Review: Ultimate Comics X-Men #2 by Nick Spencer and Paco Medina

Ultimate Comics X-Men #2

Written by: Nick Spencer
Art by: Paco Medina
Inked by: Juan Vlasco
Colored by: Marte Gracia
Lettering by: VC’s Joe Sabino

Published by: Marvel
Cover Price: $3.99

Note : This review is for the digital version of the comic available from Marvel Comics on Comixology

I am going to try real hard not to be redundant on this review. A lot of my thoughts on the revived Ultimates line, I already discussed in my review for Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #3 earlier this week. Really, my first instinct was to do the two reviews as one column, but I had enough to say about each that I ended up just splitting them. Okay, enough navel gazing, on with the review:

Summary (contains spoilers): This issue starts with a cyborg Reverend Stryker actively hunting down mutants, including Wolverine’s son and some mutant children who have been living Anne Frank style. I have never seen this version of Stryker before, but that is one disturbing look, sort of reminds me of a Sentinel:

Stryker believes he has been told by God to hunt down and kill mutants, and God seems to be helping him out in his quest to find and destroy mutants.

Back in New York, Rogue is being tracked by Sentinels who look like Nimrod.  She is rescued by the new X-Men, which consists of Kitty Pride, Iceman, and Human Torch. The Sentinels have trouble tracking Human Torch since he’s not a mutant, but despite this advantage, the X-Men seem to have a tough time with these very advanced Sentinels. Iceman even loses his arm during the fight, though it will grow back. Unable to win the fight, the X-Men grab Rogue and retreat. They quickly discover that Rogue had come to New York to draw the Sentinels out, just so the X-Men would rescue her. She had been told to do this by “God.” Basically, the ol’ “Jake and Elwood strategum:”

I tell you, this God guy seems to be a real trouble maker.

The issue ends by showing a cave in Egypt with Kitty narrating, talking a little more about God, and how he “finally answered.” The last shot is the cave glowing, which just screams “Apocalypse” to me.

Review: You know, as of last Sunday, I had never even really heard of Nick Spencer. Chris gave me the first six issues of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents digitally for my birthday and has been really pushing Ultimate Comics X-Men.  I’ve been loving Ultimate Comics Spider-Man and with what he told me about this book, it really had me curious. In just seven days, Nick Spencer has shot to the top of my read list. T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents is awesome, and Ultimate Comics X-Men is off to a great start.

On the surface, this doesn’t exactly seem like the most impressive team of X-Men. They actually are some of my favorite characters, but none of them are exactly the traditional leaders or strongest members of the X-Men. But that ends up creating a great dynamic here. Kitty and Bobby seem to understand that they are way out of their element here, and with the entire world against them, this creates an intensity I’ve rarely seen in comics before. I am used to seeing heroes take on overwhelming odds, but here this team of X-Men is dealing with impossible odds. And being an Ultimate book, it frees Spencer to do whatever he wants. We’ve already seen Peter Parker killed for good in Ultimates…what does he have in store for this team of X-Men?

I absolutely love this version of the Human Torch. When I heard the team was basically Shadowcat, Iceman, and Human Torch, I couldn’t help but think that Human Torch would seem a bit redundant with Iceman, but Nick Spencer has done a great job making this version of Johnny Storm really stand out. I love the whole “wanna be” mutant aspect, and how he manages to add comic relief at just the right time. I actually thought some of the “god” references through the book were in danger of being heavy-handed, but Torch lightened the mood perfectly:

As I mentioned in my Ultimate Comics Spider-Man review, I haven’t really followed Ultimate X-Men since like issue 10 of the original series, so I don’t know too much about this version of Stryker or how they handled Apocalypse, but just from my limited exposure here, I am really curious what Spencer has in mind here. The idea of mutants being created in a lab and considered a virus is a real clever angle, and it seems like this book is really going to be a hell of a ride.

Paco Medina’s art is solid, though I have to admit, it’s not the most exciting choice. I am not trying to knock Medina’s work here, it’s good and fits the story well, but it just didn’t quite impress me as much as the writing on Ultimate Comics X-Men. I will admit, I am probably just spoiled. CAFU’s work on T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents really was incredible, and this just felt okay in comparison.

I do have one complaint about this series…well…specifically the first issue cover. We are supposed to believe Wolverine is dead,  and yet there he is on the cover of the first issue. Unless of course that’s Wolverine’s son, but again, that seems like a major spoiler. DC has been doing a lot of that on their DC Relaunch covers too. Stop putting characters on the cover of team books if they aren’t part of the team yet!

I don’t have a lot of interest in Schism or Regenesis or Wolverine and the X-Men, but Ultimate Comics X-Men is a damn good X-Men comic. If you are going through crossover exhaustion like I am, you really should check out the Ultimate comics line. These books are better than they have ever been, and while the 4 dollar price tag is painful, Spider-Man and X-Men are both terrific comics. Highly recommended.

Just a quick side note: because of how much I loved Ultimate Comics Spider-Man and X-Men, I gave Ultimate Comics Ultimates a try. That might be the most redundantly named comic ever, by the way. The first two issues actually weren’t bad at all, but they really didn’t blow me away like Spider-Man and X-Men have. At 4 bucks an issue, I probably won’t be sticking with that one as a day of release read. At 2 or 3 bucks, I can see myself reading Ultimate Comics Ultimates, but not at 4 bucks.

Final Score: 9.0 An intense and brand new take on the X-Men. Nick Spencer is the perfect choice for this book, and is quickly becoming the go-to guy when it comes to unique and brilliant team books. Ultimate Comics X-Men is really the “must read” X-book right now.

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