The Marvel Ultimate volumes reinvented Spider-Man, the X-Men, and other superheroes for the 21st century by going back to the beginning and starting over. These new versions have been fully cognizant of the history of these comic books and made a point of now having key characters, such as Mary Jane Watson and Wolverine, there from the beginning. However, "Ultimate X-Men" is clearly intended for adults and not for young readers, which is why we have "X-Men: Evolution."
This first trade paperback collection has issues #1-4, written by Devin Grayson ("Ghost Rider: The Hammer Lane," "Black Widow") and illustrated by Udon with Long Vo, Charles Park and Saka of Studio XD ("Deadpool," "Taskmaster"). The story begins with Professor Charles Xavier persuading the first mutants to join him. In #1 "Lines in the Sand" these first mutants turn out to be first Ororo (Storm) and then Logan (Wolverine), although Magneto tries to recruit the latter as well (the Mutant Master of Magnetism already has Mystique). Magneto congratulated Xavier on his success, but wants to know what Charles is building with his recruits if not an army? The answer, of course, is going to be a school for "gifted youngsters" (a.k.a. mutants) but Grayson is clearly taking a different approach.
In #2 "Seeing Clearly" Scott Summers (Cyclops) is brought into the fold and goes on his first mission with Wolverine, while in #3 "Hearing Things" Jean Grey is brought by her parents to the school so that Xavier can help her stop hearing everything everybody is think. At this point it is clear how things are going to be different and you can pretty much explain it all in terms of Scott Summers. No longer is he the first X-Men; that honor know goes to Ororo, who is clearly established as the mother figure in the new X-Men (with Logan as the Dutch Uncle apparently). But Scott, who was always one of the most reticent of heroes, is now talking a blue streak. Of course he is still smitten with Jean, but it is a totally different vibe this time around, more in the grand tradition of a geeky teenager. This leads to the other big difference, which is that Scott, Jean, and the other teenage X-Men are not attending classes at Xavier's institute but at nearby Bayville High.
Scott and Jean are already going to Bayville in #3, which is the point in "X-Men: Evolution" where the prologue is over. That is because in #4 "Am I Blue" we are suddenly done with Xavier collecting new students and Kurt Wagner (Nightcrawler), Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat), and Rogue (Rouge) are already in residence at the Xavier Institute and heading off to school at Bayville. At this point there are no evil mutants to fight and the biggest problem facing our young heroes is an English Composition Essay "What I am at home that I can't be at school?" Kurt is especially perplexed by this one, which is understandable since he is the only one of the kids who has to use an image inducer to go to class.
The X-Men started out as a group of teenager superheroes, the best counterpart to Peter Parker's teenage angst in "Spider-Man," but when the new and improved international X-Men were put together by Claremont and Cockrum they were clearly a lot older. With "X-Men: Evolution" the goal is clearly to get back to the original vision but with more realism in terms of the contemporary teenage experience. After all, what high school student cannot relate to the concern over being considered a "freak" by their peers? This approach also has the advantage that, at least to begin with, Wolverine is in the background and not even close to dominating the series the way he is in "The Ultimate X-Men." The result should be interesting to younger readers, but the true test will come with these X-Men have to actually start battling Magneto and his Evil Mutants.