Ultimate X #2

Posted by on May 7th, 2010 at 12:01 AM

© 2010 Marvel Characters, Inc.

Marvel. Written by Jeph Loeb and drawn by Arthur Adams; colored by Aspen MLT’s Peter Steigerwald; cover by Adams, Steigerwald and Aspen MLT’s Mark Roslan; $3.99

“So there.” Jean Grey looks like a high heel in this drawing. Maybe that’s meant to to be the cover’s point, just that visual flourish of a dark-haired woman shaped like erotic foot gear. In story terms the pose is absurd, like she exercised her psychokinetic powers to float herself off the ground and swivel a hip that way and a shoulder the other way and thereby execute a flounce beyond the abilities of ordinary humans. Then she corkscrewed her head to look at us because our cell phone went off. But the shot is a pinup, and those are for looking at and for selling, not for making sense.

If you don’t see Jean-Grey-as-high-heel, check out her actual high heels. The boots have toe and ankle in line, with the heel sticking out behind them. Meanwhile, her body has leg and hip in line, and the two of them together are pushed out behind her torso.

The first arrangement and the second, high heel and body, aren’t an exact match, but the artist does his best within the limits of human anatomy.

Dave … what’s he about? “I like you, Dave,” Jean Grey says. “You’re a sweet guy. And I thought a fairly bright guy.” Dave is a mall cop and he’s sweet on Jean Grey, who’s on the run and has a made-up identity. His dumbness blows her position, evil mutants show up and Dave gets it. Jean deploys her powers so as to punish the evil mutants and leave wreckage about. Dave, after lingering, dies.

Odd. The issue has three splashes, the last of which shows a couple of trucks exploding because of Jean Grey’s psychic powers. But she isn’t in the same picture as the explosion. There are just three pictures that show both her and her powers; all three panels are modestly sized, and two of them are about how she gets dressed. In fact, the largest of the three panels is a getting-dressed shot; the panel where she swoops Ultimate Sabretooth into a truck is just three-quarters its size.

A cunning feminist might say that Jean Grey gets unstoppable kickass powers, but doesn’t get a lot of airtime in which she is seen being unstoppably kickass. On the other hand, she’s the smart one and Dave is a dope; she calls the shots in the story. Also, this getting-dressed business makes for a neat effect. Tights, socks, skirt, boots, etc., hover about the character like a cluster of asteroids in her personal gravity field.

Unexpected grace note. The tiling in the bathroom when Jean Grey spends some time in a bath robe. Every line is there, plus some cracks for added verisimilitude. Why? Adams has a reputation for detail, but why such quotidian detail? (Next he’ll draw in all the table settings for a dinner scene; it’s not often you see a gravy boat near Wolverine, but look!) The oddest thing is that the tiled bathroom makes such a welcome sight. All that detail feels very nice against the eye. Creating superhero comics is such a grind, right up there with reading them. If Adams wants to have his moments of escape, it’s fine with me.

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