By Joe Glass, Bleeding Cool's Senior Mutant Correspondent
IvX #1 gives us something that the issue 0 did not: actual events!
Written by Charles Soule and Jeff Lemire, with art by Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan and David Curiel, we get a story where a bit more happens, thankfully. Only a bit more, though.
As events openers go, it's not the greatest or most explosive. For much of the issue is a 15 page 'inciting incident' of a group of characters stood around a room talking. Not a Civil War massive explosion killing innocents; not a Siege massive explosion killing innocents; not a Secret Wars massive explosion…killing…the multiverse? Err, no, this time, it's several of the X-Men big hitters (and bizarrely, Young Beast) standing in a room on Muir Island going around in circles and discussing things.
This, sadly, slows down much of the story, and instead of serving to build the tension or illustrate the complexities of the conflict, it serves mainly to reiterate numerous continuity plot points over the course of the last year. It feels like this may be to get new readers up to speed, but this event really does not feel like a good jumping on point for new readers, to be entirely frank. For example, at one point Beast mentions how he's seen Black Bolt vaporise his own son to protect his people, which for those who have been staying up to date feels like 'We know!' and for those coming in blind would surely just be like, 'Whoa, wait, what?!'.
But as much as this may seem overly critical, the truth is the issue is pretty good. It's nice to see the X-Men finally get more proactive and less into running and hiding about this whole Terrigen business, and a tense fight scene between Emma Frost, Black Bolt and a mystery third character I won't spoil here (though it's pretty heavily telegraphed in the first few pages) is genuinely exciting and suitably bad ass. Also, Karnak versus teen Jean was a nice little take on things.
The art for the issue is great. It is quite a difference from issue zero's bright, colourful work from Kenneth Rocafort, which was a lot of fun, and I would have been happy to see more of. But Yu et al. have a darker, more shadow heavy style that also adds strength, weight and gravitas to the characters. I get the feeling when the big fights start in earnest, they will feel powerful because of this art.
It's not all perfect: as well, or as part of, the big 'inciting incident' chat, Beast (the blue fuzzy one) comes across as weirdly weak and cowardly, with his insistence mutants should just run away from the Terrigen problem and that the only solution is to set up on another planet. This feels a little bit of a disservice to the character, and given how the zero issue seemed to intimate that he was losing his trust in the Inhumans, it was a little surprising.
There are still a few mysteries, I think, revolving around the whole story. We still don't know who the mystery woman that Emma was talking to at the Hellfire Club in IvX#0 was (unless it was meant to be the mystery third character in the Emma vs. Black Bolt match-up, in which case this is never made clear and also doesn't really make sense for that character); we still don't know why governments are not all pissed with the Inhumans over the Terrigen thing – sure it mainly means bad things for mutants, but also, not everyone going through Terrigenesis survives the process. Apparently, the world's governments have been okay with that? And we still don't know how the world/other mutants' opinions on Cyclops got so negative and screwy, but I think this is something that will not be explained and we're just expected to accept.
Recently, Soule gave this answer on the whole question of how did public and more importantly his team-mates' opinions turn so against Scott Summers in a recent CBR X-Position interview,
The key here is in one of Scott's (well, Emma's, really) last lines: "You've got a story, I've got a story. It doesn't matter which one is true. It matters which one is believed." So, here's what we know — the things that happened in "Death of X" happened as we saw. By the time the various "X" #1s began, public opinion had turned way against Scott. Remember that not every mutant was present, nor every Inhuman. The events were shaped by public opinion and through the viewpoints of people who saw them — or didn't. In the world we live in today, this seems extremely plausible. People believe things firmly based on a single headline — they don't even have to read the article. "Death of X" is already a tragedy on many levels — in part because Emma does so much in Scott's memory that becomes increasingly terrible — but then when you realize that people end up believing whatever the hell they want to despite what seem to be the available facts… well, it's even sadder.
So either we're supposed to believe that events occurred that we didn't see too that twisted the story and thus public opinions, which seems like a terrible case of telling and not showing, and worse, telling OUTSIDE of the context of the story; or we're to believe the Inhumans spread disinformation about the actual events that occurred? Sadly, this also doesn't entirely work: one character who was definitely there and also part of Scott/Emma's plan was Magik – and yet, we see her being quite violently angry with those who were part of the events of Death of X. Surprising, as not only was she a witness, she was a participant, and thus for her, this argument doesn't stand up.
Overall, I think that sadly, Inhumans vs. X-Men has become bogged down in various continuity fluffs and story beats that have really slowed down the start, but by the end of this first issue, things seem to be picking up for a fun, action-packed event. It will be fun to see how some of these match-ups and face offs work out, and how exactly we get to what we know is coming in ResurrXion.
Joe Glass is a Bleeding Cool contributor and comics creator. He is the creator and writer on LGBTQ superhero team series, The Pride, which is available on ComiXology and the Online Store. He is also co-writer for Welsh horror comedy featuring a monkey, Stiffs, which is also on ComiXology and has an online store.