Monday, February 13, 2012

The Ultimate Reviews Part 4: Ultimate X-Men - The Bendis Run

Brian Michael Bendis, best known for kicking off the Ultimate Marvel imprint with Ultimate Spider-Man, takes over Ultimate X-Men for a year. Bendis run heavily featured Wolverine, more so than Miller. Bendis was joined by popular artist David Finch for all twelve issues. Bendis is known for introducing Ultimate versions of many popular characters, chiefly Emma Frost, Angel, Dazzler, and Havok.

Bendis first arc, 'Blockbuster', mainly features Logan trying to track down people who are trying to kill him.

The X-Men aren't really featured until the end of the arc. In the first few issues, Logan teams up with Daredevil and Spider-Man to fight these unknown assailants. There's quite a bit of action in this six issue arc, from the three costumed heroes fighting with the special ops in Hells Kitchen to the Phoenix taking down a helicopter. There are a few problems with this arc. It is very Wolverine heavy. In fact, the X-Men don't really make an appearance until the third issue. Also there was a little too much action, without enough story. In the end, I did find myself enjoying this arc and was glad that Bendis finally fleshed out some of Logan's mysterious past.

The second arc introduces a slew of new characters, as mentioned they are; Emma Frost, Angel, Dazzler, and Havok. Bendis drastically changed the character of Alison Blaire (Dazzler). Instead of the upbeat Ali that everyone knows and loves in the “main” Marvel universe, we're introduced to a punk rock, grungy version that I personally loved. The rest of the characters are essentially younger versions of their 616 (main Marvel universe) counterparts.

'New Mutants' turned out to be one of my favorite Ultimate X-Men arcs yet. Bendis combines political, action, and drama elements to great effect. We see Emma Frost propose a team of mutants sponsored by the government in an effort to educate the “human population” about mutant affairs. Also the Xavier Institute gets some new recruits, Angel being my favorite.

Bendis writes a lot of political banter and situations, which I thought were great, but some might not enjoy. Also they might be put off by the Ultimate characterization of Dazzler. 'New Mutants' is still one of my favorite arcs of Ultimate X-Men, for the being a well written thriller/action story.

David Finch's artwork through out Bendis' run is good. It's detailed and has a cinematic style that I enjoyed. His action scenes are very dynamic and he draws one of the best looking sentinels I've seen in an X-Men comic so far. My only complaint is that his characters seem to have the same face, which I kept noticing throughout the book. It does detract from the story at some points, but not enough to ruin the story for you.
Overall Bendis writes a memorable run that is worth checking out, especially if you've been waiting for some new X-Men to appear. Three and a half stars out of five.

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