Ultimate X-Men #57 Review

Reviewer: Tim Byrne
Story Title : The Most Dangerous Game : Conclusion

Story by: Brian K/ Vaughan
Penciled by: Stuart Immonen
Inked by: Wade Von Grawbadger
Colored by: Justin Ponsor
Lettered by: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Well, for those of you who have also read my review of this week’s Ex Machina, you well know that I regard Brian Vaughan as the finest writer in comics today.

Having said that, the labyrinthine and heart-wrenching task of crafting X-men stories has brought many a good man down.

There are so many X-Men that it is always possible to craft original stories about them and their varied back-stories. However, Ultimate X-Men, whether by editorial dictate or no, seems to feel compelled to introduce new (or pre-existing in 616 canon) mutants into almost every story arc. Heck, there was even an arc a while ago called ‘New Mutants’!

Anyway, this story-line involving a trip to an exotic country by two teams (one sanctioned by Xavier and one not) ends in a satisfyingly unexpected way, with a twist that shows that perceptions can be misleading, and that not all things are as black and white as they may appear.

Although struggling to an extent with the numerous X-Men, Vaughan characterisation and dialogue is the reason to keep coming back for these stories. His ability to imbue the younger members of the team with a spunk and naivete so prevalent among real people in that age group is refreshing in this sea of cynicism prevalent in other comics (for other successes in this area, see Runaways).

The portrayal of Xavier, not only as a benevolent father figure, but also an authoritarian man, is exceptional. We recall that in Ultimate continuity, Xavier is certainly even more cold-blooded and realistic than his idealistic 616 counter-part.

Vaughan has certainly sucked me into the Ultimate world, but I’d love to see a story that maximised the use of the existing characters, rather than feeling the need to introduce Ultimate versions of every character who has ever appeared in the Uncanny X-Men.

Immonen’s art is functional, although his reluctance to fully detail backgrounds is annoying. I don’t want every issue to look like the Ultimates, but this attention to detail always pleases. This fault is to some extent compensated for by Justin Ponsor’s colors.

Stay tuned for a ‘man called Syndicate’…

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