The Revolution has been less than impressed with Kirkman’s run on Ultimate X-Men. Mediocre is the best description for this comic book. Can Ultimate X-Men #71 buck the trend and deliver and interesting story? Let’s find out.
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciler: Ben Oliver
Inker: Jonathon Glapion
Art Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10.
Synopsis: The issue starts with the Brotherhood brawling with the X-Men. Eliot Boggs continues to prove that he is more than a match for Blob.
We then cut to Jean Grey who is supposedly acting under the influence of the Phoenix. Jean is about to kill Lilandra when Professor X enters the room. Professor X tells Jean to stop before he has to hurt her.
We cut back to the brawl between the Brotherhood and the X-Men. Eliot Boggs ends up decreasing the gravity around Blob making him float off high into the sky. Eliot then restores normal gravity around Blob and the fat boy comes plummeting back down to earth with a giant thud.
We then shift back to Prof. X trying to shut down Jean. (Ooh, there is a nice four page ad for the Eternals at this point of the issue. Man, the Eternals’ four page ad is more interesting than this entire issue.) Professor X ends up shutting off Jean Grey’s mind. Jean collapses to the ground.
We then cut back to the aftermath of the X-Men fight with the Brotherhood. S.H.I.E.L.D. is on the scene and is taking away the Brotherhood. Cyclops tells Warren that he misses him at Xavier’s school. Warren tells Scott that he is enjoying his time at Emma Frost’s school. Havok and Cyclops trade very frosty hellos. Northstar and Colossus comment on what a crazy first date they just had.
We cut back to Jean Grey waking up. Lilandra’s assistant informs her that Jean Grey cannot be the Phoenix since Jean’s blood analysis contains none of the Phoenix’s’ properties enumerated in the tomes. Further, that Jean’s parents were members of the Church of the Shi’ar Enlightenment. That Jean must have heard stories of the Phoenix when she was very young and that when her powers began to manifest, her mind couldn’t comprehend what was happening so her mind uses who she remembered about the Phoenix so she could make her powers into something she could understand. That Jean has constricted split personalities to help her deal with having mutant powers. Jean than rants that she is not crazy. (But, you then act crazy to try and prove your point. Ooookay.) Professor X then asks Lilandra to leave.
We then cut to the X-Men returning home. Eliot Boggs comments that the press at the scene of the fight gave him a nickname: Magician. Nightcrawler avoids Colossus. (Yeah, I’m just not buying this. Nightcrawler, who is a freakish looking mutant, is going to be such a harsh judge on Colossus because he is gay? Ok, I guess it is possible. I mean, literally anything is possible. Just not too believable.) Professor X then informs Scott of what happened with Jean.
We then shift to Scott entering Jean’s room where she is resting. Jean tells Scott to please leave her alone. We then see what appears to be a bung of little green imps lying on Jean and holding her. Evidently, no one else can see them. (Okay, well that is odd.)
We then cut to Lilandra’s aide on his cell phone. He tells whoever he is talking to that the analysis is a perfect match. That Jean Grey is the Phoenix. That Shaw was right. And that they will be able to return the Hellfire Club to its former glory. (Which one? The cool Byrne/Claremont version or the lame Ultimate Universe version?) End of issue.
The Good: Well, Ultimate X-Men #71 did nothing to change my opinion about this title. I still find it to be a rather boring and uninteresting comic book. Hmm, now I have to find something positive to say about this issue. Ok, I thought it was a neat twist that Lilandra’s assistant is actually working for the Hellfire Club. I have always liked the Hellfire Club so I don’t mind seeing them making a comeback.
The Bad: I thought that the fight scene with the Brotherhood was uninteresting and rather pointless. I guess it did accomplish in establishing Eliot Boggs as a rather powerful mutant. I would suspect that we are going to see Boggs make a heel turn and become a rather powerful and formidable villain. Or at least I hope that this is the case.
I’m not buying that Nightcrawler is so judgmental of Colossus just because he is gay. It just isn’t working for me. Of all the X-Men, Nightcrawler has had to put up with the most because of his obvious physical mutations. I just find it tough to believe someone like Nightcrawler, with all the persecution that he has faced, would react in this manner to Colossus. Yeah, anything under the sun is possible. It still doesn’t mean that it is a good storyline that is going to work with your average reader.
I am really not that into the Phoenix storyline. Maybe because it has been done to death in better storylines than this one and by better writers than Kirkman. It isn’t a terrible storyline; it’s just that I don’t find it very engaging. I am simply lukewarm on this storyline.
And lukewarm is a description I could use for how I feel about Kirkman’s Ultimate X-Men in general. It isn’t that this is the worst writing I have ever read. I don’t hate it. It is just about as interesting as an unsalted bland cracker. You eat it and it doesn’t taste offensive because it has no taste at all. To me, that is the best way to describe Kirkman’s writing on Ultimate X-Men.
I also find the dialogue to be uninteresting and lacking in any type of natural flow. I think that the pacing is rather slow and plodding. It has taken us two issues just to establish that Jean is the Phoenix and to have a useless fight. Two very boring issues to really advance very little storyline other than the fact that Lilandra’s assistant is really working for the Hellfire Club and that Jean now has little green imps hanging all over her. Talk about battling your inner demons, huh? At any rate, two issues is a long wait for the very small payoff that we got at the end of Ultimate X-Men #71.
I am also very unimpressed with the art team of Oliver and Glapion. I think the artwork is sloppy, sketchy and rather muddy. The facial expressions are terrible. The artwork is as uninspiring as the writing. Usually, strong dynamic artwork can elevate average writing into a decent comic book. However, lousy art with average writing makes for a comic book that is a chore to read.
Overall: Ultimate X-Men is a title going nowhere and issue #71 is just impressive as the rest of Kirkman’s run. Ultimate X-Men used to be a great read. It definitely has not been a good read since Kirkman took over the writing duties. I think that Marvel needs to seriously consider a creative team change in order to shake up Ultimate X-Men. I don’t know how much longer I’m going to stick with this title. I definitely cannot recommend Ultimate X-Men to anyone at all. There are much better titles on the market that are worth your money.