Any graphic novel with an Ultimate Comics title is part of one vast story about a world disintegrating. It begins in Ulitmate X: Origins, which is where troubled sixteen year-old Jimmy Hudson discovered his real father when fugitive Kitty Pride turned up bearing a hologram message from the fabled mutant-hero Wolverine. The device also explained the boy’s incredible healing ability and the claws that keep inconveniently popping out of his knuckles whenever he’s stressed.

This canny thriller is deftly written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by David Messina, and simultaneously explores the past and outlines the future of Jimmy Hudson: troubled offspring of the mutant legend who gave his life to end Magneto.

It occurs after the events of Ultimate Comics X-Men: Divided We Fall, United We Stand, as a world that shakily stumbled from crisis to catastrophe has settled into its new form, but begins a flashback to earlier times. S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Wolverine and his support team are closing in on an assassin targeting Senator Gregory Lee.

Back in the present, Jimmy is again watching the recorded messages on his father’s hologram disc when mutant technopath Black Box bursts in. The kid’s uncanny affinity with machines has detected a hidden message underneath the transmission. Soon Hudson and Black Box have left the Mutant Nation far behind and gone in search of Wolverine’s final bequest – a coded message concerning something called Project: Mothervine. Meanwhile, across the continent, human agents tasked with monitoring the long-dormant Mothervine are suddenly, sadistically despatched by mutant Machiavelli Quicksilver.

The past is as important as the present as multiple flashbacks interrupt Jimmy’s current progress, in what becomes a superbly sinister drama of spooks and monsters. Moreover, as with all great spy stories, Legacies ends with portentous foreshadowing and the promise of more mayhem to come.

This is a craftily wry, cynical yet revelatory shocker and one more breathtakingly effective yarn only possible outside the Marvel Universe. It should resonate with readers who love the darkest side of science fiction and superheroes, as well as casual readers more au fait with the company’s movies than the comics lore.