Eisner-Award nominated writer Jeff Lemire and artist Humberto Ramos bring us a brand-spankin’ new X-Men team as part of Marvel’s All-New, All-Different initiative.
Is it good?
Extraordinary X-Men #1 (Marvel Comics)
In recent months, the X-Men have been dealing with some harsh crap in their lives: the Terrigen Mists from the Inhumans have had a nasty side-effect on them, killing some and sterilizing everyone else. Plus, due to some unknown repercussions that Cyclops caused, now the world doesn’t fear mutants, but just hates them to the point of trying to brutally kill them wherever they find them. Storm has an idea… but it’s one where they might need to get the gang back together to pull it off.
Extraordinary X-Men #1 is thankfully a very easy book for newcomers to jump into. The comic does a solid job of introducing the characters and displaying their personalities/power sets through various scenes that see the team finding other mutants in the world or fighting others. Outside of some specific instances, like Jean Grey still being around and not having returned to the past, there’s nothing here that should be difficult for new and old readers to figure out and follow along.
Jeff Lemire’s writing is solid, especially great in the characterization and dialogue departments. The scenes with Magik, for instance, are particularly enjoyable and the way she interacts with the others and the emotions she displays fill the book with plenty of believable pathos. The pacing is also good and the comic is structured well, making things easy to follow as we jump around between several different characters and events.
Humberto Ramos’ artwork is probably going to be one of the iffier things on the comic for people, but sans his weird musculature (which I’ll get to), he does a good job here. His characters do look like who they are supposed to be; the facial and body language in the characters are pretty good, the action, while brief, does look impressive and has a lot of energy to it; his layouts are constructed well, and there’s striking imagery that jumps out at you (like Magik making her first appearance in a cool looking double page spread). While there is something to be said about his characters, Ramos’ artwork is nice and you can easily see why he was chosen to draw this comic.
Now, what is going to be probably the biggest problem for people (in this case, longtime fans) is the crux of the book’s storyline: the whole world now just completely hates the X-Men and myriad mutants are sterilized. The fact that mutants are completely hated feels like a bit of a step backwards, especially since it undoes the work Bendis did on his X-Men run. The sterilization also paints the Inhumans in a negative light, which makes very little sense to me; after all, aren’t they are trying super hard to push the Inhumans right now? And they suppose the best way of doing that is making them the cause of the problems that the X-Men are experiencing? Could be a turn-off for some.
The other problem with the book is Ramos’ artwork. While his work is mostly solid like stated before and everyone looks like who they are supposed to be, musculature is all over the board, with people being way too thin and scrawny to people being very massive and bulky; characters’ heads are too small for their bodies or their hands are too big; characters’ fingers meld together in some panels and the length in arms and legs feel inconsistent in others. Ramos’ obviously has a more stylized look for his artwork, but it’s rather disconcerting at times to look at if it’s not your bag.
Is It Good?
Extraordinary X-Men #1 is a good first issue for new readers just jumping into the X-Men franchise, while problematic at times for returning ones with its questionable plot points. Jeff Lemire does a great job writing the book, while Ramos’ artwork is good as long as you don’t look at the characters for too long. In the end, Extraordinary X-Men is one of the better new series to come out of the Marvel’s new relaunch and I look forward to where it goes next.