Whether you’re a longtime X-Men fan (like myself) or a die-hard Cyclops fanatic (uh, like myself), you’re no doubt X-cited to read how Marvel Comics’ mutant revolutionary met his demise. Creators Jeff Lemire, Charles Soule and Aaron Kuder don’t get to Scott’s death in #1, but they do lay the groundwork for Cyclops’ last stand so well it has me wishing that creepy WikiLeaks guy would go and get me PDFs of the rest of Death of X instead of worrying about Hillary Clinton.
Death of X #1 (Marvel Comics)
It wouldn’t be an X-Man story without complex continuity, right? So for those of you who aren’t caught up with the X-Men’s post-Secret Wars status quo, here are the CliffsNotes:
Toward the conclusion of Marvel’s Infinity event, the Inhumans’ leader Black Bolt detonated the Terrigen Bomb, which created the Terrigen Cloud that’s currently floating around the Earth. The Terrigen Mists are what give the Inhumans their powers, and transformations take place among seemingly ordinary humans (of Inhuman decent) whenever the Cloud rolls overhead. But whoops – turns out it kills mutants! Thanks, Black Bolt, no big deal – X-Men is just one of comics’ biggest franchises. What do you have to say for yourself?
NO, WAIT! DON’T SPEAK, BLACK BOLT, YOU’LL KILL US ALL!!!
Anyway, following the conclusion of Secret Wars, Marvel jumped ahead eight months to show us a world where mutants are close to extinction, Cyclops is dead and tensions between the Inhumans and the X-Men are X-tremely tense. So tense, in fact, they’ll need an entire event to work things out this December (Inhumans Vs. X-Men).
But how did we get to this point? That’s what Death of X promises to tell us. Lemire and Soule waste no time getting to the main event, as Cyclops and a squad of X-Men respond to a distress call from Muir Island. It’s there that Cyclops first learns the terrifying truth about the Terrigen Cloud. Horror film fans, take note – this is the X-Men comic for you. Eerie and suspenseful, thanks in large part to Kuder’s pencils – this is the X-Men facing a threat they can’t punch.
But if you’re looking for some old-school superheroics, you’ll be pleased to know the Inhuman portion of this debut issue is more colorful as they face off against classic Marvel foes. And why not? In terms of society accepting them, the Inhumans are in a pretty good place at the beginning of this story.
I will say, however, that this juxtaposition makes me despise the Inhumans. And I totally realize Nuhuman characters like Flint and Iso didn’t set off the Terrigen Bomb or ask for powers, but as an X-fan, I’d proudly wear a “Cyclops Was Right” T-shirt (if I owned one) as I read the rest of this series. I just feel like the Inhumans are a bit arrogant and I’d like to see them knocked down a peg…or off the shelves (I actually read Uncanny Inhumans regularly, so this is just the bitter X-fanboy in me talking).
But this does point to a bigger complaint I have with a lot of Marvel’s recent stories. I felt like in the original Civil War, the rift between hero factions was justified. But after Avengers Vs. X-Men, AXIS and now Civil War II, I have to wonder if Marvel is trying to make me despise half of their characters. I realize the world isn’t black and white, but if Marvel wants me to see people I’m supposed to like at each other’s throats, I can just scroll through my Facebook Newsfeed after a presidential debate.
On a creative front, if you’ve been happy with the work Lemire and Soule have been doing on Extraordinary X-Men and Uncanny Inhumans, respectively, you’ll be pleased with this prequel. While the writers are two of Marvel’s top talents, their writing is only enhanced by the fact we’re seeing Cyclops and Emma Frost in a comic book again after way too long of an absence.
And then there’s Kuder’s art. I had heard great things about the artist’s DC Comics work, and of course, there’s the recent news that Marvel signed him to an exclusive agreement. I’m happy to report he doesn’t disappoint. His is a detailed style reminiscent of artists Frank Quitely and Chris Burnham, and I look forward to Kuder’s future contributions to the House of Ideas. And, fingers crossed, on a post-IvX X-book.
Oh, I will say, there is a moment in this issue that’s sure to anger many mutant maniacs, so I’ll leave you with a sliver of good news – the next issue also ships this month!
After 50+ years spent battling megalomaniacal mutants, bigoted humans and killer robots, Lemire, Soule and Kuder prove that the X-Men’s greatest threat may just be a cloud – and the story’s so good, that’s okay.