There is little doubt that the X-Men relaunch led by Hickman, Yu, and Silvia in House of X/Powers of X has been the shot in the arm Marvel needed from its mutant books. The concurrent mini-series took the existing continuity, characters and mythos while giving the X-Men a new direction: one where they have mastered death and controlled their own nation with the capability to negotiate peace and acceptance from the human world that hated them. The book sold extremely well and brought renewed interest to what would come next.
Dawn of X is the title given to all the X-books released by Marvel following the end of HoX/PoX. While having all the books deal with the ramifications of this new status quo for mutants, they have each been allowed to develop their own direction and tone. I have not loved every issue, and some of the ongoing series are stronger and more coherent than others, but it is easy to appreciate that the books exist in a manner that does not require reading every run in the relaunch to appreciate or enjoy it. Each series feels distinct and driven by their creative teams rather than restrictive editorial control.
Not that Marvel hasn’t tried to give hardcore X-Men fans the sense that we need to be reading them all. Each issue includes a reading order listing all the other books in the relaunch and where a specific issue fits into the larger story. While I wholly welcome these notes in each issue, they are generally unnecessary as each series is (currently) telling its own internal narrative.
The reading order found in each issue does help explain this specific trade and may provide insight into how Marvel is going to approach the X line in the coming year. Dawn of X Vol. 1 is made up entirely of the first issues from the initial six books that came out of HoX/PoX (X-Men, X-Force, Marauders, Excalibur, New Mutants and Fallen Angels), rather than a complete story arc from a single series. As David Brooke has already done a stand-up job reviewing those individual issues, this review will focus on the book itself and this approach to publishing a larger comic universe.
This way of collecting the current X-books is likely not for everyone. Personally, however, I quite like this method. Since I read every book in the line as it is, I would prefer to have them all in a single trade every month. The means used to collect these issues reminds me a great deal of the monthly manga trades published in Japan made up of many simultaneous, separate stories from different creators. Unlike those manga collections, which often are printed in black and white newsprint and meant to be disposed of, this trade looks and feels premium. The end of the book includes all the variant covers that Marvel is keen to print in the modern age, a nice addition which gives this collection the upper hand to my usual single-issue consumption.
I don’t like everything about this method of collecting the X-books. For those of us who wish to stay current, this book is simply too late to be a useful way to follow the line. We are now six issues into all of the books reprinted here. If you were interested in any of the Dawn of X relaunch books, you will likely purchase one of the trades that collects the first 4-6 issues of an individual series. Nor does this operate well as a sampler, as one of the books (Fallen Angels) has already been canceled.
Having said that, I wish Marvel would follow this publishing model in addition to their single issues each month. If they were able to collect the entire output of the line within a week or two of the month’s completion, I would make this my main method of buying these books. They will be releasing the next five volumes in this line in the coming two months, so perhaps Marvel is playing catch-up and will publishing subsequent volumes closer to the individual issue release dates.
Overall, much like I applaud the fresh air brought by the Dawn of X relaunch, I appreciate Marvel’s willingness to adjust their publishing model to match the demands of the current era.