You know how these Marvel comics begin with long text pieces explaining what happened previously? Well this one spends a paragraph explaining what’s been going on with Rogue and the X-Men before we get this line: “None of this might matter anymore as the Ultimatum Wave has hit Manhattan.”
That, in a single sentence, is the problem with the entire “Ultimate” line of comics.
None of it matters anymore, now that “Ultimatum” has smashed everything to bits.
So we get this final issue of “Ultimate X-Men.” 100 issues of a storytelling experiment in which classic X-Men stories were retold, reconfigured, and reimagined for a new audience. 100 issues of a brand new take on X-Men continuity, a take that admittedly owed a lot to the stories that have been told elsewhere. 100 issues of Iceman wearing a do-rag.
Considering the context, Aron Coleite and Mark Brooks do a pretty good job with what they have to work with. Yes, this series doesn’t really reach a conclusion here — it just leads into “Ultimatum.” Yes, it’s a rather undignified way to end a 100 issue series. Yes, it’s mostly just Madrox blowing stuff up for 22 pages. But it’s better than you might expect.
Mark Brooks draws like Mark Bagley, but he’s better than Bagley in almost every significant way. His characters have more physical heft. His layouts are more visually dynamic. His characters a bit more expressive. He’s a solid superhero artist.
And Coleite provides a really nice twist to the story of Ultimate Jamie Madrox. Madrox, who was mostly a cipher in the Marvel Universe until Peter David instilled some life into him years ago, is a one-man Jihad in the service of Magneto here. A self-replicating terrorist army, Madrox unleashes devastation around the world.
Cyclops and the X-Men try to stop him, leading to a nice double-page spread of Rogue duplicates battling Madrox duplicates, their punches presumably creating a nearly endless supply of doppelgangers. And though all it takes is to knock out the original Madrox, Magneto has set it up so that such a thing is practically impossible. It’s an inventive use of the Madrox character by Coleite, and the finale of this story leads logically into the next installment of “Ultimatum.”
“Ultimate X-Men” doesn’t go out with a whimper, but the bang inside its pages is caused by something from another comic, from another writer. And that’s not the classiest way to wrap up a series that has lasted for nearly 10 years. Then again, with Iceman still sporting that do-rag well into the 21st century, classy isn’t really what this series is all about.
(See Madrox go “boom” in CBR’s preview of “Ultimate X-Men” #100.)