Comic Review – “Ultimate X-Men Vol. 5: Ultimate War”

Mark Millar’s second last Ultimate X-Men story arc has just been collected in trade paperback. Maybe fresh blood isn’t such a bad idea.

General Information

Title: Ultimate X-Men Vol. 5: Ultimate War
Author: Mark Millar
Illustrator(s): Chris Bachalo
Original Publication Date: 2003 collection of a miniseries that
started November 2002
ISBN: 0-7851-1129-8
Cover Price: $10.99 US, $17.75 Can
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Collecting the four issue Ultimate War miniseries, this pits
the Ultimate X-Men against the Ultimates, as a direct result of
Magneto’s return.

High Point

Cap’s conversation with Wolverine. It advances both characters in a
way that adds to the tension in the battle scene.

Low Point

At times, the art is downright ugly.

The Scores

In the Stan Lee era, the X-Men fought the Avengers until they realized
there had been a misunderstanding, and then they banded together
against a common foe. In this, they never realized there had been a
misunderstanding, and even if they did, it may not have made a
difference. That’s a fairly original conflict between these
heroes. The military team brought the rest of the military in, too,
which is something I haven’t seen anyone do in the regular Marvel
Universe. (The military was there in Uncanny X-Men #1, but
they stayed out of the way and let the heroes do their thing.) The
combat tactics were new, too. Still, it’s little more than a big
superbattle. I give it 4 out of 6.

The artwork ranges from servicible to ugly. Magneto in
particular tends to look terrible. I wouldn’t have recognized some of
these characters if they hadn’t been named, which is pretty sad
considering that Bachalo drew them the last time I saw them. I give
it 3 out of 6.

The story is pretty thin. Magneto’s back, and the rest of
the world has to deal with it. The public is under the impression
that the X-Men are working with him, which of course isn’t true. The
most interesting parts are the High Point and the return from the
Savage Land. (I knew that last collection felt like the setup rather
than the payoff.) It also would have helped if the second story arc
in The Ultimates had made it out before this. Those of us
collecting in trade paperbacks haven’t seen Hawkeye, Black Widow,
Quicksilver, or the Scarlet Witch working for the Ultimates before. I
give it 4 out of 6.

The characterization was minimal. We learn a bit about the
team leaders, but the followers were barely there. It reads like this
entire story was written as a means to deliver the last few pages. I
give it 4 out of 6.

The emotional response for the first and last issues was very
good. We had the setup, and we had the payoff. I just wish there was
more purpose to the pages in between. I give it 3 out of 6.

The flow was limited by the periodically ugly art. The
layouts and writing kept the action and story flowing from moment to
moment, but there were times I just had to stop and stare at the page
to figure out what I was looking at. I give it 4 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a decent collection, but I won’t be sad to see
Brian Michael Bendis take over on Ultimate X-Men at the start
of what will be volume 7. (The regular issue is number 34, which
ships in June and can be preordered now, if anyone is interested.) I
give it 4 out of 6.

In total, Ultimate X-Men Vol. 5: Ultimate War receives 26 out
of 42.