Graphic Novel Review: Ultimate Comics: X-Men: Reborn

11:21 11 May 2012

Ultimate Comics: X-Men: Reborn

Ultimate Comics: X-Men: Reborn

Archant

(Panini)

AND we’re back in the Ultimate Universe, that markedly different comics imprint where familiar Marvel characters are reinterpreted and updated to give them a more “realistic” edge. If you’re not on board with the concept yet, there’s always Wikipedia.

The Ultimate version of the X-Men disbanded following the Ultimatum event, which saw mutant terrorist Magneto unleash a tsunami on the US eastern seaboard, resulting in the loss of countless lives, including several members of the team. The subsequent battle resulted in the deaths of key characters including Cyclops, Professor Xavier, Magneto himself and most shockingly Wolverine, leaving the X-Men shattered and broken.

In the wake of Magneto’s attack, the US government has incarcerated its mutant population in special camps, with a shoot-to-kill policy enforced for any unregistered members of Homo Superior…

But now a disparate group of mutant survivors, including Bobby (Iceman) Drake, Kitty Pryde and Wolvie’s son Jimmy Hudson, are brought together to face an even greater threat, one which could tear the United States apart and leave the nation’s mutants in an even worse situation than previously thought possible…

A reporter has uncovered hitherto buried information which reveals the secret origin behind the mutant race. They are not, as previously thought, the next step in human evolution, but actually the product of a genetic virus created in US laboratories. Mutants are man-made bio-weapons, and nothing will ever be the same again.

This revelation prompts a wave of social unrest across America, with riots and lynchings in major cities bolstered by the extremist actions of fundamentalist preacher and anti-mutant campaigner Reverend William Stryker, who claims to be able to rid mutants of their “sinful” powers…

Unlike their Marvel counterparts, this is an X-Men team which has to cope with the horrific consequences of their world going to hell in a handbasket. There is no island Utopia for these mutants to find sanctuary on, they are reduced to fending for themselves in the sewers of New York, and the very thing which once united them – the idea that they are humanity’s tomorrow, today – has been proved a devastating lie…

Writer Nick Spencer and artist Paco Medina have built on the past continuity of the Ultimate X-Men series to create a startling new direction for the team which opens up all sorts of new storytelling possibilities.

There is an obvious sense of liberation across the Ultimate line of titles, with the creative teams no longer feeling beholden to merely tell revised versions of mainstream Marvel stories using the same characters in a world which has to remain similar to our own, but instead freeing them to go off in a myriad new directions. It’s an exciting time to be reading Ultimate Comics indeed.

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