X-Men: Blue had a very solid start as Cullen Bunn set the groundwork for this series to be a driving force for the franchise. That isn’t the easiest thing to do considering the X-Men team that makes up Blue is the original X-Men who are still teenagers learning about themselves and their powers. Still, making slight changes like Jean Grey stepping into the leadership role for the first time and Beast’s delving deeper into the magical realm have help set X-Men: Blue apart from other X-titles. Now with these type of foundation things set up Bunn is going to deeper into the X-Men mythos by bringing in another character from the Ultimate Universe who is directly connected to Wolverine, James Hudson. How will the Ultimate Universe’s Wolverine addition shake things up for the series? Let’s find out with X-Men: Blue #4.
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Julian Lopez
Inkers: Jose Marzan Jr. and Walden Wong
Colorist: Irma Knivila
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Inside the Blackbird, Jean has detected an odd mutant signal with Cerebro that is very different from all the other mutants she has detected, almost like it’s a glitch. Iceman comments that Jean shouldn’t say “glitch” inside the Blackbird. Beast says that Blackbird isn’t who Jean is “insulting” but actually Cerebro and if it did turn against them it would just fry Jean’s brain. Iceman is shocked at how morbid Beast has become.
In Arrow Ridge, Colorado, the X-Men finally land at where the mutant signal was coming from. Jean does a psi-sweep of the area but ends up finding some tracks instead. Before they can follow the tracks the X-Men are confronted by Sheriff Kira Lee tells the team to stand down.
Looking at the team Sheriff Lee decides to show them the body of Wedigo that has been killed by a person with claws. Jean asks if this person with claws is an old man. Sheriff Lee says that the person was a young guy that she has been tracking for a few days now after he saved her life.
Sheriff Lee mentions that the young man seemed alone and was hunting Wendigo for a while now, which is why she was looking for him. The X-Men offer their help in the search, which Sheriff Lee accepts.
As they walk through the woods Jean asks Sheriff Lee will allow her to look into her mind for more information. Sheriff Lee turns down the offer. Jean instinctively thinks about looking anyways but stops herself.
Suddenly the team hears the “Snikt” sound of claws and find James Hudson, who tells the team to turn around and leave by the count of three. Jean tries to knock Jimmy out with her powers but his mind has some sort of mental block. Jimmy charges at the team so Cyclops acts fast by blasting Jimmy with an optic blast. Jimmy quickly recovers and goes after Cyclops. Jean uses her powers to send James flying through the woods before he can kill Cyclops.
Angel and Iceman go check on Jimmy and they recognize him from their visit to another world (Ultimate Universe) where he was their Wolverine and son of Ultimate Logan.
Jimmy gets back up and attacks the team, knocking Iceman and Beast down quickly. As he charges at Cyclops and Jean he is stopped on his tracks by Sheriff Lee, who shoots Jimmy in the back several times. With Jimmy stopping for a few seconds it gives Iceman enough time to make himself into a giant ice monster and smashes Jimmy unconscious, surprising Beast and Angel with his powers.
Beast checks on Jimmy and wonders if he has the same healing factor as Logan. Sheriff Lee says he does.
Iceman gets his teammates attention by saying he is ready to fight the Juggernaut. Jean tells Iceman to power down as he is acting oddly. Iceman goes back to his original form while reminding his teammates who took down “Wolverine Jr.”
Sheriff Lee wonders if they should use handcuffs on Jimmy. Jean says they won’t be necessary as they want to prove they are his friends, not enemies. Jimmy suddenly wakes up confused at what Jean just said. Jean tells Jimmy that they are the X-Men and they can help him. Sheriff Lee suggests they continue talking somewhere else.
At a nearby bar Jean asks if Jimmy really thought he was someplace else when he attacked them. Jimmy says he can’t remember anything. Iceman brings up Jimmy’s world and if that is where he thought he was and if he killed the other version of him. Jean thinks that is too far.
Iceman then wonders why they aren’t getting strange looks at the bar. Jean says she tweaked everyone’s minds to make them appear like normal customers.
Jimmy apologizes as all he can remember is pain. Cyclops wants to take a step back and explain how Jimmy is from another world. Jean says that while Cyclops was in space with his dad the X-Men met a mutant who could travel to different worlds. At that time the X-Men ended up in the Ultimate Universe where they met that universe’s X-Men, including Jimmy and Iceman’s counterpart. Angel mentions that his counterpart was dead.
Jimmy says he does not remember anything that Jean and the others are saying. Jean tells Jimmy that they will help him recover his memories.
Before they can finish talking items in the bar start floating in the air. That’s when the Ultimate Universe version of the New Marauders, made up of Mach-II (Nomi Blume), Quicksilver, Armor and The Guardian, appear. Mach-II says they are their to bring their “companion” back.
The Good: Since the start, X-Men: Blue’s greatest strength has been the dynamic of this team. That is once again on full display in X-Men: Blue #4 as the team does feel like a group of friends rather than just a typical superhero team. But while the dynamic between the team is X-Men: Blue #4 strength, the confusing and unnecessary elements introduced with Jimmy Hudson’s full introduction holds the issue back.
When it comes to understanding one of the things that will help separate Blue from it’s Gold counterpart, Cullen Bunn shows that this series strength needs to be the friendship between the original X-Men team. Throughout the issue Bunn writes the original five X-Men as friends with how their dialogue feeds into one another. That is shown early on with how Iceman and Beast interact with one another when the former reacts to the latter’s morbid response to a joke. Iceman’s response worked well in showing their friendship while also teasing a deeper thing going on with Beast since he is delving further into Marvel’s magical realm.
Their dynamic worked well in making the short action sequence we got between the X-Men and Jimmy Hudson. Bunn portrayed them as a team with each one was looking out for the other. It was an effective way to make them look more like a team rather than just a group of individuals. The ending also hit home how even Iceman, who doesn’t get a lot of his own moments to save the day, come through and knock out Jimmy. It at least showed that Iceman can use the environment to his advantage, something we haven’t seen the character pull off very often.
Bunn also continued to do a good job in highlighting Jean Grey as she continues to mature as the leader of this team of X-Men. This issue had Jean acting much more as the unquestioned leader, which she needed to show. At the same time we got to see how her sympathy for others makes her a different type of leader from Cyclops, Kitty Pryde, Storm and Wolverine. Though it is interesting to see how Bunn continues to play with the darker side of this version of Jean as she was tempted to pull, what she would call, a “Magneto” move. As we get deeper into X-Men: Blue, Jean’s evolution is something I am very interested to see where it goes.
Sheriff Kira Lee added to the dynamic between the team as a reminder of how the X-Men aren’t normal people. Kira being a constant presence in this issue helped ground everything going on with the X-Men’s powers on full display. It was especially enjoyable how she interacted with Jean when she turned down getting her mind read and when learning Jean was able to alter their appearance to the people at the bar.
Julian Lopez delivered some solid artwork throughout X-Men: Blue #4. Lopez gave a different look to Blue compared to its counterpart in Gold as the original X-Men come of as a younger and more exuberant. Keeping this tone for the series will only help both series as fans are able to enjoy two different vibes even though they are both X-Men team books. This was best shown with how Lopez drew Iceman throughout this issue, especially when he was in his giant ice monster form.
The Bad: With how confusing the X-Men Universe can easily be once creative teams delve deeper into the team’s history, introducing X-Men characters from the Ultimate Universe felt like an unnecessary inclusion to the series. Though I understand the temptation of having a Wolverine-like character in an X-Men team book, adding Jimmy Hudson was not the best decision. For one thing, there are already plenty of Wolverine-type characters in the Marvel Universe running around including Laura Kinney as the current Wolverine. Having Laura or another Wolverine related character involved would at least make sense with everything going on in the X-Men world right now.
But now that Bunn has added Jimmy to the mix there is no way for the character to escape from being seen as nothing more than a Logan-lite clone. It does not help the character at all that the first time we see Jimmy he has the iconic Logan design. Having that design instantly puts into a reader’s mind that Jimmy is another clone character of Wolverine, who already seems overexposed. And in having this design choice we are able to see just how similar the character is to Logan, especially with how he has a similar memory loss of his past life, that now Jimmy feels stuck in an adamantium box he can’t escape.
Not helping Jimmy’s case is the fact that he is the version of the character from the Ultimate Universe. We already have so much confusion within the X-Men franchise with characters from different timelines and universes that adding Jimmy doesn’t help make X-Men: Blue a new reader friendly comic. Especially given how we already had Miles Morales and his entire supporting cast integrated into the main Marvel Universe following Secret Wars it does not make sense that we have this confusion brought up since the Ultimate Universe does not exist anymore after merging with 616-Universe.
Adding to the confusion is the fact that the New Marauders are made up of X-Men from the Ultimate Universe. With how expansive the X-Men Universe is for Bunn to dig into seeing the New Marauders made up of these Ultimate characters felt like a waste. The Marauders as a team has such untapped potential to be a cool villain group for this X-Men group to go up against. But for that potential to be wasted on characters from another universe just did not feel right. This was an opportunity for unused characters like Mister Sinister, Silver Samurai, Vertigo Avalanche and Toad, to name a few, to be brought back in and be given some importance into what is going on with the current X-Men books.
Overall: When it comes to showing off the fun dynamic between the original X-Men, Cullen Bunn knocks it out of the park with X-Men: Blue #4. Unfortunately the unnecessary confusion added to the series with the integration of characters from the Ultimate Universe just reminds readers why it is so difficult to read an X-Men comic. Hopefully this new arc moves quickly so Bunn and company can focus on where X-Men: Blue excels.