I hate to say it, but it does need to be said. Anything included within Marvels crossover titles like Civil War II and the upcoming Secret Empire has been met with a feeling of dread. No, not the suspenseful in your seat kind of dread. Yet hope does remain in some of the more independent titles: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Mighty Thor, etc. Then I heard about ResurrXion, an entire series of comics coming out of the wake of still running titles Uncanny X-Men and Extraordinary X-Men and heavily influenced by the events of Death of X and mutant war with the Inhumans. The one that caught most of my appeal is X-Men: Blue, which consists of the time displaced team of the five original mutant heroes: Jean Grey, Cyclopes, Beast, Iceman, and Angel.
I won’t lie—I’m a Jean Grey fanboy. From her great stories with the X-Men in the Silver Age of comics, to her many deaths (heh), her time as the Phoenix and many incarnations after. Though what really surprised me was that this time around, she’s leading the team. Now the critics will likely yell that we see too much of her from anything X-men related and my response would be: you know what? Good. Despite the overuse of the Phoenix arc she’s a very well written and conflicted character who can arise to many situations. I for one am excited to see her shine, especially when her solo run comes along in May. She’s basically what Barbara Gordon is for me with DC. Clearly I have a thing for gingers…
Jean’s team didn’t have too big of a role in the X-Men Prime one shot that launched ResurrXion, they were around just for Kitty Pryde to observe in the Danger Room only to find out that it was a hologram on loop. Not much was revealed as to why they left, only that it was a question in direction of the students attending Xavier’s school. Clearly the two had polarizing views of what the now deceased Charles Xavier saw in the world and what he wanted to do to fulfill his dream. Now I’ll say this just to get it out of the way. This comic was great. Compared to most of things Marvel has been turning over recently, it’s nice to see them triumph, even if they have to use nostalgia to create appeal.
New Team. Old Faces.
As mentioned previously, the old team is back after being caught in an anomaly several years ago but now they have their own thing going on and whether it is the original team or not, they are much different than they once were. If you read the Guardians of the Galaxy miniseries The Trial of Jean Grey, you’ll remember that it was revealed to a much younger Jean that her older self would one day commit a mass genocide. Though it was not the Phoenix at work, a power is unleashed within her that still instills a fear of just how powerful she really is. It even scares her. That makes her perfect for the leadership role in my opinion. Scott remains mostly the same only now he has to cope with everyone thinking that the elder (and now dead) Cyclopes is the same as he. Bobby on the other hand seems to be flourishing in his new identity, after it was revealed long ago by Jean that he was gay it messed with his mind that he couldn’t tell. Yet in this first issue he seems to melt back into old self, which shows he’s finally beginning to accept himself. (Though are fans after how poorly Bendis handled it?) Hank has apparently become a mystic and can open portals to hell and such now. Angel is of course as cocky as ever, a nice change in heart after his counterparts’ role in Uncanny X-Men.
Overall though, they worked well with one another. The ensuing fight against the Juggernaut was a tough one and they handled at as team should. Testing out all their signature moves to see which one worked best and when none did, they improvised, bringing the hulking giant to his knee, or rather sending him and his knees to Siberia. Seriously though Hank, portals through hell? The interaction between the team members during the fight on the yacht are hilarious but also serious; from Bobby charmingly annoying Scott to death to the caution they display, especially with Beasts new “powers” show us that Jean truly has learned to take on the leadership role.
So we all know that our favorite mutant supremacist turned over a new leaf, sort of. The previews for this comic didn’t leave out that Magneto was to become the new mentor of the rogue X-Men. The whole yacht incident playing out at the start of the comic is suspiciously random. No context was given as to why they were there in the first place but upon arrival it’s clear something was wrong with the scene. The question still burns there though, why were they there? It’s not till the end until we actually see Magneto, but all the points lead to one thing, even before he mentions it. The Hellfire Club. I mean Jean Grey kind of just says it when she calls out Black Tom Cassidy for his arrogant attitude and overall white collar demeanor. Yet, back to the point is we’ve been burned by Magneto before, we know him and what is always his motive for doing anything; the advancement of mutants over humans.
I see this playing out in three different ways. First, Magneto isn’t changed. He’s up to his old ways and using Jean Grey and the team in order to take out undesirables, aka the Hellfire Club, in order to establish himself as their superior. They’ve always butt heads in the past and what would change that? Second, Magneto was truly so overwhelmed by Charles’ death that he truly wants to take up the mantle for himself and that’s where the final one comes. Either this is him trying to remove mutants who would set a bad example for the world (as he has so ironically done for decades) or his mind has become so twisted that he feels the need to correct all his wrongs. We’ve seen the good in him in the current running Uncanny X-Men, but as I said; this is Magneto we’re talking about.
In this debut issue we were also given an interesting post scene in a very snowy landscape. A group of small town hunters trying to defend their hunting grounds from a beast plaguing the local game leads to a merry chase in the woods. When they are set upon by a Wendigo, a strange hooded man appears with three signature claws detracting from his fists. Before seeing his face I bet all of you were screaming Wolverine but oh no, it’s Jimmy Hudson! For those not familiar with him, in the Ultimate Marvel Universe, he’s Logan’s son. He possesses the same powers as his father with the added one of being able to coat his claws in a biological metal. While the purpose was clearly only to introduce him into the universe his purpose can’t really be deduced. We’ll have to wait next month for that one.
This was harder to judge than normal considering the way this comic is drawn changes from going from extremely cartoonish to slightly more realistic with really excellent shading. The fight scenes are incredibly well drawn whether it was too bright or dark. What did bother me a little was that some characters we’re given much more detail than others. For example, Juggernaut and Magneto looked amazing, you could see every scratch on Juggernauts costume while the well placed greys and blacks on Magneto made his character seem so dark, he was almost Batman. On the other hand, out of all the X-men the most standout one was Hank. Everyone else was very bland, even Iceman who on all accounts should be the best looking considering he’s the only one who can change his form anymore. Again it wasn’t terrible but it can definitely be improved.
An excellent start to what could be the start of a great run for Marvel, which we sorely need much more of. The character development and plot devices were used to their potentials and left us with questions we are eager to see answered. The return of these classic heroes and their multilayered and various personalities creates such a choice driven story in which readers will love to choose their favorite characters and stick by them to the very end. The ending was great and should be built upon in the next issue as well as the post credit scene. The art is not perfect, yet whatever is? Saying that is constructive criticism, my way of telling you that you’re doing well, but you can do so much better.
Final Score: 8.5/10
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artists: Jorge Molina and Matteo Buffagni
Colors: Matt Milla
Letters: Joe Caramagna
Images Courtesy of Marvel Comics