Friday, July 13, 2012

Ultimate Comics X-Men #14 Review

I’ve been away for awhile…again. Let’s blame it on computer problems and not on me being lazy or distracted or anything. Minor update: earlier today I also got my wisdom teeth pulled so I’m writing this review with a mouth full of bloody gauze and a head full of Vicodin, but I won’t let that stop me! The Freeze Ray will continue to uh…fire? Freeze things?

Never mind.

Today were are taking a look at the recently released Ultimate Comics X-Men #14 by star writer Brian Wood(of Northlanders and DMZ) and artist Paco Medina. If I had to describe Ultimate X-Men #14 in one word it would have to be: brooding.
Yeah, Ultimate X-Men #14 is really, really brooding. Most of the issue is set up, dominated by Kitty Pryde’s internal monologue as she explains the current situation to the reader. Basically America is ****ed-up. Reed Richards has turned evil and bombed Washington DC, New York is in ruins, and Stryker’s Nimrod Sentinels have carved out a big chunk of the South Western United States for themselves, launching a campaign of hate and violence against Mutants. Most of this exciting stuff happened in issues of other series and is simply told to us rather than shown in any interesting way, but that’s how it goes in big event comics. You make the best of what you can fit in a single issue.
Kitty Pryde and her band of mutant rebels are road tripping their way into the heart of Striker’s territory in an attempt to take him out and cripple the anti-mutant forces.
Besides all the set up and exposition-ing not much happens in this issue except for Kitty getting groped by some rednecks at a militia checkpoint.

Yeah…and then the comic takes a brief stop in kinda/maybe/pseudo rape territory. And that’s always a fun place to be.  On an intellectual level I can appreciate the nudge toward realism. These are four teenage kids traveling alone in a very hostile environment and the scene afterward between Kitty and James Hudson is very touching. On the other hand…this scene was not fun to read and made the entire comic not fun to read. Especially because, when I start thinking about it the whole scene doesn’t seem all that necessary.
When the guard gets fresh I find myself wondering why Kitty doesn’t just break his jaw. I don’t feel any tension when a gun gets pointed at her head because this is a character who can phase through bullets. She can turn super dense and break his hand. Maybe she’s protecting her friends in the car but then I actually think about who’s in that car. Jimmy Hudson, who’s got a healing factor, Iceman who has survived gunshot wounds in his ice form several times, and Rogue who I’m pretty sure is still cranked-up on Juggernaut powers. Every single one of theses characters is bullet proof.

There are no Nimrod Sentinels hanging around. Why exactly can't they just blow through these guys?

Using my awesome powers of logic, I can deduce that they’re trying to keep a low profile because if they power up and beat the snot out of these guys they’re going to make a scene and have Nimrod Sentinels chasing them all the Way to the Gulf of Mexico. But if that’s the situation than it should have been explained that way instead of Kitty just saying,” We’re going to save the fight for later.” Or whatever it is she said.

The whole thing is especially pointless because the rednecks just end up catching up to them at the end of the issue and forcing a confrontation anyway.

Everything aside, Brain Wood is a good writer and I bet he’s got an interesting resolution up his sleeve. Even if he doesn’t I have a feeling that once the plot actually gets going this will just be the necessary slow issue in an otherwise exciting run. There is a lot of stuff going on that I like. I like the new, take charge Kitty Pryde and I like that Jimmy Hudson is getting set up to be more than just a blonde version of Wolverine.
Paco Medina’s art is a bit darker and much stronger than it was just two issues ago, telling the story succinctly and delivering smooth, unique character designs on each page. It also helps that there’s some digital work involved in the coloring, giving the images a great feeling of modernity that is vital in any Ultimate book.

I let the groping scene take over this review because it really kind of took over the comic for me. Maybe I’m reading too much into it?

So to wrap everything up I want to say that Ultimate Comics X-Men #14 is a good read and I’m looking forward to the next exciting chapter in a series that has always had a special place in my comic book stash.

- Oh…also Johnny Storm gets abducted protecting the Morlock kids back in New York! I kind of like the idea of having the Human Torch hanging out in an X-Men book so I hope this isn’t just an easy way to get him out of the spotlight and replace him with Nomi, who feels a lot like the Ultimate Universe version of Zee from DMZ.

But I wouldn’t be surprised if that phone call wasn’t quite what it seemed, what with all that suspicious static…
And now, I’m done. Review…complete. You may return to your lives citizens.  

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