By Marc Strom
All good things must ultimately end.
As Magneto continues his path of destruction through the Ultimate Universe, another series meets its end with ULTIMATE X-MEN #100 from writer Aron Coleite and artist Mark Brooks on March 11.
For Coleite, the prospect of ending the long-running series sent him through a rollercoaster ride of emotions when his editors first told him the news.
"Excited. Frightened. I was 'frexightened,'" Coleite jokes. "I mean, I'd just started into my [first] four-issue [story arc] and they told me that I was gonna finish it out. I just got my feet wet and they threw me a curveball of wrapping up the series. So I s--t my pants and got to work.
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"It's a lot of pressure," the writer adds. "Luckily, I've had Mark Brooks to help me get through it."
When it came time to choose how to end the series and where to leave the characters, Coleite explains that a number of factors influenced his decisions.
"There was a hard balance, because [writer Jeph] Loeb was using a lot of the characters in ULTIMATUM, so I wanted to tell stories that were complementary and also offered a different insight on the same event," Coleite elaborates. "Very similar to how [writer Brian Michael] Bendis used the Avengers titles during Secret Invasion.
"I really wanted to focus on issues of good and evil. A lot of the characters in the X-Men aren't exactly saints. They never were. And yet they still try to be heroes, despite their best intentions."
Coleite's final arc has focused largely on Rogue in a story which the writer sees as fundamentally redemptive.
"Rogue's a character who has done a lot of bad things during her run on the X-Men," Coleite reminds. "I think an event like Ultimatum just makes you think about your
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own life. Have you been a good person? A bad person? Rogue's been both. She always has a lot to prove. Mostly to herself."
ULTIMATE X-MEN #99 ended with the villainous William Stryker telling Rogue that mutants "deserve to be hated and feared" after he watches her tear apart his team of anti-mutant vigilantes, a statement which Coleite says will have a big impact on the X-Men's resident Southern Belle.
"I think she's going to hold it close to her heart and try to prove him wrong," the writer predicts.
Looking back on his seven-issue run on ULTIMATE X-MEN, Coleite says that what he's most proud of is "finishing it. These books challenged me on every level. As a fan. As a writer. I just hope people enjoyed them."
Finally, the writer left off with one last tease for the series' final issue:
"It doesn't star an X-Man."
ULTIMATE X-MEN ends with issue #100 on March 11, but you can follow it from the beginning on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited!
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