Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Review: X-Men #1 (Vol. 4)

I’m well behind reviewing Uncanny X-Men, though I recently managed to catch up with them so I may be posting a bunch of reviews for those issues pretty soon. Today though I wanted to look at another new X-Men title; X-Men #1. You may remember this as the all-female title with an all-star cast featuring Storm, Jubilee, Rogue, Psylocke, Shadowcat, and Rachel Summers Grey that I talked about a while back. I’ve been anticipating this book for months for a number of reason. For one thing it features three of my Top Ten Favorite X-Men on the roster. It’s a very ethnically diverse title as the cast have a lot more different racial and cultural backgrounds than your typical superhero comic. It’s also is, as far as I’m aware, the first time an X-Men book has featured an all-female cast. This last fact has made a lot of people really angry in a display that I can only describe as “sexist asshole rage”. All the arguments, and I use that term loosely, have been very weak and idiotic. One I heard was the worry that because it’s an all-female team the stories would be really emotional and lacking action because women superheroes having normal adventures is “unrealistic”.

Yeah, that’s dumb as hell. If you subscribe to that than please exit this blog.

Anyway this comic is written by Brian Wood and art by Oliver Coipel (pencils, inks), Mark Morales (inks), and Laura Martin (Colors). Brian Wood is actually well known for writing great female characters though for his part he’s admitted his secret is that he just writes women the same as he would men. So if it’s that simple why do so many male writers do it so terribly so often?

 Full review after the jump.

Jubilee & Son #1
Coming Soon to a Comic Book Store Near You!
Jubilee is making her way back to the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning from Bulgaria with an orphan baby boy in tow but she believes she’s being followed. Once she lands in New York she informs the X-Men of her impending arrival and her suspicions. Storm assembles a squad to rendezvous with the incoming X-Man. Meanwhile the stranger who had been following Jubilee heads directly towards the X-Men’s school. He says he needs their help or else all of them will be wiped out.

For the most part this a pretty accessible issue. You really don’t need to know a heck of a lot about the X-Men to jump right in, which is really good because X-Men comics are notoriously convoluted. Everything you need to know to enjoy the book is in the issue and presented in a way that feels natural. Unlike Uncanny X-Men you don’t need to know anything that’s happened in the last two years to really get it. The biggest problem in this regard is the appearance of John Sublime who is a high concept villain from Grant Morrison hard to follow run on the book from about ten years ago, but even then this book streamlines it very well so that it will make sense to anyone who’s never heard of him.

Wow, that's how Rachel Summers dresses casually?
We don’t spend all that much time with the characters, since it’s only the first issue, but Wood really works well with the small time he has and we get a pretty good idea of who these characters are and what they’re like. There’s a lot of room to explore but that’s why this is an ongoing series. I am especially intrigued about Jubilee, who gets the most development. She’s adopted a child and that’s a pretty huge change from the mall rat teenager with a chip on her shoulder that we met twenty-three years ago (wow, it’s been that long?). I’m intrigued to see how far they go with this. Will the baby be gone after this storyline or will Jubilee continue to play "X-Mom" to the little boy going forward? I suspect this won’t last because major comic book companies, especially Marvel Comics, is allergic to superheroes with families and children but I hope they let her keep it as it would really take her character in an actually interesting direction, as opposed to the crazy bullshit they’d been doing to her for the last few years. Jubilee becoming a vampire? Not very interesting. Jubilee as a mother to a fellow orphan? Interesting. I just hope he doesn't get sent into the future and come back as a gun toting badass, but then again that's more of a Summers family trait.

I liked the artwork for the most part, especially the colors which I think work really well, but at times the backgrounds really look bad and certain figures that aren’t the main focus of a shot seem under drawn. I love the story, for what we see of it, and it has me really hyped to read the next issue. The villain is a little vague but, again, this is the first issue and hopefully it will get more development in forthcoming issues. The dialogue is pretty good though some characters sound a little “off” for lack of a better term. Kitty Pryde, for example, kind of sounds much younger than she should be at this point based on some of the dialogue choices. There’s a little bit of that here and there but nitpicking and shouldn’t be held against the book.

"X-Men, Assemble!"
("We really need a decent rallying catchphrase...")
This is also a surprisingly action packed title considering it’s mostly set up. Anyone who thought there’d be an abundance of touchy feely crap and a lack of high octane fun because the cast are all women now get to eat some crow. If this is an example of what the book will be like then we’re in for a pretty damn exciting ride.

I didn’t have a whole lot to dislike about this book but I did have some questions, foremost being whether or not Jubilee is still a vampire or not. I mean she’s walking around in broad daylight for the whole book and it’s never once mentioned or implied. Now I know that she was supposed to be trying to figure out ways to overcome vampire weaknesses or whatever but this plot point isn’t mentioned. Yes, discussing it may have made the book harder to get into as a new reader but as an old reader who hasn’t been keeping up with the books very well the last few years I really wish I had an explanation. Also I know that Rogue has total control over her powers but I’m not sure what her limits are. Can she use multiple powers at once? She must be able to because she can fly and has super strength in this issue. Could she also have theoretically shot lasers out of her eyes and controlled the weather if she wanted to? Is there a time limit? Another mutant, Mimic, has similar powers but has specific limits to them (he can mimic the powers of five other mutants at half the original strength) and I’d like something similar for Rogue. If there is a limit, or if you know what’s up with Jubilee’s blood sucking habit, feel free to educate me in the comments.

I’ve heard extremely positive things about this book prior to picking it up, some of them saying this was one of the best comics of all time. I don’t know about that but X-Men #1 is an extremely strong start to what I hope will be a good run. Brian Wood has so far made me want to stay on board which is a good sign. If you are new to the X-Men this is a considerably better place to start reading than Uncanny X-Men #1 was (as much as I liked it). I really dug it and if you like X-Men, regardless of their gender, you will too.

F**k you, Marvel Divas!
 I give X-Men #1 (Vol. 4) 4 out of 5 Adorable Pandas.


 -Good story

-Interesting character development

-Pretty good art

-Very accessible for new readers


-Some of the backgrounds aren’t the best drawn

-Is Jubilee a vampire or what?

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