Thursday, November 01, 2007

How long can you last?

As I noted here, the Marvel Ultimate line reboots classic Marvel comics in the 21st century. With the popularity and cross-over movie fame, the X-Men are an obvious choice. I just read Ultimate X-Men 1, which collects the Tomorrow People and Return to Weapon X story lines. While it isn't as compelling as the Avengers updating Ultimates, it's great fun, although maybe less so for the hard-core fan.

The hard core fan may or may not like the changes. Resetting the characters means they are teen-agers again, as they started before. In the early 60s, they were fairly straight-laced, but these 21st century teens look like 21st century teens. Marvel Girl/Jean Gray has short spiky hair and wears plenty of midriff exposing clothing. Storm is a goofy teen quite unlike the wise woman of recent years.

The political tone is ramped up right from the beginning. The Sentinels start out mutant hunting from the get go and the X-men outfits somehow mask the DNA signature that Sentinels hunt. Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants hide in the Savage Land and only sally forth to commit acts of terror. Much of the story in the first two books concerns the intra-mutant conflict about how to deal with a humanity that violently opposes the existence of mutants. In the recent movies, being a mutant was a stand in for being gay (one parent asked "Have you ever tried not being a mutant.") and the reaction were primarily disdain. In the comics, humans try to kill the mutants they see or turn them into weapon systems.

The story is basically two big fight sequences, so don't expect a lot of character development. There is one surprise making of the beast with two backs, but for the most part, it is ass kicking.

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