“Ultimate Comics X-Men” is a title with some great ideas and interesting character reinventions, but never really found its groove. With issue #13, Brian Wood comes on board and you can instantly see the difference, even though it’s obvious this issue is designed to slowly turn the ship rather than drastically reboot everything. A slow change is a nice choice because it feels respectful and well-considered than just burning everything to the ground from go. It will take a bit longer to see what exactly the book will become, but so far all signs point to an excellent new direction.
Wood makes this slow turn by getting our heroes out of the underground refuge hideaway and on the road headed toward a battle where they can make a real difference. Wood also attempts to give them a symbol to rally behind (X armbands, ‘natch) and Kitty at least gets a more practical costume — though the shroud was cool and fun, it made little sense for a superhero that plans to actually fight crime or supervillains.
Wood has a particularly great handle on Kitty Pryde, and he shows off how formidable her power set is even though it’s not so flashy as some others in the book. Pryde is a natural leader and it’s nice to see her taking that role seriously in “Ultimate Comics X-Men” as she frequently has to take a backseat when it comes to leadership in other titles.
Paco Medina really stepped up his game in this issue, his pencils feeling more like they did when “Ultimate Comics X-Men” first began, rather than how they did in the last issue. The characters are beautifully rendered, the backgrounds are fleshed out, and there’s a lot more depth in general. Four pages in this issue are drawn by artist Reilly Brown, and while multiple artists on a book can be tragic, they pull it off nicely. Brown and Medina’s styles are different enough that you recognize the change, but similar enough that it’s not jarring or particularly distracting. Strong consistent colors by Marte Garcia also help in minimizing the transition between the two artists.
“Ultimate Comics X-Men” is a book I’ve wanted to like from the start, as I tend to enjoy good reinventions of characters I love, but it’s never come together for me. Judging by this issue alone, this title is now on the right track, and those who might have stopped reading should get back on now to see what Wood and Medina can do together. It seems like this book could be excellent in the coming months.