Writer Cullen Bunn uses X-Men: Blue’s twice-monthly format to his advantage, wasting no time complicating our young heroes’ lives. But when you’re dealing with characters from alternate realities, you begin to wonder if these are the types of complications the revamped X-Universe needs right now.
Writer: Cullenn Bunn
Artist: Julian Lopez, Cory Smith
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Like Miles Morales before him, Ultimate Universe-refugee Jimmy Hudson has arrived in the proper Marvel Universe. Every few months, fans of the dearly departed Ultimate imprint seem to have more reasons to rejoice, as characters from the line continue to pop up. As revealed last issue, the latest transplants are the New Marauders – Quicksilver, Mach-2, Armor and The Guardian. Yes, it would appear there are now more than one Quicksilver and Armor in the world. Eh … not crazy about this. I know alternate versions of characters (or offspring from alternate futures) is a classic X-Men trope, but isn’t one Armor enough? Marvel barely uses the one it has already! I wish Bunn and other creators would just create new heroes and villains rather than using ones that make Marvel’s already confusing post-Secret Wars continuity even more convoluted.
But, this is comics we’re talking about. And if we have to deal with alternate doppelgängers, at least a gifted writer of Bunn’s caliber is directing their adventures. That’s my way of saying this was a good end to readers’ reintroduction to “blond Wolverine” (surprisingly, not one of ToyBiz’s 90s action figures).
X-Men: Blue #5 delivers an issue-long battle between the two mutant teams over Jimmy, and introduces a new villain to the series. It doesn’t take a scholar in mutant genetics to figure out who could be directing a team named the New Mauraders – but there is a twist I didn’t see coming. And like many of Bunn’s continuity-friendly twists, I find myself having to visit the Marvel Database to fill in the gaps in my memory.
If you’re not crazy about all-out action issues, fear not, for Bunn manages to insert plenty of great character moments. Iceman especially shines this issue, with some great lines about the “snowballs” he hurls at enemies in battle — a real treat for Iceman fans tired of seeing the character treated as a joke. I also appreciate how Bunn continues to touch on how dangerous Angel’s cosmic fire wings appear to be. They don’t just look cool – those things can do some serious damage!
Also, did you know that Jimmy’s mother is the Ultimate version of Magda Lensherr? You know, Magneto’s deceased wife. Not really a spoiler, as this was established long ago (again, thank you, Marvel Database!). I don’t know the specifics behind how her and Ultimate Wolverine managed to produce a child (I mean, I get it … you know what I mean), but I love that Bunn is going to run with it.
Because, you know, Magneto is the Blue squad’s benefactor. Juicy! Jimmy’s just going to be a walking drama factory, isn’t he?
On the art front, Julian Lopez is back, with an assist from Cory Smith. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, but I’d love if a series this great could greater consistency in the art department, but blame the speedy shipping schedule, I guess.
The good news is the art styles aren’t so drastic that the switch is jarring, though Lopez’s pencils are much more realistic. And he does a pretty great Bryan Hitch impression when it comes time to mimick one of the artist’s iconic Ultimates covers. Smith’s images are a bit smoother (a preference of mine), and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how he handles a full issue starting in X-Men: Blue #7.
To Bunn’s credit, I feel like this series, with all of its brewing subplots and mysteries, has been running for months – when, in fact, we’re only on its fifth issue. The power of two issues a month – but mostly a testament to strong storytelling that makes each issue of X-Men: Blue worth that $3.99 price tag!