With all the Secret Wars announcements going on, the original X-Men’s trip to the Ultimate Universe feels more important than it originally did. It’s been a fun adventure into another world, making the O4 even more lost in time and space than before. There’s been a lot of good character development for Jean Grey in this arc, as she struggles to find confidence in her leadership abilities. Every other member of the team had their own moments of development, making for a very dramatic story. The last issue ended with everyone seemingly defeated at Dr. Doom’s castle, where Beast has been held captive for most of this arc.
All New X-Men 36 is a satisfying conclusion to the Ultimate Universe trip. Starting exactly where issue 35 left off, the teams manage to overcome Doom with overwhelming force before having their fun with his castle. All of the ANXM characters have a little moment in the action, whether it’s Jean waking everyone up, X-23 making good use of her tactical mind or Beast leaving a special “thank you” to Doom for chemically brainwashing him. Most of the Ultimate X-men also have moments of their own. After the fight, they track down the same mutant girl who originally sent them to the Ultimate Universe, Carmen, who also slipped through dimensions.
The dialogue remains entertaining throughout, whether it’s the two Icemen insulting each other, everyone’s reactions to the several other dimensions they look into or Jean’s reaction to reading Tony Stark’s mind. This issue’s only noticeable problem is that Dr. Doom’s dialogue doesn’t really sound much like Doom, but it’s minor since he’s still doing Doom things. Even Laura’s dialogue sounds right. There isn’t as much character work in this issue when compared to the others, but little moments help close off this chapter well. One particular moment hints at a possible something involving Jean Grey in the future. I won’t spoil it, but it feels natural.
Mahmud Asrar’s art is good, but it’s not as good as the last few issues. The opening page shows a lot of detail in the environment after Dr. Doom’s blast, with the X-Men lying on the ground in defeat. The action flows smooth, and the panel where Doom and Jean are firing energy at each other is impressive. While characters remain detailed, there’s a noticeable drop in environmental detail after they leave Latveria. Most panels have blank or simple backgrounds. Even the panels where they glimpse into other universes have plain backgrounds, save for Asgard and the 616 Universe once they find it. That said, the character detail in the Apocalypse ruled universe is great, and makes for a rather frightening glimpse at a world that might rival Age of Apocalypse in its darkness.
While it’s been an emotionally trying adventure for the All New X-men, their trip to the Ultimate Universe is fun from beginning to end. Personally, I hope we see more of Carmen in the future; maybe as a new member for the team. This series remains my favourite of the main X-Men titles with its strong character focus, often fun storytelling and the fact that Brian Michael Bendis writes teenagers very well. His slow burn style won’t work for everyone, but any X-Men fan who hasn’t given his run a chance really should.