Now this, is how you give the X-Men a fresh start. A cast that’s youthful and likable, and writing and art that give classic storytelling a modern spin. X-Fans who were underwhelmed with last week’s (now controversial) X-Men: Gold #1 should not pass up X-Men: Blue #1 from writer Cullen Bunn and artist Jorge Molina.
X-Men: Blue #1 (Marvel Comics)
I had a lot of thoughts going into X-Men: Blue #1. As a fan of writers Brian Michael Bendis and Dennis Hopeless’ stewardship of the time-displaced original X-Men, I wondered if Bunn was the right creator to take the baton. After all, I always had mixed feelings about his recent Uncanny X-Men run.
I worried for nothing.
Many of my fears were put to bed after reading X-Men: Prime #1, as I felt Bunn’s scene–meant to bridge the gap between All-New X-Men and X-Men: Blue–was the best of the one-shot’s offerings. Bunn just gets these characters. Yes, the original X-Men were pushed out of their own series to make room for that much more exciting X-Men: Gold cast way back when–but they’re great characters! I mean, these are the mutants who started it all.
When relaunches roll around, new creators occasionally shelve their predecessors’ plots to make room for their own. This isn’t the case with X-Men: Blue #1. Bunn happily builds on what’s come before, from Beast’s new fascination with sorcery to Cyclops’ fondness for his own time period. Flip to any page in this comic and you’ll find examples of great character work coming through in each word balloon.
My favorite character moments: The growing tension between Scott and Hank over the latter’s use of magic, and Scott’s desire to win over Jean, even if it means growing a “hipster beard.”
In terms of this premier issue’s overall story, it’s actually a pretty simple: The X-Men fight the bad guys and save the day. If you’re already aware of how this series twists the classic X-Men formula, you’ll see the last-page reveal coming before you get to it. I knew it was coming, and I had no problem when it arrived. And as Blue and Gold ship twice a month, I won’t have to wait too long to see where this story’s going.
The art by Molina is wonderful. No … exquisite is a better word (because it has an “x” in it). Wide-eyed characters, clean line work, energetic action sequences and vivid colors (via Matt Milla) capture this series’ youthful vibe. And I thought Generation X was going to be the young X-Men book.
While I love the latest takes on the original five’s costumes (really playing with those classic X-Factor color schemes), I wasn’t wild about Juggernaut’s new look. Wasn’t Cain’s costume something the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak gave him? I guess he asked the gem for a makeover … and got pipes on his back?
Oh, did I forget to mention Juggernaut’s back, along with Black Tom Cassidy? Two more elements that make you feel like you’re reading an X-Men comic from yesteryear.
I didn’t dislike X-Men: Gold #1, but I did feel as though it was trying way too hard to let readers know the Inhumans are gone and everything will be alright again. Be more confident, Marvel–I quite enjoyed your recent X-runs! Where X-Men: Blue #1 succeeds, in comparison, is it lets characters we all know and love spread their burning, cosmic wings and fly in new directions. Playing it safe would be bringing Professor X back, putting Scott and Jean back together, and making sure Beast mentions “stars and garters” every other page.
Bunn and Molina avoid the easy road and the result is a debut issue that makes me proud to call myself an X-Men fan. We’re also treated to a backup story (with art by Matteo Buffagni) that sheds some light on those preview images of a certain six-clawed character coming to X-Men: Blue and, as it’s a first issue, a “Things to come” page, of course.
After reading this comic, I couldn’t help but think of that old wedding rhyme (calm down, no one gets married in this comic): Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Well, we’ve got the old (the original X-Men), the new (all the changes they’ve undergone), something borrowed (classic X-Men story elements) and, well, the last one’s obvious, isn’t it?