TCR: Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #1 and X-Men #1 – So, what’s all the hype about?

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Alright, before we get into the comics themselves let me just sum up what exactly I’m reviewing here for those readers who are not familiar with the Ultimate line of Marvel comics. I hope I’m not insulting anyone’s intelligence, but I really like to make these reviews from a platform of offering that comic-industry hook point for those who are looking for it.

Basically the main Marvel Universe, which most of the events take place in, is designated at Earth-616. The Ultimate Universe is like another options. It is a parallel reality also taking place within the Marvel Multiverse and is designated as Earth-1610. The numbers don’t really matter as much as just understanding that this is like a big old ‘what if’ – taking the same characters: Spider-Man, the X-men, the Avengers, and the Fantastic Four, and putting them into an entirely different reality.

Ultimate Spider-Man, the first of this imprint, was launched in 2000. At this time there are three running Ultimate Comics series: Ultimates, Spider-Man, and X-Men. All three just debuted with brand new #1 issues with big BIG plot changes. If you’ve ever been curious about the Ultimate comics, this would be the time to take a stab at dabbing into them.

The pros: These books come very highly rated, and from the dabbling of reading that I’ve done in them, everything has been of a high caliber. These book are extremely popular and add a second option to your characters realities if things aren’t going in a direction you’re comfortable with or even want to read in Earth-616 (*cough* stupid Gillen and his stupid issue of this week’s Uncanny  X-men*cough*)

 The cons: This is not any easy line to jump into. Years and years worth of relevant information and events have happened. The writers have opened up this small platform to give new readers something to jump onto, but personal motivation to do a bit of research and background reading will probably be required none-the-less.

On to the reviews!

Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #1 (Not to be confused with Ultimate Spider-Man, which just ended. Little differences in a title can mean an entirely different series.)

I was actually going to let this go by the radar in my pursuit of the New 52, which have been keeping me quite busy. But I just kept hearing so much about it! This first issue came out September 14 and it has since set a Marvel Digital Comics sales record.

What’s so interesting about this comic book? It’s just Peter Parker flinging himself about buildings as usual isn’t it? … Nope. Meet Michael Morales, a half-black half-Hispanic teenager from Brooklyn who is just trying to survive his parents helping him to survive. He, or course, is bitten by a radio-active spider from Osborne’s lab. Osborne is trying to re-create the phenomenon of the original Spider-Man, who is sadly recently deceased. Most of this issue is building up familiarity with this new Spider-Man. (Not that he’s Spider-Man yet, but from the title I think we can safely assume that he very soon will be.) The story takes us back to the beginning of the Spider-Man tale, but much different and with a much more modern feel to it.

Though a lot of people seemed up in arms at someone else claiming Spider-Man’s legacy, Miles really is rather hard not to like. He has a lot in common with Peter: he’s shy, quiet, unsure of himself and stumbling through adolescence. On the other hand he has problems that Peter could never have related to; he’s a minority from a poor family in Brooklyn with shady family members who he is not sure if he can trust or not and an uphill climb in front of him to make anything of himself in this world.

If you are interested in the Ultimate Universe, this issue is a MUST HAVE. This series will be one of the bread and butter, backbone series in the Ultimate line, guaranteed.

 

Ultimate Comics: X-Men #1

Well, if I was going to read Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #1, I certainly couldn’t NOT read the new X-men series as well. Besides, I have heard some fantastic things about what the writers have been doing with some of my favorite characters in this universe. Here’s what I learned: there has been a LOT going on in this universe prior to my arrival. Holy Cow.

But, even though I got the sense that I was missing gobs of details, writer Nick Spenser did a fantastic job of giving readers the cliff notes in non-preachy way. I was never really confused as I was reading as much as I felt a “wait! I hate being left out of the loop! I want to know more!”

The front cover features Kitty Pryde, the Human Torch, Iceman, and the son of Wolverine – who I am assuming will form into a team for the purposes of this title.

Apparently, recently, Magneto basically flattened Manhattan in one of his Magneto-tantrums. Since then, mutants have been hated like they’ve never been hated before (which is saying something). Most have been forced into prison camps. Other, like our main heroes here, are in hiding. Big guns like Wolverine and Cyclops are dead. Many mutants are dead – that’s what happen when the government enforces a “kill on site” policy.

Most of this issue is background information. We see some real-time conflict in an argument between Kitty, Johnny, and Bobby. Should they leave their safe hiding hole in the Morlock’s tunnels in order to stand up and save some of their fellow mutants?

Perhaps the most intriguing line in the issue was Kitty’s closing: “And this is the story of how I became the most feared and hated terrorist in the history of the United States.” Hmmm … well that just sealed the deal for an issue #two sale from me.

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