cover image ULTIMATE X-MEN: Volume 7: Blockbuster

ULTIMATE X-MEN: Volume 7: Blockbuster

Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Millar, Marvel Comics, . . Marvel, $12.99 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-7851-1219-8

This alternate version of the X-Men saga is primarily a showcase for the ever-popular Wolverine character. In the hands of writer Bendis (mistakenly credited as Mark Millar on the credit page), the story becomes a tour of New York City and its attendant superheroes. It opens with Wolverine on the run, hunted by a paramilitary group he doesn't recognize or understand, seeking help with Spider-Man in Queens and then Daredevil in Hell's Kitchen. When the X-Men are finally called in, they discover Wolverine is being hunted by the very group that helped create him, and another piece of his mysterious past is placed in the puzzle (although by book's end there are more questions than answers). Bendis is a pulpy, dialogue-driven writer. Each of his characters has a unique speaking voice, so he manages to deepen multiple characters even as he drives the suspenseful action forward. It's a good mix. Finch's artwork is well-rendered superhero material. Even busy scenes maintain their clarity, and his fight sequences are dynamic and clean. The storytelling is in keeping with the cinematic style of comics so popular right now, giving the exposition scenes a frantic tone and the fight scenes a sprawling, epic feel, as characters hover in midair or pose dramatically against the city skyline. Bendis and Finch have a crafted a fine superhero tale: swift and fun, though thoroughly bloody and deeply rooted in the Marvel universe. It's not for neophytes or those with a low threshold for violence. (Jan.)