X-Men #1 is the latest addition to the X-Book scene. Can this cast of X-Men survive in a crowded world of mutant misfits when it doesn’t even garner an adjective? Your Major Spoilers review of X-Men #1 awaits. (Hint: with Brian Wood and Oliver Coipel taking care of business, the answer is probably.)
Oliver Coipel’s fantastic art
Fast-paced, high concept story
May confuse new X-Men readers
Last page reveal did not land
Writer: Brian Wood
Penciler: Olivier Coipel
Inkers: Mark Morales and Oliver Coipel
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: Oliver Coipel & Laura Martin
Editor: Jeanne Schaefer
Publisher: Marvel Comics
When this title was rebooted and solicited, a lot of hay was made about the book featuring an all-women cast of X-Men (and the less said about the “durr why isn’t it called X-Women” jokes, the better). I am pleased to report that Brian Wood is more concerned with writing a good story than he is preaching politics. While it is a bit questionable to have a purposely female-centric cast all caring for a baby, X-Men #1 otherwise sidesteps the swampy morass of gender issues and delivers a great first issue. The story is first and foremost here, and it’s about adventuring mutants doing adventure-y things (who just happen to all be women).
BABIES FROM SPAAAAAAACE
X-Men #1 centers around Jubilee travelling from Hungary to Westchester with a mysterious orphan baby in tow, who may or may not have something to do with a mysterious meteorite. She doesn’t seem to be a vampire anymore (if you don’t know, don’t ask), but has been out of the fold for a while now. In the interest of providing a home for the child, she wants to rejoin her X-Family and come back to the fold. But unfortunately, a threatening man seems to be following her home, forcing Storm, Shadowcat and Rogue to intervene, while Rachel Summers and Psylocke get some work back at the school. And naturally, this is no simple baby.
While his voice for Rogue is a little off-model, it’s alright. Brian Wood gives everyone a moment to shine. I could already feel how this cast will fit together. There’s a little action, good character work, and a nice set-up for the first arc. What Wood does not do well is introduce the characters. If you don’t know who John Sublime is or what all these characters powers are, you won’t learn about it here. Not properly establishing the protagonists for a wider audience beyond the X-Book diehards is an issue #1 no-no. And personally, this partially ruined the last page reveal, since I have little-to-no history with that surprise character, so just quite why they are supposed to be so scary was lost on me.
FRESH AND CLEAN
The art on X-Men #1 is fresh. From the opening page, you can see that Oliver Coipel is doing work. There is a lot to love about his style – it’s detailed, dynamic, he handles action and static shots equally well. But what I really want to sing the praises of are his faces. Some comic book artists have trouble making their characters expressive, but when a talent like Coipel is able to do it so easily, a reader could easily take it for granted. It adds so much to the story to have the characters actually reacting non-verbally. This is already one of the best-looking X-Books out there, and I hope Marvel can keep this creative team together for quite some time.
BOTTOM LINE: MAKES ITS CASE
Some might ask if we needed another X-Men title in such a crowded market. On the face of it, it’s a hard sell. Psylocke and Storm are heavily featured in Uncanny X-Force, Shadowcat has a prominent role in All New X-Men, and Rogue and Rachel Summers are able utility players in a few books. But a book this good-looking and this fun doesn’t need to do more to prove itself than simply exist. This is a straight-up entertaining first issue, and I will be adding this to my pull-list, plain and simple. I like that Wood is playing with the high-concept, living bacteria John Sublime character from Grant Morrison’s transcendent run. It tells me that this is going to be a book with big ideas. It might not tie into the larger Marvel universe in the same way that Uncanny X-Men and similar titles do, but it does seem to be geared to telling big, interesting stories with an exciting cast. What more could you want? X-Men #1 earns a well-received four out of five stars. Check it out.