Ultimate Comics: X-Men #1 by Nick Spencer and Paco Medina is the last of the new Ultimate Comics series to debut, and it seems like this time Marvel saved the best for last.

So far in this new Ultimate universe we’ve seen the popular and well known superheroes that everyone roots for (The Ultimates, Hawkeye), we’ve seen the new kid (Miles Morales/Spider-Man), and now we’re being shown the outcasts of the universe, the X-Men and the rest of the mutant world. Yes, you could say that the X-Men and mutants have always been outcasts, dating back to their first appearance in the regular Marvel U almost fifty years ago, but they’ve never been treated like this before. Due to the events of the Ultimatum storyline from 2009, it is now perfectly legal to shoot and kill any mutant, regardless of whether they’ve done anything wrong. On top of that, it’s just been revealed to the general public that mutants are not a product of natural selection as it was originally thought, but rather, they were created by the U.S. Government during the 1950s, which causes widespread rioting throughout many of the nation’s biggest cities. This issue opens with a very powerful scene featuring Karen Grant (formerly known as Jean Grey) that shows how incredibly hateful the world has turned against mutants by this point, then moves to a press conference with (Presidential Aide? I’m not really sure of her title, sorry.) Valerie Cooper, who was introduced during the Ultimate Fallout series, where she is answering some questions regarding the revelation of the manufactured mutants. After this we see some reactions from various characters, including the group that Karen Grant pulled together in the Ultimate X mini-series, about what she said. In the end there are a certain few who decide that they can no longer hide, and feel the need to take action.

Nick Spencer does a nice job of setting everything up in this issue. We really get a sense of the hatred and fear that people feel toward mutants in this world and how dark and foreboding the future looks for them. Effectively, they’ve all been reduced to the status of terrorists because of the actions of one. One minor complaint about the issue, is that it doesn’t feel like a true first issue of a book, but given the circumstances, that was probably unavoidable. There is a lot of backstory that happened before this issue that makes this world the way it is. Where all of the other Ultimate books feel like something new entirely and you can pick them up and read them without having read anything else in the Ultimate Marvel Universe, this book is more a continuation of that past universe. This is the holdover for the fans who have been there for the entire run and know the history of the universe (Ha, that sounds kind of funny).

Medina’s art reflects the general mood that Nick Spencer is trying to produce with the story. Everything is very depressed and almost washed out. There are no bright and flashy colors here. Facial expressions are done well, with much attention to detail paid to the emotions they’re trying to exhibit. You feel the sadness that is there during the first scene, and the outrage of the people in the press conference. You feel the confusion and hurt of the mutants as they’re hearing the news that in reality, they’re nothing special after all.

Overall, I’d say if you could only read one Ultimate Comics book, this is shaping up to be the one to read. However, before you do that, there are a few things you need to know about this universe first if you’re a newcomer. You can find all the information you need to know in three other mini-series that I highly recommend reading before this comic: 1. Ultimatum – As bad as it was, there are some significant plot points there that you’ll need to know, and it just generally sets up this new Ultimate Comics universe; 2. Ultimate X – It will give you the back stories on all of the characters that Karen Grant pulled together, because it seems like they’re going to play a big role in this series; and finally 3. Ultimate Fallout – This will give you the immediate history of what’s going on in this issue. Check those three out, then check this issue out. You won’t regret it.

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