Ultimate X-Men #1 is way more like a horror manga than a traditional superhero comic

Ultimate X-Men #1
(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Ultimate X-Men #1 is here, launching the third title of the new Ultimate Universe. But unlike Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate Black Panther, which remix familiar characters and concepts into new but still very recognizable incarnations, Ultimate X-Men is just about as disconnected from the mainstream Marvel X-Men as it gets.

Whether that's a good thing in the long run has yet to be seen, but Ultimate X-Men #1 is already representative of the other side of the Ultimate coin, where familiar Marvel characters can be reinvented in totally new and unexpected ways that challenge fan expectations.

Light spoilers ahead for Ultimate X-Men #1

Written and drawn by Peach Momoko, with script adaptation by Zack Davisson and letters by Travis Lanham, March 6's Ultimate X-Men #1 is far closer to a modern horror manga than what one might expect of a traditional X-Men story. Yes, there's a school, and yes, Hisako Ichiki/Armor is the main character (though she's just developing her powers here). But that's where the apparent similarities come to an end.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Rather than being about a straightforward mutant awakening, Ultimate X-Men #1 focuses on Hisako getting pulled deeper and deeper into a tragic mystery involving the students at her school, right down to a ghostly encounter with a mysterious being who seems to know much more than she does about who she is. There aren't any other known mutants in the book (yet), and we still don't know who's going to show up in future issues aside from new character Maystorm.

On the surface, this is nothing like most mainstream X-Men comics, and unlike the new Ultimate Universe's other offerings we've seen, Ultimate X-Men seems far less concerned with appealing directly to longtime X-Men readers, instead offering up a new concept that could take the mutants of the new Ultimate Universe in a totally different direction.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Still, that doesn't mean there's no connective tissue at all. At its heart, Ultimate X-Men #1 is still a story about alienation, discovering your hidden truth, and finding your way in a world that may fear and despise you. 

For the rest, there's still plenty of time for more outwardly X-Men related elements to come into the title. And while we wait, Peach Momoko is telling a spooky, supernatural tale that highlights her gorgeous painterly art while building a bigger mystery.

Ultimate X-Men #2 goes on sale April 10.

Stay up to date on all the new X-Men comics Marvel has planned for release.

George Marston

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)