Rating: x/5 – Not All Things for All People, Your Mileage May Vary.
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.
After not reading Marvel’s X-Universe books regularly for several decades, I let Jonathan Hickman’s reboot have a try at pulling me back in. The interlocking mini-series that kicked off the reboot (House of X / Powers of X) worked really well for me, though ‘House’ worked better than ‘Powers’.
The challenge Hickman, and any X-writer at Marvel, must face is pleasing casual readers and also hardcore X-fans who can recite the most arcane X-lore in their sleep. I fall firmly in the casual fan camp. I like the idea of X-Men, and generally love the movies that are distilled down to be consumable by a wider film-going audience. A successful X-book for me is one that I do not have to feel like I need to jump on my computer and do a lot of heavy research to understand what is going on, but that is not necessarily what will please the hardcore fans, because they don’t need to do that research, they can easily call to mind all the backstory being referenced and it enhances the reading experience.
With House/Powers, the reason I liked House more was that I knew just enough about the X-Men and their world that I could pretty much follow along as Hickman unfolded the story. When he jumped to the future stuff in Powers, I got a bit lost on the Nimrod stuff since that is an era of X-Men I skipped. But, to Hickman’s credit, he added enough connective story tissue that I didn’t feel completely lost, resulting in me liking, but not loving Powers, but I didn’t dislike it either.
After my original lapse in reading X-Men in the early 90s, I have tried jumping back on the X-Men train a number of times. I liked Morrison’s New X-Men run, Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men, Bendis’ time-displaced ‘Children of the Atom’. But while I liked the core books by the core writer (Morrison, Whedon, Bendis) X-Men is just not X-Men unless it spawns a tremendous number of related books by other writers. That’s where I get lost. Eventually when the other writers start diving into those corners of the X-universe where I don’t really want to go, I drift away. But, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I am not the primary target audience and as long as those diverse other books are well received by X-fandom in general, then it’s a success for Marvel. This is the challenge with Hickman’s ‘Dawn of X’… With House/Powers complete, Marvel is launching a pile of new series, and true to form, a number of them are not clicking with me:
X-Men: 4.5/5 – Continuing the story from House of X
The main series has me on board for now. It’s continuing the Krakoan story from House of X and even though I am not a big fan of Leinil Francis Yu’s art, I’m sticking with this for the story. This isn’t a knock on Yu’s art, a lot of people love it, it’s just not my cup of tea and I tend to avoid his books unless I am a really big fan of the writer, which in this case, I am with Jonathan Hickman. Sticking with this.
Marauders: 4.5/5 – Rescuing Mutants from Peril
Kitty Pryde is a pirate and calls herself Kate now, her mission is to help rescue mutants from countries that are not friendly to the new Krakoan Mutant Nation, with some Hellfire Club stuff thrown in as well. I’m digging the story Gerry Duggan is weaving here and like the addition of Storm, Bishop, and Iceman (among others) to Kate’s crew. Sticking with this for now.
Excalibur: 3/5 – Betsy Braddock is Captain Britain
This one lost me, which is not unexpected, as I was never a particular fan/reader of previous Excalibur or Captain Britain material. Tini Howard is telling a story that draws on a lot of lore that I’m not very familiar with and issue #1 was not told in a way that made me want to learn more. I had more of the ‘walked into the middle of something in progress’ feeling that I do not really care for, so I’m giving this series a pass. It’s not bad, just not something that grabbed me and made me want to learn more.
X-Force: 4/5 – Black Ops in the ‘Dawn of X’
Marvel describes this as the ‘CIA of the Mutant World’, basically covert ops run by the Krakoan nation. Featuring some mega popular mutants like Domino & Wolverine, we also get Beast, Jean Grey, and Forge in reserve. The theme of getting me to stick with an X-title seems to be how closely it is sticking to and expanding some element of Hickman’s core Krakoan story without pulling in a lot of legacy information that I’m not particularly familiar with (like Excalibur’s Avalon/Captain Britain mythology). They’re bad-asses doing missions for the Krakoan nation. Simple. Sold. Sticking with this for now.
New Mutants: 3/5 – New Mutants in Spaaaaace!!!
This one surprised me, I was going in expecting to absolutely love it. Written by Hickman with Ed Brisson and with beautiful art by Rod Reis that has a nice Sienkiewicz-y vibe, it almost immediately went off the rails for me when the team decides to go off into space looking for Sam Guthrie (Cannonball) who apparently went off to live in space at some point (a bit of lore I was completely unaware of). Very personal hot button issue for me, and not something that should bother anyone else as a matter of course, but I ABSOLUTELY HATE “X-Men in Space” stuff. I know it’s a very entrenched part of X-Lore that has been going on for a very long time, and I have never care for it. Also, Mondo? Not familiar with this refugee from Generation X, I had to look him up on Wikipedia. His entry confirms that he is as lame as he comes across in this issue (Yay! A guy who can absorb dirt!), sorry to all you Mondo fans out there. Hard pass. Dropping this title like a hot space rock.
Fallen Angels: 3/5 – Psylocke is Back as a ‘Pure Ninja Assassin’
Psylocke is a character that rose to prominence in the years I was not really reading X-Men. I knew bits and piece about the character. Betsy Braddock had apparently taken over (or was merged somehow) with the body of a Japanese assassin. Betsy is back in her own body (in Excalibur) and the ninja assassin Kwannon has her own body back in this series as Psylocke. This book was dark… and by that I mean the art by Szymon Kudranski with color by Frank D’Armata was very dark and shadowy on many pages, and I was also not a big fan of the excessive close-ups of eyes, noses, and mouths. This one joins Excalibur on giving me the feeling that I walked into the middle of something that was not fully explained. The fact that the art really got on my nerves just cemented my decision to drop this one.
50/50 on the initial 6 series is not that bad for Marvel given that I was reading a total of zero X-books 6 months ago. The series I’m sticking with (X-Men, Marauders, X-Force) seemed, at least to me) to be more connected in telling a single story, while to ones that I am skipping (Excalibur, New Mutants, Fallen Angels) seem to have gone off on tangents. This makes sense to me since I was pulled into this reboot by Hickman’s “Krakoan Nation for Mutants” storyline, as opposed to having any particular interest in exploring lots of other corners of the X-Universe. Everyone likes different stuff, the ones I don’t care for may be someone else’s all-time favorite. I’m very interested to see this story play out. I’m also interested to see how long Marvel can hold out before they derail the whole thing by pulling it into some big crossover event.
Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
http://comicspectrum.com/ By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics