With a kind of optimism and brightness that's, frankly, been missing in action for Marvel's merry mutants, X-Men #1's new take on the classic franchise doesn't lose any of the complexity of its new nation-minded motives. However, the water is still muddy, as some details are still deviled as we proceed.
The X-Men have always been rich, but the X-Men are now Sheldon Adelson, George Soros kind of rich. Using funds from their life-giving pharmaceutical business, they're enjoying the fruits of a billion-dollar Manhattan real estate deal to build … a Treehouse. With the genius of Forge, Synch, and Tempo at work, they've erected an eighteen-story high, data and security infused tree in the middle of Manhattan and set a high-tech literal treehouse in the skyline. They're right in time to be so on-the-spot as a threat literally drops out of nowhere that is perfectly poised for them to prove themselves but wildly, dangerously unqualified to fulfill its actual objective, like sending a toddler into a police station and saying, "go on, kill all of them, honey."
Gerry Duggan runs this plot like a racehorse, squeezing as many beats into it while still trying to give character moments like a kiss between Scott and Jean (their relationship has never been better) or a chat with Ben Urich or camaraderie between Forge and Synch. The artwork of Pepe Larraz, Marte Gracia, and Clayton Cowles is great at framing these scenes as iconic — Rogue's looking ready for a poster with her flight over Manhattan and the X-Men borrowing a page from after school cartoons is a great visual smorgasbord.
The challenge, alas, is in their opposition. You can't see how great the X-Men are (even beating the Avengers and the FF to the scene) with opposition so bland and so unidimensional with ideas so easily confounded. This did not heed the call to "bring on the bad guys" herein.
Still, this is really good for fans of the franchise, and they'll dig in for more of this without hesitation. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.
By Gerry Duggan, Pepe Larraz
THESE X-MEN ARE … FEARLESS! The heroes of Krakoa are here to save the planet! Things might be complicated between the nation of Krakoa and the rest of the world, but to the X-MEN, things are simple – you do what's right, you protect those who need protecting and you save the world we all share. Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Sunfire, Rogue, Wolverine, Synch and Polaris are the chosen champions of mutantkind, and they will not shrink from any battle for their home planet. Writer Gerry Duggan (MARAUDERS, DEADPOOL, UNCANNY AVENGERS) reteams with superstar artist Pepe Larraz (HOUSE OF X, X OF SWORDS, UNCANNY AVENGERS) to chart the course of the X-Men in a world of the Reign of X!