If you haven’t noticed, the X-Men, and mutants in general, are getting a total facelift. Uncanny X-Men has returned, X-Man is making waves, and a particular energy-blasting hero is back from the dead. It’s an exciting time to be a fan of mutants. Last week served up a shocking Uncanny X-Men Annual with big reveals which had many folks talking around AiPT! and Twitter. This week, Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler take us on an adventure of mutant utopia. Anyone taking bets on how long things will take to go to hell in a handbasket?
So what’s it about?
Read our preview.
Why does this matter?
This new direction for the X-Men serves as something of an homage to “The Age of Apocalypse,” so if you loved that story you’re going to want to tune in for this one. This issue also serves as a jumping off point to other X-Men-centric series coming out soon. It gives you just a taste of what they may be about, so this is an excellent issue to read to see if you’re game to try them all. We recently interviewed the writing team about this very series.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Full disclosure, I have not read every issue of X-Men nor have I been keeping up with every story, but I do my best. That said, I highly enjoyed this issue with its confident pace and interesting subplots introduced. It serves as an introduction to an X-Men team that lives in a world where everyone is mutants. The team, consisting of Magneto, Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Bishop, Jean Grey, and X-Man, almost comes off as an Avengers-type team. They have an impressive headquarters, a clearly defined organization, and they serve as heroes in a world where everyone has powers of some sort. Much like the original “Age of Apocalypse” you’re dropped into this new world trying to figure out what is going on and how these familiar characters are different. It’s a fun exploration of mutants and some of the most popular X-Men ever.
The story opens with the X-Men saving a community from a mutant who has yet to master their skills. There’s an angelic nature to the team and the world, as it seems peace is everywhere. As the story unfolds however, there is unease amongst certain characters and shocking turns as readers realize it’s not as peaceful as one might think. In these bits of shock and awe, Nadler and Thompson hint at where other books in the Age of X-Man are going, like Nextgen, The Amazing Nightcrawler, and X-Tremists to name a few. They even come with handy editor notes to remind you these books will be out soon. This is handled well as it does not come off as cash grab notifications, but instead cleverly turns in the story to pique your interest.
That angelic and peaceful world I was talking about is backed up by some beautifully written captions throughout the book. Captions that make you think about how those persecuted may not understand they deserve better, or in a piece of dialogue midway through that reads, “…thinking for yourself means acting for the world.” It’s the kind of thought-provoking dialogue that makes you stop and think, but also makes this world feel genuine and sincere.
The art is by Ramon Rosanas with colors by Triona Farrell, and letters by Clayton Cowles, and it all comes together to capture this utopian society. The colors have a brightness that almost seems washed out as if this issue takes place in Heaven itself. Rosanas’ art reminds me of Adam Hughes’ work with its thin line and strong faces. It’s like Rosanas carved these characters out of stone. The layout design is at times cinematic with a mix of wide-angled shots that are thinner and great choices for dutch angles to convey a sense of unease if necessary.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
This is a slow boil sort of story that unveils a mystery where there doesn’t seem to be one on the surface. Like Twin Peaks, there appears to be something awry, yet it’s not overt about it. This can make the book seem almost dull on some level. There’s no action, but instead, the action is in the shocking bits of storytelling. I was expecting an action comic considering this is a superhero book and I imagine some might feel like it’s missing this element. It’s worth noting the “answers” in this story are very subtle and don’t deliver a defined direction for the book. Instead, you’ll be drawn in and depending on how interested you are in these characters primed for more, or not.
Is it good?
Having not been deeply invested in the X-Men universe, it’s safe to say Age of X-Man has got me hooked. Where this story goes from here is entirely up in the air, and this issue has made all of these characters and the unique take invigorating. This book has something to say, and it’ll make you think due to the mood, the characters, and the surreal quality of how the story is told. It captures your interest and won’t let go.