Ultimate X-Men, vol. 1: The Tomorrow People
Collects: Ultimate X-Men #1-12 and Giant-Size X-Men #1
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Adam Kubert
By Doran Murphy
The X-Men have been around for over 40 years. That's 40 years of history, timelines, story arcs, and plots of increasingly difficult complexity that make it difficult for the average Marvel fan (or supercomputer) to keep everything straight and in order. Some of these stories have been ongoing for 40 years, which is longer than some fans of the book have been alive. Frankly, X-Men writers had exhausted most of their options, and had done the equivalent of painting themselves in a corner — they had nowhere else to go, really. What was their solution? Ultimate X-Men.
Ultimate X-Men is the same idea as the original Uncanny X-Men, the same basic character models, appearance and the like, but all the past is gone. Basically, you've started with a new team of X-Men. It should be noted that most of the X-Men in Ultimate X-Men are between 15 and 25 in order to help appeal to the youth that may have been discouraged from buying the X-books due to the decades of history. Basically, Ultimate X-Men gives a younger generation the chance to get in on the ground floor of one of their favorite comic books and read stories about the characters they love, but without the hassle of having to read 40 years of comics in dozens of diverse titles to understand everything.
In this, Marvel has both done well and poorly. Now, more and more readers will pick up X-books and come to love the characters, as they can watch them evolve in their formative years. They can watch the alliances and allegiances being made and broken. At the same time though, what makes the X-comics so great is the complicated storylines. The complex relationships that can hardly be put into words are more a part of the X-titles than their mutant powers. Sure, eventually the Ultimate series will achieve that level of character depth and the like, but it will be a while before Ultimate X-Men is as venerable as its predecessors.
Specifically, today I read Ultimate X-Men: The Tomorrow People. Originally published as issues 1 through 12 of the Ultimate X-Men, this is the very beginning of the new series and it kicks off right with the action. Literally, it starts with everyone's favorite giant, mutant hunting robots tearing up Los Angeles looking for mutants to squash. There are two factions opposing this: Professor Xavier's X-Men, and Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutants. In this case, the enemy of my enemy is still my enemy. Although Magneto and Xavier seek the same end, they go about achieving that end in drastically different ways. Along the way, all of the familiar faces will join us, with a few cosmetic tweaks. The story is very, very solid, and it got Ultimate X-Men off on the right foot.
The artwork is also very well done. Featuring the best Magneto design ever. (No small feat considering how bad-ass Magneto is. I mean, how bad-ass do you have to be to make purple look bad-ass?) There are four pencillers, five inkers, and at least four colorers in this magazine. Really, it shows. It's an undertaking of massive proportions to do so much amazing art in such a short amount of time. This was well planned and well done. The covers really stand out, in particular the "Return to Weapon X" is simply stunning. The full page spreads are a thing of beauty. For instance, there's a dream sequence where Bobby Drake/Iceman is forced to envision his appendix surgery without anesthetic that is simply gorgeous.
I'd recommend reading it, but be forewarned. As good as this book is and despite the pleasant edition of Giant-Size X-Men #1, the hardcover edition totes a hefty price.