(Panini Books)

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INSTEAD of being the next step in human evolution, mutants have been exposed as the product of US government biological manipulation, a horrific revelation which followed the outlawing and imprisonment of any known mutants after the devastating Ultimatum wave was unleashed by the terrorist Magneto.

Although some surviving members of the disbanded X-Men are hiding out in tunnels beneath New York City, the majority have been incarcerated in internment camps, while the occasional wildcard like the speedster Quicksilver, aka Pietro Lensherr, has an agenda of his own.

The truth behind the government’s involvement in the creation of mutants sparks a riot within the confines of Camp Angel led by former X-Men Storm and Colossus, swiftly followed by a brutal mutant massacre led by the robotic Nimrod Fleet which threatens to tear the United States apart…

Meanwhile, members of the covert mutant team Ultimate X have arrived in the floating cities of The Eternal and The Celestial, mysterious home of the People and mutantkind’s last, best hope. But can their loyalties now be trusted?

The recent, sweeping changes in the Ultimate Universe across this title and companion books look set to completely, irrevocably differentiate the imprint from the mainstream Marvel U by presenting a world so dramatically unlike our own. These long-overdue developments have opened up a host of fresh story-telling possibilities while also ensuring the Ultimate line finally has an identity it can call its own, instead of merely being a more grounded version of the main Marvel range.

Nick Spencer’s X-Men is at the heart of these changes, offering a take on the mutants which doesn’t rely on the presence of now deceased mainstays like Professor X, Wolverine, Cyclops and Magneto, but instead takes the surviving characters in directions completely askew from those seen elsewhere, even in the movies.

However, the constant scenes of death and destruction risk numbing the reader and preventing any real attachment to the cast, constantly upping the ante with no sense of bringing in the personal, human element.

Hopefully this situation will change when Brian Wood takes over for the next book, as the X-Men and the Ultimates themselves come to terms with the change in their world’s status quo, and what the future means for mutants and superhumans alike.

These are exciting times indeed for the Ultimate Universe after a couple of years in the doldrums, and it’s definitely worth jumping on board for what seems like becoming a rollercoaster ride!

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