Leave it to Brian Bendis to be the only writer, seemingly, who can take the less-than-stellar idea of crossing over the Ultimate and the 616 universe and not only making it work, but making it incredibly entertaining right out of the gate. We pick up in the Ultimates universe where Ultimate Doctor Kid Cho (AKA Amadeus Cho) is having his dimension gateway purchased by Ultimate Tony Stark. Suddenly, his Ultimate Lab experiences an Ultimate Overload and the portal, ultimately, shuts. Back in the 616-Verse, Angel and X-23 return from their night on the town, only to find the teaching staff departing and a new mutant emerging.The new mutant seems to be more of a focal point than previously thought, though. Bendis doesn’t seem like he’s going to be writing off what happened between Warren and Laura as “just a one-time deal” and he effortlessly goes about the business of making their burgeoning relationship something that, while it isn’t sure, it’s sure to be interesting. We get a lot of great moments from the time displaced X-Men in this, whether it be Jean and X-23 bonding, despite the latter’s insistence they not, Young Beast being the most delightful nerd he knows how to be or Young Iceman being clueless, intentionally and otherwise, Bendis once again displays a great economy in character development.
Mahmud Asrar takes over on linework and generally does a great job. Characters are detailed and show a great range of emotion in the many conversations that happen in this new arc. This is a very action-light issue, but thanks to Asrar’s quality work, it never falls flat and never gets boring. The characters are just exaggerated enough to belong while still having plenty of subtlety (especially Laura and Warren, whose body language both with each other and the others is a highlight). A large part of that is also owed to Marte Gracia and Jason Keith, whose colors add verve and energy to the title. Though its background palette tends toward dark, it’s actually a very bright book, both tonally and in terms of its characters. The colors never let you forget the feeling of whimsy that pervades the entire thing.
Asrar does a generally great job, but a few of his panels are extremely flat to the point of being lifeless. They aren’t enough to ruin the book’s visual tone, but they’re definitely noticeable. This doesn’t feel like an entire book that was rushed, but parts of it definitely feel like they were.
Minor artistic flubs aside, this is a book that effectively threads fun with drama. It’s more than just teenagers bouncing off each other, but it has a certain delight in being that as well. I’m honestly completely in the dark on what will happen next in this book, but it could go a number of ways, some of which would be incredibly novel. Bendis has always been a writer who’s been great at capitalizing on what makes a character great and, whether using well-establshed ones, or establishing new ones for himself, he’s always done it well. I have confidence he’ll choose whatever’s best for the story he wants to tell and we’ll all benefit from it.