When Marvel shook up their Ultimate universe the trigger was a colossal tsunami engineered by the mutant Magneto. The X-Men died and in the aftermath anybody classed as “Homo Superior” was instructed to surrender to the authorities or be shot on sight.

Ultimate X: Origins is the starting point for rebooting the line. It opens with sixteen year-old wild-boy Jimmy Hudson, terrifyingly discovering his true origins when he inexplicably survives a street-racing car-crash and is visited by a mysterious girl named Kitty Pride. She comes bearing a hologram message from the dead mutant-hero Wolverine, which explains the boy’s incredible healing ability and the bony claws that keep inconveniently popping out of Jimmy’s knuckles.

“Karen Grant” finds all her carefully completed precautions to stay anonymously under the radar are for nought when her wannabe-boyfriend posts her picture on the internet, drawing the attention Tsunami-survivor Jean Grey was desperately trying to avoid. When evil mutants Mystique and Sabretooth confront her in the mall where she works the result is spectacular destruction. Karen flees again, only to be found by Jimmy Hudson.

In Chicago winged vigilante Derek Morgan can’t escape his troubled past or hard-ass cop brother who wants to turn him in to the Mutant regulators. Fortunately that’s when Jimmy and super-psionic Karen Grant show up.

In California Liz Allen thinks she’s sacrificed enough. Leaving New York, discovering she’s a mutant and having to put up with a half-brother dubbed “Tubby Teddy” who’s the spitting image of their deadbeat dad Fred Dukes – better known as the monstrous Blob – should be enough grief for any girl. However, when Teddy’s only friend brings a gun to school and starts using it, the siblings’ secret powers are exposed all over the TV News. Moreover his invulnerability is nothing compared to the fiery conflagration her own abilities spark off.

The volume concludes as Karen’s “X” gang is forced to recruit some heavy-hitting power after Sabretooth almost kills Jimmy.

X: Origins is the prelude to a new Ultimate Comics X-Men series, which isn’t germane to the enjoyment of this classy “gathering of heroes” tale by the always impressive Jeph Loeb and the phenomenally impressive Arthur Adams.

Even though far more upbeat and exuberant that the usual Ultimate fare, the trademark post-modernity and cynical, dark action still delivers the grim ‘n’ gritty mileu. It makes a good read for anybody thinking on jumping on to decidedly different world of wonder: one which will resonate with older readers who love the darkest side of superheroes and casual readers who know the company’s movies better than the comics.