There’s a new era of X-Men comics coming your way, and this week, Major Spoilers’ own Matthew and Stephen crack open X-Men #1 and give it a glance.
Title: X-MEN #1
Writer: Victor Gischler
Artist: Paco Medina
Inker: Juan Vlasco
Colors: Marte Garcia
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: Adi Granov
Editor: Axel Alonso
Publisher: Dan Buckley, Marvel Comics
Previously in X-Men: Charles Xavier always knew that he was different. Mostly because he was spear bald at twelve, but also because that lack of hair was caused by the power of his telepathic mutant brain. He spent many years working for the cause of mutant civil rights, creating a team of public mutants to try and show the public that mutants were just people like them. (Dressing them up in carnival costumes with special American Gladiator code-names might have been a mistake in retrospect.) Years later, the few remaining mutants have carved their own little island home and, under the leadership of Cyclops, are still fighting for a place to call their own…
STEPHEN: X-Men #1. It’s always great to be on board a comic when it debuts, full of new characters that no one has seen before, story lines that will dramatically change the way we read comics. And it’s from Marvel too!
MATTHEW: Yeah. The Marvel universe will never be the same. Again. This, my dear friend, is X-Men VOLUME THREE number one, a companion title to the existing X-Men titles: X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, X-Force, X-Factor, X-Campus, X-Batallion, Wolverine, Dark Wolverine, Wolverine Origins, Wolverine Weapon X, X-23, X-Wing Rogue Squadron, X-tra Cheese Supreme, and Emma Frost: Disco Bondage Drama Queen With A Fine Posterior.
STEPHEN: WHAT? Why the heck are we reviewing a number rebranding and making such a big deal of it, then? Oh, wait, I know. We were supposed to do a dueling review of Shadowland #1, but somebody jumped the gun.
MATTHEW: Hey, alphabetically it came first! With three jobs, I’m lucky to know what comic I’m reading, much less what order to review ’em in.
STEPHEN: It’s not big deal. I don’t mind driving three hours to the nearest comic book store to pick up a copy, really…
Anyway…you gotta love a comic book that starts with a vampire exposing himself and then exploding himself across the people hanging out at Union Square. There’s something right on the money when a comic can make suicide bombers relevant to those of us who don’t live in areas that aren’t subjected to this type of act every day. Of course the exploding vampire is only used as a way of releasing the vampire virus into the wild and affecting/infecting those around him, and as the virus spreads, the players emerge from the shadows and we begin to learn their motives.
MATTHEW: I’m mostly bothered by the air of mystery throughout the first part of the issue, given that Marvel has teased the bajeezus out of this, and pre-cursed (see what I did there?) this vampire invasion with a book called “The Death of Dracula.” This “Person of Persons Unknown” schtick seems a little precious given that even *I*, the last guy to buy an X-Men book, pretty much went in knowing what’s up.
STEPHEN: Is it just me, or do you get the feeling that while the Curse of the Mutants storyline is only contained in the X-Men book at this moment, that it will spread throughout the rest of the Marvel universe much like Marvel Zombies did when they broke away from Ultimate Fantastic Four?
MATTHEW: Dear god, I hope not. Marvel Zombies was a fascinating concept, but they went back to the well about three times too many for me. I do expect this to crossover, but I’m kind of hoping that it’s tied to books that make sense. X-Titles, maybe Wolverine calls in the The Avengers. For some reason, the Fantastic Four versus Vampires is just WRONG.
STEPHEN: You know me, I don’t read much Marvel, and I read even less X-Men. My knowledge of the characters extends from the movie to a smattering of issues from the 90s, and of course that Dark Phoenix thing, but I think just about anyone can follow this story without a problem. So in a sense this book may just be a good jumping on point for new readers who want to get into the X-verse with little difficulty. I did like the story, I think for those that follow the vampire genre, this is just another chapter in the Marvel vampire lore.
MATTHEW: That does work for me, although I’m always troubled that vampires look like goth kids or S&M bondage freaks. Where are the vampires who look like Hayley Mills or Lindsey Lohan? (Weelll, maybe that was a bad comparison.) There are really only five X-characters in this book (Wolverine, Cyclops, Angel, Pixie, Jubilee) with a smattering of Storm and a couple of incidental characters… It’s a prelude issue, but I’m not sure if this book is going to have a regular core cast, or just pick and choose mutants for the fun factor.
STEPHEN: I’m really concerned that Dracula was killed last week in The Death of Dracula #1, and I’m hoping that series and X-Men #1 are not connected in some way or I’m really going to be screwed. I did see that Blade makes an appearance in X-Men #2 that arrives next month.
MATTHEW: I hate to say it, sir, but you’re probably in for a disappointment. I haven’t read the Death issue yet, but I believe that it transitions straight into this. As far as the clarity of the story goes, this is a nice fresh start. I hate the cover that I got (The Adi Granov version, returning to the butt-ugly old-school 60’s logo) but the interior art wasn’t bad at all. What’d you think about the visuals?
STEPHEN: The art in this book is the reason I read comics. Everything and everyone is beautiful, the women are hot, and the colors pop and burst across the page to deliver art that I want to see more of. I want to see more of this art team, and if they are only exclusive it Marvel, I may be reading more books from the company.
MATTHEW: Paco Medina does excellent work. I remember him from Suicide Squad (V.2) and I believe he was behind New X-Men Academy not so long ago. I had some issues with anatomy throughout the issue (in the same way that Humberto Ramos occasionally gives me cognitive dissonance) but was impressed by the splash of Wolverine decapitating the trampire. Now that you’re hooked, though, you’ll want more X-Men and more X-Men, and soon enough, we’ll have you wondering what happened to Senyaka…
STEPHEN: So in a sense, the X-Men have their fangs in me now?
My biggest disappointment with this issue was that I paid $3.99 for the book, and thought I was getting a great deal from the sheer number of pages I was getting. The disappointment became really apparent when I found that the Curse of the Mutants story only went through half the issue, with the rest filled with adds and promotions for other X-book, and a sneak peek of Shadowland.
MATTHEW: Honestly, that’s less a complaint about X-Men #1 than it is about Marvel policy in general. Joe Quesada is on record as saying that $3.99 books come out because they want to test what the market will bear. I’m cutting back on my pull list, especially on the $4 portion of my pull list, but either way, I’m figgering $3.50 and up is the new 12 cents.
STEPHEN: Bottom line – I say pick it up. It’s vampire fun mashed up with mutants and if it is everything we’ve been lead to believe – the Marvel Universe will never be the same – AGAIN! I love the art, the set up was fine, it’s progressing like any zombie story should, I’m giving it 4.5 out of 5 Stars.
MATTHEW: Even though I wouldn’t rate it nearly that high, I actually agree with your sentiments… The last time Marvel launched X-Men, it quickly devolved into an incoherent mishmash drawn by guys who slavishly knocked off the superstar artist that launched it, and became retcon-central. This is a much more modest and writer-friendly issue, and as X-books go, it’s relatively free of entanglements and prerequisites and pleasant enough. While I’m not clamoring to find out how it ends, I was at least intrigued throughout the issue and wasn’t overtly annoyed by anything much. It’s a strong start, and worth 3 out of 5 stars overall for me.