WRITER – JONATHAN HICKMAN
ARTIST – PEPE LARRAZ
COVER ARTIST – MARTE GARCIA
LETTERER – CLAYTON COWLES
Ambitious. That was my first thought when I heard that JONATHAN HICKMAN was being put in charge of the X-Men re-launch. It’s the one thing that brought me back to a universe that I stepped away from about 4 years ago after multiple re-launches. I’ve read Hickman’s runs on the Avengers, and Fantastic Four and knew , with him being one of the best “world builders” in the business, that he could get the franchise back on track. JONATHAN HICKMAN is a novelist who just happens to have illustrations with his novels. For wordsmiths, him just being named to the project was a win. Now onto the review.
Overall, I did enjoy the book. I read it twice as there is a lot there to unpack as someone who has been outside the X-universe for a while. A few of the characters look different (will take me a while to get used to seeing Professor X look like that) and there were some new faces(both human and mutant), but I never really felt lost at any point in time, and upon my second read I had a much clearer picture of where this group of X-Men were at and the threads that tied them together. Some of your favs aren’t front and center, but it’s a 12 part series between HOUSE OF X and POWERS OF X and there is plenty of time to get the roster fleshed out. This first chapter had a nice slow burn feel to it which is what it should have.
The first chapter also laid the groundwork very methodically to show you the culture that has formed around the X-Men. Each transitional scene ends with a look at a new language, new power levels, new olive branches to a human race that may yet bridge the divide(vague I know, but I meant what I said by “non” spoiler),A look at the lands, factions of mutants and much more. This book clocks in at about a 45 minute read and HICKMAN fills every minute and details and character driven dialogue. It felt a bit like a chess match where the board was being set for the long term game to come.
There is always that question with any re-launch I find. Is this a good jumping off point, as much as it is a jumping on point?Overall the groundwork JONATHAN HICKMAN has begun to lay feels like this is for folks who have not been long time followers of the X-Men, and it seems continuity from the previous X-Men series was not a high priority in his mind. There’s was one glaring example of this, but it was not anything I really minded and made for an interesting new direction for the character.
There is a much different vibe to this re-launch then previous ones in that it seems the mutants seem to feel they are on much more equal footing with the human race then ever before. Magneto’s demeanor through the entire book is not one of fear, hostility or divisiveness. I could say the same for Cyclops. It’s simply a statement of -this is how mutants are going to exist with humans and this is how their idea(and a brilliant piece of story telling idea that it is)is going to work. Take it or leave it. This first chapter feels as much a societal story , as a political one and the point, counterpoint dialogue between humans and mutants in the story over mutants place in the world and the distrust that is still there makes for some wonderful conversation.
PEPE LARRAZ’S art was a wonderfully detailed addition to this story. I’ve noted before that facials expressions can say so much and they had plenty of opportunity to do so this issue. From Cyclops firm stance with some old friends, to the last panel of the story, some beautifully rendered art told a secondary story without words. The X-Men felt both gritty and elegant this issue which suited the story. Also, of note, Beautifully done illustrations of the landscape of Krakoa also. I felt this was also a pretty cool nod to Giant Size X-Men #1 which also felt like the beginning of a new era.
If you’ve been looking to get back into the X-Men your probably not going to get a much better opportunity then this. JONATHAN HICKMAN seems like he has a long term plan in mind. I’d be pretty happy if we could get 50 really good issues out of this run. Time will tell.
Til next time