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Our story begins with a mystery. Who is Karen Grant? Who is this mutant dying her hair before heading to work? Then of course she uses her powers to move things around the room, another clue to the puzzle. It remains a mystery because the clues are so vague that at first glance, this could be any female mutant.
Dave is a mall cop in love with Karen, our mystery mutant, since the moment he saw her. He’s planning to ask Karen to marry him after work. That is the narration of the issue, and it has nothing to do with the story. There are many well-executed narrations that do not give a play by play of what is happening in the story. In fact when done right they are very powerful and moving. Ultimate Spider-Man has a perfect example of this: The Ultimate Venom storyline has Peter fighting Eddie Brock after becoming Venom. The entire narration is a letter from Peter’s father, and although it happens in the past it still indirectly ties in with the events happening in the fight.
Jeph Loeb (Ultimatum, World War Hulks) uses a misplaced narrative in an attempt to humanize one the Ultimate universe’s mutants left in hiding after Ultimatum. I applaud Loeb for trying to grow as a writer but this is his third failed attempt of this narration type. He tried it in Ultimates #1, failed. He tried it in Ultimate Comic X #1, failed. The narrations themselves are not half bad but they are distracting from the story and do nothing to move the plot forward.
Karen goes to work to find her co-workers throwing her a surprise party for being employee of the week or something just as trivial. This is a huge red herring to her identity. Dave, the mall-cop-boyfriend, has made a grave error in taking her picture and not only printing it out, but also posting it on his Facebook page. Apparently, Loeb thinks ultimate and topical are synonyms. Conveniently, Karen’s worst nightmare has happened and other mutants have tracked her down… From Facebook.
A big problem with this book is that there is no standard when it comes to characters/costumes. Enter Mystique and Sabertooth. Mystique looks exactly like her regular Marvel U counter part. Sabertooth looks like a brick wall with a head, he’s huge and again would more likely be mistaken for his Marvel U-self than his Ultimate-self. Art Adams (Authority) art is actually quite good, but not very fitting of the typical Ultimate style. Loeb’s singular focus on the narrative leaves Adams art feeling lost and misguided. The art never tells the story because it’s constantly relying on the dialog to do the job.
Loeb is slowly adding a new character to each issue in attempt to build the team and give depth to each character before throwing them all together. The problem is that the depth, in this case the narration, over-shadows the rest of the plot. At its simplest, this book is just about Wolverine’s son finding one of the former X-Men and that’s it. If there is a major plot that’s running through the title then it’s not present here.
Story – 3.0
Art – 6.0
Overall – 4.5