Universe X is the follow up from Earth X, released a year later. Given the success of the first book, Marvel decided to expand the scope of the story so Universe X is split into two volumes. One volume contains issues 0-7, and supplemental issues of Spider-Man, 4, and Captain America. The second volume collects 8-12, X, Beasts, Iron Men and other materials. Again written by Jim Krueger with art by Alex Ross, Doug Braithwaite, Bill Reinhold, and Garry Leach as they continue telling their epic dystopian future tale of the Marvel Universe.
When we pick up our story, the heroes in the brink of a civil war, with the overwhelming majority of humanity not wanting to give up their powers, and the superheroes who are left have to fight those they used to protect. This book features more obscure heroes and villains, and to someone who has read a lot of Marvel Comics and was more interested in characters other than the BIG ONES, this is welcomed. I liked that it was lesser known characters, like The Absorbing Man, who became a big time villain in this series.
Krueger does a really interesting job distilling the Marvel Universe into a cohesive, if quite expositional, story. By taking apart the original mythos and offering an interesting perspective, he is able to tie in many disparate ideas into a single story.
The art is also a bit brighter here than I originally remembered, but I can understand that to be in part due to the save that happened at the end of Earth X. Because of the success of the first series, they added more and more content for the sequel, which adds complexity to the story, but also makes the investment (money and time) quite a bit more daunting. As with most sequels, you could dive into this, but you would be lost very quickly. Read Earth X first before continuing along with Universe X.
In our own life, we try to find the real reason things are happening in the world. This is very much the same in comics. Often times, the first explanation for an event or origin story is changed, and it’s revealed a new origin for a character. This happens with varying degrees of success. In Universe X, Jim Krueger attempts to change, yet again, the believed to be reason for superhumans in a cosmic sense. If you look to deeply, the cracks may show.
But this is an interesting idea and since this is a future take on the Marvel Universe, I can accept this and move on reading the book. Krueger uses this to explore deeper themes and greater understanding of the comic that sheds light onto the inner workings of the cosmic chaos and order within Marvel.
An interesting concept, and one ripe for the serialized format of comics, is that characters you believed have died, are actually shunted into another world where they continue the fight – believing that they are still alive not dead. The climax of this story sees Captain Marvel and the personification of Death in final battle. This only makes the consequences much greater in the real world, when the undead world has to cease and true death sets in.
All in all, this is a fine sequel. It hits some great notes, but could have been condensed and been told just as well. The story picks up speed in the second volume and if you’ve stuck through until that point, you really should see it through.