Ultimate X-Men Issue #56 Review


Reviewer: Andy Logan

“The Most Dangerous Game – Part Three”

Writer: Brian K Vaughan
Pencils: Stuart Immonen
Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger
Colors: Justin Ponsor
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Ralph Macchio

I haven’t been really, really, REALLY digging UXM for a while, now. Oh, sure, the standard of the artwork has been ok, and the stories themselves have been enjoyable to a point…but nothing has made me sit up and take notice…nothing has made my jaw drop…nothing has taken my breath away.

This issue is no exception.

That’s not to say it’s a bad issue, far from it. I really like the way Colossus is a strong, capable character, as tough inside as his armoured outside would suggest; whilst Nightcrawler is a more uncertain, naive innocent than his 616 counterpart. Dazzler, too, is different enough from the 616 universe to make her an interesting and fresh character in her own right, and I love the way she has a snappy answer for every occasion.

It’s just that nothing happens in this issue, or has happened in this entire arc, to make me over-eager to get my sticky hands on the next part. I don’t know, maybe I’m just being a grouch – I WAS entertained, and I DID enjoy reading it, and maybe I should just stop griping and enjoy that small fact, right?

During this issue, the two X-Men teams on Genosha continue their respective searches; the “junior” team seek to find Longshot and rescue him, whilst the more experienced team search for clues to prove Longshot’s innocence.

It’s proactive versus reactive, you might say.

During this morass, an Ultimate version of Spiral shows her hand, and proves to be just as dangerous, though not quite as deadly, as the version we all know already.

One particular part of the issue DID stand out for me above the rest, and gives me hope that the long term plan for this title will provide a satisfying pay-off; namely, the continuation of the slow-burn “Dark Phoenix” plot thread. Once again, in this issue, we see a hint that Jean Grey’s power may not be entirely benevolent, and, indeed, what displays of power that the X-Men have witnessed so far seem to barely scratch the surface of what Ms Grey is capable of.

So far, Scott is the most overtly and obviously concerned, due in no small part to the bond he and Jean share, and we can already see signs of his internal conflict; caught between a sense of duty and loyalty to the woman he loves, while at the same time more than a little afraid and scared of what that self-same woman may be capable of. Some people will no doubt bemoan the fact that the whole plot thread is a retread of Marvel’s earlier, classic Dark Phoneix saga, and there is a fair point in this assumption. Personally, however, I can see enough signs that the UXM version of the story will be different enough to stop it feeling like a weak carbon copy of the Claremont / Byrne uber story.

The issue ends with a cliff-hanger, as Angel falls into Mojo’s clutches, and the end page is a nice homage to a classic scenario within the Morlock tunnels from Uncanny X-Men…it remains to be seen if the end result of this situation will mirror it’s 616 counterpart, especially in light of Apocalypse’s recent arrival into the Ultimate universe.

Several plot threads are weaving in and out of each other that look as if they are going to tie together in a nice, satisfying way. At the moment, certain future story directions are only being hinted at, and the prospect of them coming together means that the long term vista of this title is, potentially, excellent.

I’ve been tempted at times to ditch the title to be honest, but while I’m being satisfactorily entertained, I can forgive UXM for not reaching it’s previous angelic highs. That fact, and my belief that Vaughan has some major pay-offs in store for us, will keep me coming back for more.