By Joe Glass, Bleeding Cool's Senior Mutant Correspondent,
The first (of this run, anyway. Will it be the only?) annual of Marvel's All New X-Men packs two stories for the price one, and both contain some of the best X-Men storytelling in a while. And both tackle the current over-arcing plot of the X-Books, i.e. the Terrigen Mists being lethal to mutants, in slightly different tacks: one tackles it head on and makes it a major part of the plot, the other touches on it loosely.
The latter, which is the first story in the issue, is written by Sina Grace, with art by Cory Smith, and colors by Andres Mossa – and though it may touch on the Terrigen Mists plot loosely, it's probably the most that this title with these characters (the regular cast of All New X-Men) have ever really tied into it for some time.
What's more, it's a piece of some of the most classic X-Men melodrama we've had in aaaaaages. Mainly following Idie Okonkwo a.k.a. Oya, and featuring some of the best characterization of that character in a while. In fact, Grace does a wonderful job of marrying her more recent typical American teenager characterization together with her more classic character traits of being more insular, in-her-head and even bringing back her old fears from her origins again.
But more than that, Grace writes Idie, her love interest (did I mention she's going on her first date since Quentin Quire?) and her fellow teen X-Men with such a natural teenage sensibility that they truly do feel young.
Smith backs this up with some great visuals, where thank god, the kids look like kids! It is something so hard to find in comics a lot of the time; teenagers so often wind up looking like adult characters or worse, even old. But Smith here manages to make all the characters look heroic but youthful; experienced but young. Also, when the characters are out of costume, which is most of the story, they are drawn in casual styles that look like a natural modern teenager and not a teen model runway (another danger we sometimes see in comics). With Mossa providing beautiful, muted, natural colors on the art that are warm in the sunlit day scenes and cool in the darker night scenes, the whole story just feels so wonderfully….natural. Something which at times has felt lacking in many books of the X-line for a little while.
Overall, the story is great in and of itself, and frankly, if this is what we can expect of this creative team, then I hope that Grace, Smith et al. are the creative force behind the new, upcoming Generation X series.
The second story of the annual comes from Rex Ogle, Andrea Broccardo and Rachelle Rosenberg and as I mentioned earlier is much more linked into the whole Terrigen Mist plot. Starring Dani Moonstar, we see her battling with the difficulties of her Valkyrie abilities in a world that is filled with death as mutants are plagued (literally) by that putrid green cloud.
Without spoiling the reveal, she goes up against a classic X-character as well as the mists effects on the mutant race. And more importantly, tackling her own anxiety and fears caused by the constant looming death sentence all around her. It's a very well-handled and powerful look at anxiety issues, and showing a character who is as strong as Moonstar tackling such issues too is a great move on Ogle's part.
Art from Broccardo and Rosenberg is clean, clear and paces the story excellently, whilst also having some nice moments of great emotion from the characters.
Both stories end on hopeful notes, which is great and one hopes a sign of things to come in the X-Books once IvX is over with and the ResurrXion begins.
Joe Glass is a Bleeding Cool contributor and comics creator. He is the writer and creator of LGBTQ superhero comics series, The Pride, which has now been collected in a limited edition deluxe hardcover. It's available on The Pride's online store and is also on ComiXology. He is also a co-writer on horror comedy series Stiffs, available here and on ComiXology.