Review: Ultimate X-Men #99 – Spoilers!

Ultimate X-Men #99

(**)

I don’t know what to make of this. This series ends next issue. What is its coup de grace? Unnecessary Ultimatum crap! Seriously, this stuff doesn’t mean anything! Hell, they couldn’t even get the death count right last issue (They forgot to mention Beast’s second death)! Having said all that, I’m a sad panda. Coleite only had four issues of freedom and you know what? They were good. He could have had a terrific run on this series. I mean, Ultimate X-Men hasn’t been great, but I enjoyed it. Oh well, I guess my wallet is happy. So for you Ultimatum completionists out there, let me spoil things to save you money.

-Stryker causes havoc (The word not the mutant).

-Sabretooth, Juggernaut, Rogue and Wraith (Guardian, Vindicator, whatever) arrive to save the day.

-Big fight (I didn’t have to tell you that did I?) and Madrox gets Sabretooth back into Magneto’s crew.

-Juggernaut gets hit in the eye (Through that visor thing) with a poison dart and dies (Again? Kind of? Juggernaut could totally come back in Ultimatum) after being touched by Rogue.

-Rogues goes wild! She “kills” a bunch of Sentinel dudes. Stryker is all “Ha Ha! You murderer! You mutants are monsters!”

Bruce Castle Presents: Ultimates vs. Ultimates!

Ultimates 3 #5 (of 5) (Cover B - Robot Variant)

Ultimates 3 #5 (***1/2)

Yes, I liked this issue. I’m not so sure about the rest of this series since the first issue came out in December, but I think even the haters should give this a try. The March On Ultimatum tag has been on Ultimate books for a long time. Until recently, I didn’t have a clue what that event was going to be about. In this issue however, you can actually see what’s going down. If you were annoyed by all the Loeb mysteries, you’ll be pleased to know they’re all wrapped up nicely here. I can’t remember enough to tell if these twists were predictable or not, but I was entertained. I was even impressed when some of this stuff goes back to Ultimates 2. I was about to complain about how long it took for this series to finish, but I remembered a few things. Ultimates 2 took even longer to come out and this is Joe Mad we’re talking about, it’s a miracle the book took less than a year to finish. Speaking of Joe Mad, I like his art and it’s nice to see his work on some interiors. Everything resolves, the art is pretty, it’s entertaining, and the stage is set for Ultimatum.

Ultimate Fantastic Four Ultimate X-Men Annual #1 (****)

The fun continues. The art isn’t as pretty as the first part, but Nguyen and Peterson create passable work. It’s interesting how many people worked on just two issues. Two writers and four artists, seems a bit packed but that’s how the story is. This would easily be a six issue arc in the hands of less talented writers. The story is entertaining, but we’ve seen it many times before. So it works as only two issues long. It’ll be interesting to see if we’re looking at the post-Ultimatum Ultimate universe in this book. The story concludes leaving that a possibility, but probably not kind of thing. These annuals have proved to be entertaining What If type reads with some in-continuity growth of the characters, what’s better than that?

Ultimate Spider-Man #126 (***)

Please Bendis, write better. It’s very uncomfortable when USM isn’t good. Mediocrity may be as common as dirt in a lot of comics, but when you have a series where 80% of the issues are good-excellent things seem a bit off. The majority of this issue is the symbiote fighting people while Peter screams inside. It works as an attempt to make the fight scenes seem unique for a few pages, but after the fifth or sixth “HUUUNNNGGRRYYY!” and “No! Please!” I was bored. When you have an issue that relies so heavily on combat, the art needs to be great. I’m not a big fan of Immonen but he does produce good work here. Sadly, it’s not enough. However, the ending is intriguing and the fights are mildly enjoyable so I do recommend it. I just hope this book returns to the level of excellence that I know it’s capable of.

Bruce Castle Presents: Take Two Ultimates And Call Me In The Morning

Ultimate Origins #4 (**1/2)

Well, it pulled out of that downward spiral. In fact, this issue was even better than last. Unfortunately, it’s still not enough for me to recommend. This issue’s “reveal” was particularly lackluster. Ultimatum is coming, I get it. Stop talking about something big happening and actually show it please. Butch Guice’s art has been mediocre at times, but after looking at this issue, you can see that the man has talent. His renderings are probably the most impressive ingredient in Ultimate Origins. Sadly, this series has turned out to be a moderate retelling of well-known origins with an ultimate twist. Is that really worth your money?

Ultimate X-Men/Ultimate Fantastic Four Annual#1 (****)

Ah, another “people from a warped future come to the present” story. Isn’t that kind of boring now? Yes, but it can still be fun when done well. This comes from two Heroes writers, Joe Pokaski and Aron Coleite. They’re both fairly new to comics, but they’ve already become quite proficient. As I mentioned, this is one of those future yarns. We get to have some fun discovering what’s happened to all our favorite characters. Don’t worry. We still get to see plenty of the current ultimate heroes. They’re drawn wonderfully by Mark Brooks and Dan Panosian. Panosian is a name I’m not familiar with. I found his art to be quite pleasing though. He has a cartoonish style that I’m very fond of. Some more good news is that this issue may actually contain a clue as to what will occur in Ultimatum. Whether it does or not, this was an extremely entertaining read.

Bruce Castle Presents: Wolverine Goes Beserk!

X-Force #6 (****)

If you’ve read one issue of X-Force, you can probably tell if it’s for you or not. Every single issue has been either crappy or really good depending on your opinion. I happen to fall into the really good category. I enjoy the fun and the gore along with the continuity junk. I’m conflicted when it comes to Crain’s art. He does a pretty good job here though. There are even a few moments of (dark) greatness. Overall, this was a promising first arc. I’m pleased that Mike Choi (I really dug his Uncanny X-Men work) will handle the art chores in the upcoming issues and it looks like Kyle and Yost will provide many dark, violent, continuity-filled stories for years to come.

Ultimate X-Men #97 (****)

This is the end of Heroes writer Aron Coleite’s first arc on Ultimate X-Men. I was quite pleased with it. I really enjoyed Coleite’s jam-packed storytelling. There is still some room for improvement, but he’s still adjusting. Like the rest of this arc, this issue contains some pretty crazy stuff. I also enjoyed seeing Mark Brooks’ art. Oh, I just have to write about this: SLIGHT SPOILER!!! Colossus lifts Wolverine over his head and rips off his leg! Does that remind you of a certain unfinished Ultimate mini-series? In fact, listen to what Wolverine says about it, “The Hulk tore me in half once. You shoulda seen what I did to him. It was epic.” END SPOILER!!!! How can you not laugh at that? Anyway, if this title continues after Ultimatum, it looks like Coleite could have a pretty impressive run.

Review: Ultimate X-Men #95

SPOILERS!!!

Well I loved last issue and this one is still really good. I read an interview with Aron Coleite and he said he would try to pack as much as we could into each issue. He is doing pretty good so far.

We start off with a look at Cyclops’ early days much like last issues look at Colossus. We get a look at Dazzler, Angel, Rogue, and Nightcrawler and how they look and act with “Banshee” in their system. Colossus gets some more drugs and the dealer is mysterious. Cyclops takes some drugs, or does he? Jean is looking for who else is drugged up. It’s Wolverine? Oh no! Well, with his past, who knows what he was doing. We see the Alpha Flight again. Sasquatch is Rahne Sinclair?! What a twist! Of course she is naked when she depowers.

Jubilee tries to see who is under Vindicator’s mask and he breaks her fingers! “You don’t need your fingers to cast your fireworks.” What a dick! The druggy X-Men crash the Alpha Flight pad. Oh, Angel looks like a bird now. Rogue looks kind of like Mimic because she has other people’s powers going all the time now. Dazzler rides a light tiger into battle with a sword and a shield, and Nightcrawler can now shoot stuff at people. They fight.

Rogue absorbs Vindicator and she is shocked at who he is! Who could he be? Cyclops notices the battle is going poorly for his friends so he shoots up too. After a quick flashback, Cyclops is now super powered now. He flies and he blew up his visor. Cyclops checks up on Colossus who was looking for his boyfriend. Oh no! Did Northstar OD!!!??

So yeah I fun with this issue. I don’t think it is as good as the last one but oh well. It is still some good storytelling and I am still loving the Mark Brooks art!

3 stars

Review: Ultimate X-Men #94

New writer, Aron Coleite! New Artist, Mark Brooks! JUMPING ON POINT!!! I don’t know what it is, but all of a sudden, Ultimate X-Men is fun again. Maybe it’s because, for the most part, Kirkman ended his atrocious run on a high note… and then this new creative team comes around and pitches a story I can really sink my teeth into. I think what I like best about this new “status quo” is that all the classic Ultimate X-Men are back in book as main characters. Cool guys like Nightcrawler and Beast. Anyway, this issue opens with a look at Colossus’s childhood: All he ever wanted was to be a Super Hero.

Now, he’s living on a farm with his dad, milking cows when all of a sudden his origin story shows up in the form of the Russian mobster, Anatol Spichkin (whose true plot significance shall be revealed later in the book). Jeez, what a way to find out you’re bulletproof, huh? Too bad the cow had to die. Fast forward to the present:

Good Lord, Logan! Firestar can’t be more than 15, ya’ perv! Will this joke ever get old? Whatever, it still makes me laugh every time he does it. Also, Aron displays some tight continuity here. Liz only just joined the X-Men and she’s already on the baseball team. I approve.

Love me some Ultimate Nightcrawler. His actions and hate speech succinctly reveals what’s wrong with most of the fervently religious peoples: hypocritical intolerance. Speaking of…

Maybe Wolvie’ll hit on some of that underage Jubilee action. Heh heh heh. Anyway, back on topic (that topic being homoerotic super hero teams or teams that are named “Alpha Flight”), these guys look ludicrous! But in a good way! What the hell is Guardian wearing? Those red bulb thingies look like police lights… RED LIGHT SPECIAL! So, Alpha Flight shows up and Wolver-Douche is immediately like, “Ah, my bad, I screwed these guys over once and now they’re back to take their revenge… I think.” Although a plausible explanation (who hasn’t he screwed over?), Guardian quickly attempts to explain that they are NOT in fact hear for Logan—TOO LATE!

I mean, crazy canucklehead attacks, you gotta respond with force, right? Wrong! That love tap is enough to start the mother of all splash page brawls, initiated by the ever hot-headed Cyclops. I wish 616 Cyclops was this badass… well, he is when Joss is writing him. Le sigh.

100 pages of fight scene later…

Aurora is looking FIERCE right here, noe-whut-a’m-sang?!

Surprisingly, (its Alpha Flight, if they manage to successfully dress themselves in the morning I’m surprised) AF kicks the SHIT out of the X-Men. Badasses that they are, they retreat to their flying spaceship and make jokes at the X-Men’s expense. Hah, my kind of douche-baggery. Well, Colossus isn’t laughing.

…too bad the rest of the X-Men are unconscious at the time. Later, Cyclops tries to calm the visibly upset Peter. Shit, they did just kidnap his boyfriend. Nuh-uh, the big C ain’t having it. And you know what? He’s EFFing A right! If it was Jean, they’d probably even call the Ultimates and the fricking Lametastic Four! Word, bro! Gay discrimination, yo! Okay, let’s go kick some Canadian ass… oh snap, the Alpha Flighters are gods now? Drug addicts, anyway.

Alpha Flight is on drugs… Colossus calls discrimination on his fellow X-Men… when did this turn into an after school special?!? I’m loving it! And if that wasn’t enough issues for our teenaged titans to deal with, Jean decides to take moral matters in hand.

Cyclops serves it up fresh.

Have we learned nothing from the terrible example Xavier set? Well, no, and thank God, because then how the crap would the plot move forward?

Colossus is an addict. Hmm. This whole time. For 94 issues. Hmm. Justifications and misplaced righteous indignation behind the link.

It might be offensive to say, but I’m saying it anyway. Jean Grey is a #####. Again, I approve.

Which brings us to the next plot beat (there’ve been so many! Bendis should be taking notes), Cyclops grows a pair. And then Petey is like, “Dude, welcome to the party!”

Ugh, is that Ultimate Beak? At least Brooks makes him look cool… pfft!

Lots of poking fun, but I really did enjoy this issue. I feel like finally, X-Men can be good again. Let’s hope Aron and the writers that eventually take over after this can build on the good feelings established in this arc.

Crap, I really hope Ultimate FF is the book that gets axed after Ultimatum and not this one.