Rating: 3/5 – Great art, not accessible to new readers
When I picked X-Men as my Comic of the Week for May 29th I said:
I’ve had a mixed relationship with the X-Men for many years now. I keep on trying to jump on board & then fall off the X-train sooner or later due to an over-abundance of intricate X-continuity being thrown at me issue after issue.
I’m willing to give it a try again. I’m hoping writer Brian Wood will be able to bring me in & keep me going with a story that is not bogged down with lots of stuff that makes me feel like I walked into the middle of a movie.
Unfortunately, I got that “walking into the middle feeling” with this issue. I think this issue will play a lot better with people who are already fans of Marvel X-Men franchise (in the comics). The problem for me is this. We live in a world where the best selling comic sells about half of what would have gotten a book cancelled for low sales 15 years ago. We also have comics movies that regularly pull in 10x the # of people (or more) as the best selling comic book on opening weekend alone. Given the size difference between movie & comics audiences it seems that the comics folks would take some efforts to tailor a series relaunched at a new #1 to be something that is going to welcome in new readers, not just play to the existing fan base.
The art by Olivier Coipel & Mark Morales is great. No complaints there, but I had issues with Brian Wood’s story. I apologize in advance for giving a much more “story summary” review than I normally approve of. In this case, I feel it’s necessary to show why I felt the way I did, I will avoid explicit spoilers.
We start out with a 2-page set up setting up the backstory for the “big bad” of the story arc, kind of cryptic, but I was willing to go with it. Next we see Jubilee with a baby. Where did the baby come from? Am I supposed to know or is this new? At the end of the issue I’m still a bit unsure, other characters seem to not be aware, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t covered in some story somewhere. A footnote or thought balloon (though both are out of fashion in most modern comics) would have been great to let us in on the status quo.
Next we get a quick cut to Xavier’s school for some tension between students that I’ve never seen before & have no idea who they are or why there is an issue between them. On page 11, Rachel (Summers) recognizes the mysterious male character we’ve been seeing since page 1. She names this guy but that did me no good at all, since I didn’t read the story he presumably appeared in before. At least we get the idea from the dialogue that he’s really bad news.
I’ll stop my summary here. I’m 11 pages into a 21 page comic (that costs $3.99). There has been zero action, I’ve recognized about half the characters. Someone familiar with X-Men from the movies has recognized even fewer. Since I’ve been reading X-Men for a long time (but not a lot in the past 10 years) I was able to get the general gist of what was going on. There were some very interesting plot elements set up, particularly with the baby. However, I thought the pacing/clarity were not good for a #1 issue that had any intention of drawing in new readers. I’d consider it an average comic that will likely pick up as the story arc progresses. Stephen (who also reviews for ComicSpectrum, and knows X-Men from the movies) gave this a 2/5, compared to my 3/5. This is an indication that the enjoyment factor seems to be related to your familiarity with the X-Men franchise. If you are a big X-fan, I’m guessing you’ll love this. Those x-fans have undoubtedly already bought this issue. New readers? Caveat Emptor.
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