As an X-Men fan, I have felt rather bereft these last few years. While there’s been spots, for example, I’ve enjoyed All-New Wolverine or X-Men Red, it feels like somewhere along the line the X-Men I loved had disappeared. Part of that has been a constant feeling of recycled old stories and a lack of forward-thinking books like New X-Men or Generation Hope. As a result, it has been hard to remain attached. Cue Jonathan Hickman and what may be the most sweeping and futuristic issue of an X-Men comic since Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s first issue of New X-Men.
The comic makes several promises out of the gate. The cynicism and hopelessness of those recent X-Men comics? All gone. The book kicks off with a literal rebirth and a much-needed infusion of vitality and hope that peppers the comic. All the old favorites are there: Cyclops, Professor X, Magneto, Wolverine, and more. There’s also the promise of sweeping expansion, new threats, and a more authorial touch on the part of Hickman. That last part is especially important given how X-Men comics were increasingly resembling other X-Men comics of yore rather than a new and distinct comic book. Hickman’s use of graphs and charts to give that more espionage-flavored feel of his earlier comics is more present here and it really is needed to make this feel like a Hickman X-Men comic, rather than just another in the sea of Claremont/Byrne carbon copies.
Pepe Larraz does some of his finest work here. While he’s been showing up in a lot of different Marvel books of late, part of why this issue works so well is down to him. The character acting, the energy, and tone are all distinct to each character and setting. In an issue that has a minimal amount of action at that, that’s impressive. Marte Gracia also does some of his finest work here. Considering the range of environments from Westchester, to Krakoa, to the depths of space, the range of colors here are appropriately diverse and lush for a comic of this scope.
As someone who was already likely to love this comic, I was satisfied. I did not expect to be blown away as much as I was here. This is the beginning of an X-Men run you’ll only see once in a generation. Hickman is playing for keeps here and I aim to be there from start to finish.
5 Flowers Out of 5