Ultimate X-Pressions
by Ascian

A Review of Ultimate X-Men: Issues 17-18

This week's review is sponsored by: Burger King (where psychopaths can expect the best!) and Starbucks--serving coffee even the world's-most-powerful-telepath can't resist.

Let's start with Issue 17, which reads like the best episode of Jerry Springer ever. Well, maybe that's an exaggeration--you can't get much better than my-cousin-had-an-orgy-with-my-husband-and-poodle. Ungrateful bitch (the poodle, that is).

To sum up: Moira MacTaggert, crotchety scientist extraordinaire, is pissed off at her ex-husband and holds him responsible for their son's current homicidal tendencies. Cause, you know, it's okay to blame daddy for all the bad things that happen to you. Also revealed is that Xavier's little projects are funded by outside investors, making him more of an evil bad ass than I had previously thought. Young David's history is explained, and then Besty Braddock shows up, looking far too Vogue to be a proper detective. She does, however, say that Beast is ・ven more magnificent・in person, which puts her on my good side. Is that a foreshadowing of things to come? I sure hope so. Hank McCoy is blue and beautiful, and deserves his share of the girl-power.

There is a show-down in this issue, but you'll have to read the book to see what happens. Suffice to say, it ain't purty. Oh, and Scott and Jean go to Russia to find Peter--and they do. They just don't get the response they were expecting.

There isn't much to analyze in this issue--everything is fairly straightforward, with only a few surprises about the characters.

Issue 18 is drawn by Chris Bachalo, and Lord, have I missed his work on the X-Men. I know not everyone likes him, but from my point of view, he's one of the best visual storytellers in the business.

Speaking of story, Scott and Jean are in Russia, trying to convince Peter to return to the ・tupid cult・run by the ・ad fool.・Little Peter is obviously harboring some resentment. He feels unappreciated, and confesses that the two terms he spent with the X-Men have been the ・oneliest of his life.・Nobody helped him in fights. Nobody included him in the recreation stuff. The team hardly spoke to him.

Bad X-Men! Bad!

So, I feel sympathetic--but a little confused, too. When did Peter start feeling this way? I thought, at the very least, that Wolverine and Iceman were his friends. And when has Colossus ever needed help during a battle? I mean, hello? Organic steel, invulnerability--what kind of aid does he need? Someone to buff his metal body? A squad of personal cheerleaders?

It appears, however, that Peter has another reason (perhaps the real one) for leaving the X-Men: an unrequited love. Now, unless Peter is gay--which in Mark Millar's world is a distinct possibility--the only team members who could be the focus of Peter's longings are Jean and Storm.

Am I blind--have I missed something over the last 18 issues? I feel as though I need to pull them out and review, because honestly, I don't know which one it could be. If he is attracted to the girls, Storm seems to be the likeliest candidate--if only because Jean doesn't appear too distraught by what she sees in Peter's mind. I mean, if I were Jean, and I thought Peter was in love with me, I would at least have the grace to look stunned (but hopefully not so much so that I forget to wipe the goofy grin off my face). Of course, we are talking about Jean here, who seems to have made it her mission to get it on with all the men on the team.

I'm being picky, but that's not because I dislike Millar's characterization. I love what he's done with Peter. The boy is conflicted--there are a dozen valid reasons why he should leave the X-Men, and just as many for why he should go back. Peter's loneliness, self-loathing, resentment, and desire for affection--for love, even--is real, and gives Peter more character than his typical mainstream portrayal. He actually has to think about whether to help the sailors trapped in the submarine. He has the guts to leave Xavier's posh comforts for a low-paying job in a car factory. He wants a normal life (yeah, we've heard that one before--this should be a drinking game).

Still, Peter's conscience wins out in the end, and he goes all man-of-steel to rescue the sunken submarine. How he gets the ol' Iron Curtain Death Tube out of the water is beyond me--unless he walked across the entire ocean floor up to shore with it on his shoulders--but hey, this is a comic book about superheroes. Reality should get shoved into a deep black closet when you open the cover. The same reality that allows Peter to suddenly decide he wants to be an X-Man again. Suddenly being ・he most famous super hero on the face of the planet・changes your view on things, I guess. Like, in a kiss-my-ass sort of way.

One more thing about Peter: I am rather confused about the lack of attention given to his family--they are little more than background, and don't say a word when Scott and Jean interrupt dinner to harass Peter about his choice to leave the X-Men. Maybe the kids and old woman (siblings, a grandmother?) don't speak English, but hell--if I were his family and I saw Peter upset, I'd be jumping up and down like a crazy little lap dog, gnawing on some ankles. But that's just me.

There's another intriguing story line in this issue, and it belongs to Professor Xavier--who is still a bad ass--and who reveals some of his own history. Seems Magneto was the one who broke up his marriage to Moira--take it as you will, but those two seem to have been tight. I'm not going to say anything more about the Xavier storyline--too much detail would be needed, and I don't want to spoil the entire book.

And can I just say it? Colossus is a manly man. Mrrr-ow!