ADVANCE REVIEW: Ultimate Comics X-Men #1 (Spoiler Free)

Ultimate Comics X-Men #1

Ultimate Comics X-Men #1

Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Paco Medina
Inks by Juan Vlasco
Color by Marte Gracia
Cover by Kaare Andrews

Marvel Comics / $3.99 / 32 pages

Though mutant hunting has long been a fringe pastime in the traditional Marvel Universe, the whole world’s gone Westboro Baptist in the Ultimate Comics world. Here, a phrase like “No More Mutants” is less a mystical incantation than an all-too common screed on cardboard signs and overpasses. With so many of the first generation mutants dead and gone or confined to concentration camps, it’s up to younger heroes like Jean Grey, Kitty Pryde, Bobby Drake and former Fantastic Four member Johnny Storm to keep hope alive for their universally reviled species. Despite the dwindling number of known mutants, seemingly normal adolescents continue to discover their own latent abilities during an age when such talents might as well be a terminal diagnosis.

Blame it on a couple things. The recent terroristic exploits of Magneto and his devastating flood. Or the revelation that mutants aren’t a natural evolution of the modern homo sapien, but a class of biological deviants brought about by a man-made virus funded by the U.S. and developed in Canada. Forget that the majority of these mutants have been dealt with, slowly canceling each other out in their own internal struggles. More mutants live in secret amongst the human population, supplementing their number with once-healthy children of the Muggle-born (Wait…I think…no, it works).

Much of Spencer’s script for this first issue in the Ultimate Comics relaunch is dedicated to the establishment of this new status quo. A major press conference serves to lay down the law on the geopolitical front, galvanizing the immense scope of the human/mutant conflict and its repercussions on policy and the media. Amidst the back-and-forth, we’re brought up to speed regarding the current whereabouts of surviving heroes, some seen in relatively peaceful, if prisonly accommodations, while others experience abuse in more secretive camps. Not all mutants live in captivity though. Those aforementioned youngsters live in squalor like Ninja Turtles (though they do have an iPad handy for news-gathering) and at least one of them is committed to preserving Xavier’s legacy of nurturing new mutants. Though the first attempt doesn’t go, shall we say, well.

Tapping politically-minded Nick Spencer to helm this corner of the relaunch was an inspired choice, and he brings a youthful energy to what could’ve been a tired retread of the “mutant problem” plot. It all feels timely without being too bogged down in the current news cycle. It’s a little encumbered by exposition, but new readers will find this a welcoming refresher. That’s important because the new status quo is also without a traditional Wolverine or even a Cyclops, and that presents an uphill battle for any new X-book. That said, if, like me, you’re eager for a book without the usual trappings and find the prospect of real plot progression and character advancement more exciting than not, this is the book for you. It’s a scary new world for the mutants, and though that may seem familiar, the fact that the real heavy-hitters are locked up or six feet under makes the conflict even more daunting. This is a chance for the kids to earn their stripes, and they’ll be doing so with an atypical level of prominence. The mutant problem is pivotal to the other Ultimate Comics titles, especially Hickman’s Ultimate Comics Hawkeye mini-series. So there’s real hope that the line will diverge even more radically from its roots, with a substantial interaction between “pockets.”

Get through all the sound bites and broadcast news and there are some really interesting things happening in the mutant world. I don’t envy Spencer for his task in cleaning up this corner of the Ultimate Comics world, but he does an admirable job of it. I think issue #2 is the real opportunity and the deciding factor. Let’s see these kids charge out into the fray, interact and cope with a very scary world now that the realities have been established.

Pac Medina delivers some clean, expressive pencils keeping in line with what has become the Ultimate Comics house style. It’s very much at home with the work Pichelli is doing over in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, and that makes for a perfect level of visual continuity between these relaunched titles.

Overall, a promising new beginning for an Ultimate comics title once beset by all kinds of trouble and inconsistency. They’ve worked some kinks out and established a pretty brave new world.

Story: 3.5 / Art: 4 / Overall: 3.5 

(Out of 5 Stars)



  1. I’m going to give this 3 issues because I really would like to see this succeed. It’s such a unique concept and i’m really loving the direction the ultimate universe is going now.

  2. Ultimate Fallout gave me the impression that Spencer will be dealing with some of the larger societal aspects of the “mutant problem”, which I’m totally on board for, and I’ve enjoyed Paco Medina’s work.

    But paying $4 for twenty pages just isn’t something I’m willing to do unless I feel like I’d be a fool not to (see: Ultimate Spider-man), so this will be something I snag in trade.

  3. So is this cover a Russell from Stillwater situation then?

  4. I’ll wait till the digital price goes down a bit before I check this out but I’m definitely curious to check it out.

    • Oooh, forgot about digital. If this drops to $1.99 after a month, I’ll definitely buy this digitally rather than trade-waiting.

    • I doubt it will drop to $1.99. If it did drop in price, the drop would likely be to $2.99 not $1.99 based on what DC is doing for the higher priced titles (Action and JL). Also Marvel has not dropped the price of the Ultimate titles in the past and has not indicated that they will here. Hopefully Marvel will drop the same day price to $2.99 and will institute a DC like $1 reduction a month later, but currently there is no indication that is Marvel’s plan.

  5. Hey all–

    To give you the heads up, this issue and the next are 22 pages of STORY.

    • Wow! 2 more pages!

    • Sorry, I just wanted to make sure people knew the amount of content in the issue.

      My creator owned stuff is pretty much ALWAYS oversized, so I think it’s pretty well known where I stand personally.

    • Totally missed the point of that joke, but that’s okay,

    • Pay no mind, Nick. TNC is a bit of a jerk. Can’t wait to read the issue.

    • Hi Nick. Thanks for the info and great to see these issues will be “extra sized” (i.e. larger than Marvel’s new 20 page standard). Since Marvel has started cutting page counts without telling readers, I’ve been tracking this info on CBR and Bleeding Cool, but if you can persuade any of your Marvel colleagues (creators or editors) to publicise the page counts of their comics, I’m sure readers will appreciate it.

      Best of luck with the new series!



  6. cool will pick this up

  7. I really enjoyed Spencer’s work on the Jimmy Olsen co-feature but I haven’t enjoyed anything else he’s written. Spencer’s Secret Avengers issues were poorly written. Instead of telling a compelling story with a message or political bend, Spencer decided to lecture the reader on his particular views. I actually share some of Spencer’s political views but hate preachy storytelling. From this review and the apparent direction of this title, I expect too much preaching going on. I hope I’m wrong because I love these characters and want this to be a good title. Because of the questionable quality and the high price point, I’m going to sit this one out, but if the buzz is positive for the first arc I’ll pick it up in trade.

  8. I have no problem taking a few issues to outline the world and put the figures in place before really jumping in, and I like Spencer’s work on Morning Glories and T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents enough that, combined with the promise of “STORY” to give this a try, at least for the first arc.

  9. well, it’s got to be better then the first ultimate x-men. i don’t know about the whiskers on wolverine but i’ll get it a try.

  10. I hate these overly formatted covers- blow it out to the edges, Marvel!

  11. This will be my first Ultimate book, so I’m hoping it’s a good one.

  12. Really ended up digging this book. I left Ultimate X-men after Kirkman and decided to try it again with this new #1. I think it’s a pretty good set up that has me intrigued for issue 2. That’s all I can ask for from my comics, keep me coming back for more.