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Ultimate X-Men #34

Posted: Sunday, June 29, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: David Finch (p), Art Thibert (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot:
The book opens with Logan trying to enjoy his lunch at a dinner in Brooklyn, when he's approach by a fan who recognizes him from his exploits with the X-Men. After she pays for his lunch, we see that everything is not what it appears, as we see the woman was not a fan but merely an agent confirming his identity, and a sting of white vans parked in front of the diner, unload a barrage of bullets into the dinner, cutting Wolverine down like a mad dog. We then look in on Spider-Man as he makes his way home but his evening routine is severely disrupted when he finds a horrifically injured Wolverine hiding in his basement. After a momentary surge of panic where Peter fails to recognize the bloody wreck of a body as Logan, we see he calms down, and learns that all Logan is asking is for a place that he can lay low for a couple days, while his healing factor repairs the damage. However, when Mary Jane barges her way into the basement, we see Peter has to let her in on this little secret mission. We then rejoin them several days later as we see Peter & MJ were able to keep the injured Logan hidden from both Aunt May & Gwen Stacy, though Logan does have some cause to grumble, as they weren't able to get him the beer he asked for before he passed out. Fully recovered we see Logan thanks Peter for his help, and goes to leave, only to spot a string of white vans sitting outside the Parker house.

Comments:
This book is basically an extra issue of Ultimate Spider-Man, as it would appear that Brian Michael Bendis has entered Ultimate X-Men waters with his work on Spider-Man acting as his lifejacket. Now it's not exactly a bad idea, as he's using fan favorite Wolverine to ensure X-fans will stick around for the show, and chances are pretty good that he'll probably be able to lure a some fans over from his Spider-Man book by offering up such a Spider-Man heavy affair. Now I'm sure Spider-Man will fade a bit into the background as the story moves along, as Wolverine is the character that the villains are gunning for, and one would assume the story will not only get around to explaining who is behind these attacks but why. Now speaking as a Spider-Man fan I hope the character sticks around for the entire arc, as his interaction with Wolverine is a delightful character dynamic, as I love the wide-eyed innocence that drives Spider-Man's admiration of Logan. Plus, over the course of this adventure I fully expect Peter's sense of responsibility is going to run up against Logan's willingness to play dirty. I mean these two characters are too far apart in what they see as acceptable behavior that I fully expect the two will end up in a rather intense standoff, especially since it's been shown that this version of Wolverine is far more immoral than his Marvel counterpart.

The one thing that left me a bit disillusioned is that when one does sit back and look at this first chapter, it's hard to ignore the fact that very little happened. The book opens with Wolverine gunned down by a group of attackers, but he manages to sneak away to the relative safety of Peter Parker's house. Peter & Mary Jane take care of Logan until he's able to get back on his feet, and when he goes to leave he spots the same attackers parked outside Peter's house. It's never a good sign when the plot of a comic can be summed up in a couple sentences, as that's not just a brief summation but rather it's pretty much the entire show. Now there's some fun elements, as when we're first introduced to Spider-Man he's swinging through the city lamenting about the fact that he actually has to prove he's smart, and that his past A+ grade average isn't enough to have the collages rolling out the red carpet. One also has to love Peter's reaction when he discovers Wolverine hiding in his basement, as it's a wonderfully cute moment when he begins wailing on the poor guy with a broom. Mary Jane's reaction to him after her initial fainting spell was also a lot of fun, as we see she's a bit of a superpower junkie, and she is utterly fascinated by his metal bones & healing factor. There's also the final page, as having Peter's spider-sense go off means he's going to have some serious explaining to do.

David Finch looks to be taking over as this book's regular artist, and as long as he's able to meet the deadlines, than I more than welcome his presence in these pages. His work is highly detailed, but not to the degree that one questions his ability to deliver the goods on a monthly basis, and while there's not much action in this issue, the scene where Wolverine is ripped apart by a hail of gunfire is strong enough that I can't wait for what looks like a very impressive show to start off the next chapter. The art also does some strong work capturing the look of Peter Parker's world, as the panels are filled with strong little background details that show the reader that David Finch put a great deal of thought & effort into what he was putting on the page. From the various papers that litter his desk sporting their A+ marks, to his partially dismantled web-shooter, it's always nice to be rewarded when one takes the time to look closer at the art. There's also some other fun details like the fact that Peter and MJ are wearing outfits we've seen them wearing over in Ultimate Spider-Man, and while MJ's face is a little rounder in these pages, the character was instantly recognizable. We also get a pretty decent double-page shot of Spider-Man as he swings through the city, and the traditionalist in me let out a little cheer, as while the scene on the cover doesn't occur inside, it is nice to finally see a cover of this book that is somewhat representative of the story inside, and not just a shot of an arbitrary character in an action pose.

Final Word:
An enjoyable start that is somewhat undone by its rather slow method of arriving at the truly interesting material. I mean the book starts off with a bang as we see Wolverine has been targeted for death, and while it's played largely for laughs there is a certain degree of excitement developed when we first see Wolverine intrude upon Peter's world. However, as often seems to be the case on Brian Michael Bendis' written material there are times when it's almost as it he simply likes to have his characters talking, rather than doing anything all that important, as Peter's opening internal dialogue acts as a pretty solid method of showing us how trivial Peter's problems are compared to Wolverine, the scene is far to long, considering how little it actually accomplishes. Still the interaction between Peter & Logan is very strong, and Spider-Man fans might want to give this book a look, as the last page of this issue makes it look like we're on the verge of a moment that will wreak havoc upon Peter little world, and his attempts to keep his personal life separate from his double-life as Spider-Man.



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