X-Men #1 Review

X-Men #1 Cover

A new era for the X-Men has begun. During the Hellfire Gala we saw the debut of the first X-Men team in the Krakoa era. Before then the various creative teams working on all the X-books were careful to never use the term X-Men for mutants as part of a edict Charles Xavier and Magneto made when founding Krakoa. But now that is changing as Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Rogue, Wolverine, Polaris, Sunfire, and Synch have come together to form the new X-Men superhero team. With the events of the Hellfire Gala, where we saw Mars transformed into Planet Arakko, the new mutant planet and center of the Sol System, still fresh in everyone’s minds what threats will the X-Men team face? Let’s find out with X-Men #1.

Writer: Gerry Duggan

Artist: Pepe Larraz

Colorist: Marte Gracia

Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: Kelvin Heng, a prodigy who graduated from M.I.T. at age 13, remember how his parents took advantage of him by taking all the money he made from his first IPO and disappearing. Now as an adult Kelvin is on the verge of launching his second IPO named Feilong that promises to terraform Mars as a living planet. Just as the Feilong prepare to launch their shuttle to Mars breaking news hits of Krakoa transforming Mars into Planet Arakko.

Devastated that his plans for his Feilong company were ruined Kelvin sets his sights on making Krakoa pay for the crimes he believes they committed against him.

Over in New York City, on 86th Street Central Park, Krakoa has bought property and planted a large tree with various structures on the tree’s branches.

Ben Urich meets with Cyclops in the park area around the giant tree to ask about the structure. Cyclops says that he always felt like a creator and thought creating a Treehouse (which is the name of the tree that is now acting as the X-Men’s base of operations) would make him feel alive. Ben admits to liking the Treehouse.

As they go on with the interview Ben asks about Jumbo, whose original death he covered, and what the truth about the reason he died is. Cyclops doesn’t answer, instead he says there is to much bad news in the world and would rather have good news spread to the world. Cyclops then says it was a pleasure to speak with Ben and goes through a Krakoan gate.

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Cyclops gives Polaris a tour of their new headquarters, named Treehouse, in X-Men #1. Click for full page view.

Cyclops meets up with Marvel Girl inside the Treehouse. Marvel Girl wonders if Ben Ulrich will be a problem. Cyclops says he hopes not and that they can leave the concerns of all the zoning stuff for the Treehouse to X-Corp.

Cyclops and Marvel Girl check up on Synch and Forge’s progress in completing the maintenance for the Treehouse.

As they do Polaris finally shows up to Treehouse. Cyclops decides to show her around the Treehouse so she knows where all the different facilities of the new X-Men base is.

Marvel Girl suddenly sense people in New York City getting excited to see a large fireball in the sky. Marvel Girl contacts Rogue to check things out since she is the nearest one to where all the commotion is.

Somewhere in the city Rogue gets to where the fireball is getting close to hitting the ground. Rogue uses all of her strength to divert the giant fireball to the nearby river.

When the smoke clears from the fireball’s impact Rogue tells the rest of the X-Men that a giant creature has appeared. The creature spots Rogue and hits her across the city all the way to the Treehouse.

Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Polaris, Wolverine (Laura Kinney), Sunfire, and Synch arrive on the scene. Polaris attempts to use her powers on the creature but it turns out to be completely organic. Rogue saves Polaris at the last second just before the creature crushes her.

Te X-Men regroup with Cyclops telling the team that they need to focus on containing the creature. Polaris tells her teammates to stay close and she starts forming something from all the metal in the area. Protected inside the structure Polaris created Marvel Girl uses her powers to shield the people in the area do not fall prey to the creature’s mind control.

Synch says he has an idea he came up with Forge but will need a lot of metal to make his plan work. Polaris says that is not a problem and proceeds to gather up all the metal she can with her powers. Synch tells Polaris to make sure to get some solar panels and batteries so they can use Sunfire to charge up their creation.

Polaris and Synch complete their creation and Sunfire uses his powers to power it up. With the X-Men each manning a station they reappear in a giant mech to take on the creature.

While they lose an arm from their mech the X-Men get close enough for Cyclops to fire a massive blast through head of the mech. They get closer to the creature so that Sunfire can unleash a large fire attack. The creature counters by blasting the X-Men’s mech back with an electric-based attack.

Wolverine is able to fight through the shock of the attack and jumps out of the X-Men mech onto the creature. Wolverine cuts her way through the creature and starts tearing it apart from the inside.

Captain America and Thing contact Marvel Girl to let her know the Avengers and Fantastic Four are about to arrive to help. Marvel Girl tells the Avengers and Fantastic Four not to worry as they defeated the creature already.

The X-Men exit their mech to people cheering them for saving the day. As they take it in Cyclops says they can take the mech that was created to the Krakoan archipelago in the Atlantic to repurpose it as a new lighthouse.

Later, back at the Treehouse Synch analyzes the creature they fought and finds that it had two purposes on Earth: 1) to psionically destroy mammalian brains and; 2) to replicate itself using whatever was on Earth.

Over on Gameworld, a space station somewhere in the universe, where it is found to be the originator of the creature that attacked Earth. It is shown the aliens on Gameworld were beating on the Mind Reaver (the name of the creature that attacked Earth) would destroy Earth.

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The X-Men’s newest villain targets Krakoa’s ressurection protocols as shown in X-Men #1. Click for full page view.

Spimvar (the host of Gameworld) introduces to Cordyceps Jones. Cordyceps Jones appears out of a corpse to announce that everyone on Gameworld will have a chance to beat Earthlings so they can claim Earth.

Underground New Jersey, the Oblivion Institute a person named Dr. Stasis is conducting experiments on people to evolve them. Dr. Statis latest test subject dies from the experimentation. Dr. Stasis continues his work as he is set on stopping Krakoa and figuring out how mutants are resurrecting their dead. End of issue.

The Good: X-Men #1 succeeded in most areas that it needed to establish the new team back as part of the superhero community. There was one major area that the success of this issue will vary depending on the reader. But largely, Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz can call X-Men #1 a success because of how they presented the team.

Opening up X-Men #1 with fallout from the Hellfire Gala was a the right tone setter to kick things off with. This immediately places the creation of Planet Arakko and all the events that took place during the Hellfire Gala to have great importance to the Marvel Universe. It was not simply an event where the X-Men debut. The things that Emma Frost led Krakoa in revealing to the Marvel Universe have massive impact to everything we know. That is something that continues to be felt in both the opening and final pages of X-Men #1.

Basing the three major threats established in X-Men #1 all around what we saw take place in House Of X/Powers of X and Hellfire Gala helped separate each antagonist from most X-Men villains. Right now the biggest threat to the X-Men franchise has been established as Orchis, which is another mutant hate group. And with Magneto, Mystique, Mr. Sinister, the Brotherhood of Mutants, and other mutant based villains from the past now all collaborating and living together on Krakoa the Orchis organization is the only major threat.

Which is what made Kelvin Heng, Cordyceps Jones, and Dr. Stasis standout as unique. None of these three antagonist are being positioned as villains because they hate mutants. Instead they are turning into villains who the X-Men are going to fight because the developments made by Krakoa as a nation. This creates a different way to explore how the founding of Krakoa impacts the Marvel Universe as the progress they’ve made in doing things like terraforming Mars and renaming it Planet Arakko have larger ramifications to the Marvel Universe.

Kelvin Heng being the first antagonist set up worked well into the narrative around Planet Arakko’s foundation. With Kelvin we see how this Elon Musk like person was on the verge of changing everything as he had everything in place to terraform Mars. Unfortunately for him Krakoa was ahead of him as they already created Planet Arakko as soon as he had his company, Feilong, ready to launch their plans for Mars. Duggan and Larraz did a great job in making you feel how Kelvin went from heartbroken to completely taken over by his rage that Krakoa took away what would’ve been his greatest accomplishment from him. It catapults Kelvin and what he will transform Feilong into becoming to take on the X-Men something you as the reader want to find out about.

Similarly, we see how Cordyceps Jones and Dr. Stasis are both motivated in different ways. With Cordyceps Jones we see them be established as a game master similar to Grandmaster and Mojo. The character does not necessarily care about mutants. Instead Cordyceps Jones and those participating in the gambling game are only interested in wiping out Earth so they can claim its habitable planet. This once again, points to how Planet Arakko being announced to the universe is having larger ramifications that simply being a new home for mutants. It has officially caught the attention of every alien race in the Marvel Universe and Cordyceps Jones is leading that added attention both Earth and Planet Arakko have garnered.

On the Dr. Stasis side of things while it does appear his motives against Krakoa are similar to Orchis it isn’t necessarily based around hating mutants. Instead, Dr. Stasis motivation as an antagonist is based around the scientific advancements Krakoa has made and the resurrection protocols they established. Dr. Stasis looking to possibly create his own resurrection protocol for humanity makes things interesting as to how Charles Xavier and The Five will be part of this series.

As for the X-Men themselves, this first issue does a great job showcasing them as superheroes from the beginning. Having the first fight this new X-Men team get involved in to save the day starting and ending in the first issue was the right call. This gave the story in X-Men #1 be a more satisfying read as its main conflict is resolved in the one issue. That allows the other sub-plots with the villains that are set-up in this issue to stand out more, building anticipation for what comes next.

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The X-Men are cheered as heroes after saving the day in X-Men #1. Click for full page view.

Going with the X-Men being able to defeat the Mind Reaver in their first fight also worked to establish this as a strong team. Everyone on the team came across as powerhouse in some way. Whether it was Cyclops and Sunfire massive attacks to Marvel Girl protecting people from Mind Reaver’s psychic attacks to Polaris creating the giant mech, every X-Men had a chance to shine. Keeping the fight in the river away from buildings also showed that the X-Men are thinking as superheroes as they showed concerned for innocents with every action they took against Mind Reavers. This helps to re-establish the X-Men to be thought of similar to the Avengers and Fantastic Four again within Marvel’s Earth.

Setting up the X-Men’s headquarters back being in New York City was a nice touch. The Treehouse base continues how we see nature play a large role in how Krakoa constructs things. Cyclops interview with Ben Urich helps to further establish how the X-Men do want Treehouse a symbol of hope. This add how the X-Men want people to view them as superheroes like the Avengers and Fantastic Four. Which also creates more of a divide between the vision Scott Summers and Jean Grey have for the X-Men to what the Quiet Council’s actions with Krakoa are.

Pepe Larraz yet again shows why he is one of the best artists working on the X-Men comic books with his work on this issue. Cyclops tour of the Treehouse that he gave to Polaris was a great example of that. The double page spread got over how detailed the X-Men are with thinking of everything they would need for a new headquarters. The action scenes with the fight between the X-Men and Mind Reaver all came across as a clash of titans. Larraz also does a great job making each alien race on Gameworld come across as unique, adding to how diverse Marvel’s cosmic corner is when explored.

The Bad: From an overall perspective the one thing that X-Men #1 did not completely nail is how new reader friendly it is. There are a lot of concepts that Duggan just throws at the reader that could easily overwhelm those that have not read the post-House of X/Powers of X era for the X-Men. As X-Men #1 is a comic book that will have a lot of mainstream appeal it would’ve benefitted this first issue if we didn’t get so much continuity heavy exposition.

Cyclops comment about Polaris hopefully not revealing herself to be Wanda Maximoff’s killer came across as in poor taste. Duggan wrote it in a very dismissive manner that makes Cyclops come across as a complete asshole. It almost sounded more like something the current Charles Xavier would say and not Cyclops. By making such a comment Duggan lessens how the reader is supposed to take the death of Wanda Maximoff seriously.

Overall: X-Men #1 is a strong debut issue for the returning superhero team. Every member of the X-Men are given time to shine as the team saves New York City from the latest cosmic threat. In the process Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz set-up three major threats for the X-Men to face in the future. By the end I am even more hyped for what is next for the team than I was when starting to read X-Men #1.

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