Ultimate versions of Havok and Dazzler, we don’t get to see how the punk rocker was coerced into joining the President’s faux “X-Factor” or anything at all about the other Summers brother. There’s no reason some of this couldn’t have been thrown into the space used to tell the useless second part of this story with Wolverine and the boy who turned people to vapor (yes, its inclusion in the arc was “justified” in part four, but I still feel cheated of an issue big time).

-The bad guys still haven’t shown up and by all indications it will be more disappointment ala the “Blockbuster” arc which played the very tired “ticked off former Black Ops folks” chestnut. I like Bendis’ “talking heads” more than most, but his arcs could use a bit more action.

-There is too much vagueness in Fury’s description of what is going on with the forces opposing Xavier. All that dialogue and I’m still unsure if the government is against mutants, a sect is against mutants, what role S.H.I.E.L.D. plays, etc.

Overall, it wasn’t a glaringly bad issue, but the conclusion will have to pack a lot of punch to make up for the time the arc has wasted.