Officially sweeping throughout the Ultimate Universe, the Galactus/Gah Lak Tus event breaches the world of the mutants with “Cataclysm: Ultimate X-Men” #1. Like other installments of “Cataclysm,” this chapter has a “purple skies” event where Galactus makes an appearance, scares the residents into a frenzy and really doesn’t do much else. The real benefit to this comic is the expository display Fialkov and his art team of Alvaro Martinez and John Lucas provide in bringing readers up to speed with the assembled survivors of the most recent conflagration that has further decimated the mutant population in the Ultimate Universe.
I haven’t been regularly plugged in to the Ultimate Universe’s mutant adventures since Jeph Loeb and Art Adams’ “Ultimate Comics X” series. That makes the two-page exposition a great who’s who for readers to quickly get up to speed on the cast of characters present in this series. Fialkov’s voice for Rogue — the narrator — is clear and strong, but the writer is smart enough to not over-narrate, getting out of the way for confrontation and the subsequent action. There’s enough going on without Galactus overshadowing everything, but Fialkov threads the rest of it through Galactus and makes the Gah Lak Tus swarm a significant enough threat to unite the factions of mutants and pull them into the broader event.
The art from Alvaro Martinez and John Lucas is serviceable, if unspectacular, providing distinct appearances and body types for every character present in “Cataclysm: Ultimate X-Men” #1. The unspectacular is more a byproduct from the everyman appearance of the characters themselves and the relative lack of environment around them. The details are sparse, but unnecessary, in a story driven by plot and seasoned by characters. Jordie Bellaire smoothes the art across the board, and adds a level of consistency through her colors, enhancing the purple-ness of Galactus’ presence. Bellaire propels the visual connection beyond mere “purple skies” and soaks the story in royalty and mystery.
This is a quick, but decisive read, as Fialkov continues to build on the adventure he started. With four “Cataclysm” books on the table now, the offerings from Fialkov carry more gravity and have done a more complete job snatching my interest. Galactus may not be popping characters into his mouth like dinner mints yet, but there is no doubt that Fialkov is treating the behemoth as every bit the threat Stan Lee and Jack Kirby dreamed him up to be. “Cataclysm: Ultimate X-Men” #1 is a wonderful offering in the growing event set to completely change the Ultimate Universe.