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Ultimate X-Purgation

Rose and I were at Target yesterday looking for the Marvel Age Spider-Man’s Pal, Gus Beezer book for her brother’s birthday, which was unfortunately unavailable. We picked up Classic Origins instead, which reprints the first issues of a bunch of Marvel characters. We also picked up Marvel Age reprints of Ultimate X-Men: The Tomorrow People, Ultimate Spider-Man: Power and Responsibility, and Emma Frost: Higher Learning—if you’re going to get comics of questionable quality, you might as well get them cheap.

I’ve been reading Ultimate X-Men, and it seems to have been expurgated. I’ve looked at these issues in online previews and flipping through the TPB at the bookstore, and I distinctly remember several scenes which are missing from this printing. The opening scene of Sentinels slaughtering people in L.A. and then stepping on a mutatn and his puppy are gone. The scenes of Storm, Colossus, and Beast being recruited to the X-Men are gone. Wolverine being shot down by Weapon X as he leaves the airport in issue #2 is gone. Wolverine hacking his teammates to pieces in the Danger Room is gone. Enough of the text is left intact that you can tell those last two scenes did happen, but their removal leaves obvious and awkward hiccups in the narrative’s pacing. (Bumps which are somewhat mitigated by the pacing hiccups which the insufficiently skillful Mark Millar created himself.) This expurgation doesn’t really make the book more ‘appropriate’ for children: the most graphic violence has been removed, but it’s still a very violent story. I’ve read the first two issues (approximately—there are no markings to distinguish one issue from the next, so I’m guessing where the issues end and begin), and I’ve certainly read nothing that makes me think this story about a team of snotty, sexually charged adolescents violently rescuing the world’s deadliest assassin from a black ops military operation belongs in the same ‘all ages’ line as the Gus Beezer comics. It’s not that I think kids shouldn’t be allowed to read stuff like Ultimate X-Men. I read Stephen King novels when I was eleven years old, but I don’t think they ought to be sold in the children’s section of the bookstore.

Besides, doesn’t Mark Millar hate it when comics publishers censor his work?


  1. Shane says:

    Yeah I never got the whole thing with the Ultimate line being geared towards the younger crowd either. I wouldn’t want any kids I know reading it, but then again I always see kids I don’t think should be in rated R movies too.

    — 29 July 2004 at 2:35 pm (Permalink)

  2. Steven says:

    My understanding has always been that the Ultimate line was supposed to be ‘all ages’ but failed to actually be so. (Why anybody would hire Mark Millar to write all-ages material is beyond me…)

    I just hate to think children are wasting their time with watered-down Mark Millar when they could be rotting their innocent little brains with really good sex-and-violence-packed entertainment, like RoboCop or Pet Semetary.

    — 29 July 2004 at 3:21 pm (Permalink)

  3. Jason Kimble says:

    I think the chopping was pretty much for length and not necessarily a content issue (though in the X-Men case content might have helped focus the chopping). I picked up the Target version of Runaways: Pride and Joy, which I’m under the impression isn’t particularly graphic, and was similarly struck by huge leaps forward in the story and dialogue referencing scenes that I’m fairly confident exist in the original but were nowhere to be found in the edited volume.

    — 29 July 2004 at 4:33 pm (Permalink)

  4. Steven says:

    I see. I suppose the Spider-Man and Emma Frost books we got are probably chopped up as well, then. The most annoying thing, of course, is that the book isn’t labelled as abridged, so there’s no way to know you’re buying a clumsily truncated version.

    — 29 July 2004 at 4:49 pm (Permalink)

  5. Jeff says:

    Hmm. I was under the impression that the Ultimate books were supposed to be geared toward the movie audiences, not necessarily young readers. They’re basically reimagings (or retellings) of Marvel’s classic characters and stories without all the continuity “baggage.” I think I saw the Target versions racked next to the toys last time I was there, but I didn’t even flip through them because I thought they were coloring books!

    — 29 July 2004 at 5:53 pm (Permalink)

  6. Steven says:

    After some Google searching, I have determined that at least some of the Ultimate books are rated All Ages, including The Ultimates and Ultimate X-Men. Unless Marvel is using some weird nonstandard definition of ‘all ages’ (not that that would surprise me), I would expect these comics to have content equivalent to a G-rated movie. (In fact, Ultimate X-Men is rated “G” on Given the general lack of clarity of Marvel’s attempts to publicly communicate its marketing and demographics goals, it doesn’t surprise me at all that there’s a lot of confusion about the intended and appropriate audiences for the Ultimate line.

    — 29 July 2004 at 6:08 pm (Permalink)

  7. Dorian says:

    The editors of “Superman Adventures” thought Mark Millar would be a good choice to write all-ages books…

    — 30 July 2004 at 4:11 am (Permalink)

  8. Shane says:

    I heard that was pretty good and plan on picking up the trades.

    — 30 July 2004 at 5:59 am (Permalink)