A few years ago, heck this might have been when Circuit City was still breathing, I happened across an Ultimate X-Men DVD for only five dollars. I’d been familiar in the past with this line of comics on DVD products, having previously bought the Uncanny X-Men collection, and marking many of the other Avengers, Fantastic Four, and more collections that were produced for a period of time.
So far, I’ve read through the first 33 issues, up through the end of the “Return of the King” storyline. Started in 2001, this series was a relaunch in a new continuity that attempted to modernize the origins and characters for this decade. For now almost ten years, I personally rejected the Ultimate Universe since I’ve been something of a continuity whore. Having read up through the 80’s in my Uncanny disc, and read through most of Blackest Night, which calls back to plenty of DC history, my faith in this has been shaken. So I’m just looking for good stories.
Think of this as X-Men Evolutions on steroids, or X-Men without 40+ years of storyline baggage. No longer do you feel left out because you weren’t around for a Shi’ar fight that was written in 1979. The characters are fresh. The situations are fleshed out. Xavier’s fortune to run the school is explained. The reason no one attacks the school is explained. The mutant issue no longer feels like it exists within it’s own bubble as it does in normal continuity. (like why didn’t the Ultimates/Avengers show up when Magneto almost killed everything on the planet?) The ties to Shield are nice, with frequent appearances by Nick Fury and even some Tony Stark. The characters have the same basic characterizations, but the changes are nice and genuinely surprising. It’s like if Brett Ratner didn’t suck at reinventing the X-Men. Beast and Storm have a relationship. Jean Grey is more of a damaged and hardened girl thanks to the drugs and mental ward experiences she’s had. Wolverine’s status as a killer amongst the group preaching pacifism is addressed. Magneto is raised to Charlie Manson pulp icon status while in prison. It’s far more realistic than being mired in it’s own long in the tooth storytelling.
Thus far, the only real caveat is the covers. They have almost nothing to do the story. Most focusing on a character in what seems to be pulled from a catalogue of pinup artwork.
If you hadn’t had a chance to check out the Ultimate series’, I recommend them. I’m hoping I can find a way to find the rest of the Ultimate Spider-Man, and other series to plow through like I have this. It seems that these DVD sets are getting a little harder to find for decent prices, likely due to Marvels movements in the digital space with their online subscription and portable device efforts.
A funny aside, I sat on a panel of Marvel execs and creators about Motion Comics and digital distribution. There was one comment, I think from Joe Quesada himself, where they bashed the quality of the digital PDF scans found on the internet. Interesting since many of them may be a result of these very DVDs that were licensed by Marvel for production…
What are you reading lately?