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This guide provides information on the characters from this 35-year-old comic book series with photographs and stills from the movie. It also has cut-away artworks revealing what happens inside Professor X's New York mansion where the X-men train and prepare for their missions.
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Gorgeous, oversize, and well designed, Ultimate X-Men is also perfectly titled. It's a comprehensive overview of four decades of Marvel Comics's monstrously popular mutant superheroes--from their debut, in Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's X-Men #1 (1963), to the terrific X-Men movie (2000). Ultimate X-Men includes the many major mutants who have appeared in The Uncanny X-Men and its spinoffs (Alpha Flight, New Generation, Wolverine, X-Factor, and numerous other series and miniseries). Two-page spreads detail the most important characters' origins, powers, costumes, and relationships. In addition, every superhero and supervillain appearing in the movie receives a sidebar, with stills, that describes the onscreen incarnation. Also receiving detailed coverage are nonmutants important to the X-Men, including Ka-Zar, Longshot, and Dr. Moira MacTaggert; major alien groups and races, like the Starjammers and the Shi'ar; and important locations and technology, such as the Danger Room, Dr. Xavier's estate, and the Blackbird jets. The book also covers the best Uncanny X-Men story lines, the Dark Phoenix Saga, and Days of Future Past. A Summers family tree lays out clearly a tangle of relationships (between clonal and alternate-timeline versions of Cyclops/Scott Summers and Marvel Girl/Phoenix/Jean Grey) that could drive even an experienced genealogist crazy. Ultimate X-Men opens with an entertaining foreword by X-Men creator-editor Stan Lee and concludes with a two-page overview of the X-Men animated series (1992-1997); a four-page "Making the X-Men Movie" section with many great shots; and an insightful afterword by the series' best writer, Chris Claremont.
Ultimate X-Men is a book every X-Men fan will want. It's practically a necessity for the newcomer drawn to the comics by the movie, because Marvel's mutants multiplied like superpowered rabbits in the 1990s. Art-oriented fans, however, may be disappointed by Ultimate X-Men. While it contains a hefty amount of art, the original artwork (the preliminary character sketches, a lovely Dave Cockrum sketch of Nightcrawler and Ororo, etc.) is outnumbered by panel and cover reproductions. And if you're less than enamored with the nature of endless comic-book series, Ultimate X-Men will prove that the more things change, the more they stay the same. --Cynthia WardAbout the Author:
Peter Sanderson is a popular culture historian specializing in the American comic book. He is the author of Marvel Universe (Harry N. Abrams,1996) and has worked as an assistant editor and staff archivist for Marvel. He was also a contributor to Who's Who in the DC Universe, The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, and various magazines about comics. Sanderson earned a bachelor's and two master's degrees in English literature at Columbia University and lives in New York City.
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