Marvel Comics X-Men #1 Review

X-Men #1 Review

Marvel Comics X-Men #1 Review

House of X and Powers of X were easily the best comics that Marvel has published in a very long time. Jonathan Hickman is operating at a completely different level than other writers in the comic book industry. House of X and Powers of X laid the strong foundation for Hickman’s new direction for the X-Men franchise. Hickman now carries forward his vision for the X-Men franchise in X-Men #1. I am more than confident that we will get another meticulously crafted read. Let’s go ahead and hit this review!

Words: Jonathan Hickman

Pencils: Leinil Francis Yu

Inks: Gerry Alanguilan

Colors: Sunny Cho

Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10

Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin “Then” with Professor X telling Cyclops to open his eyes. Scott is afraid to do so without destroying or hurting someone. Professor X says that closing your eyes out of fear is something that man does not mutants.

Scott opens his eyes and realizes that he can see and his optic blasts aren’t firing off. Scott is excited that the ruby quartz glasses that Professor X gave him work. Professor X says that this is just the beginning of what Professor X will show Scott.

We hop over to “Now.” We see Cyclops and Storm attacking the last Orchis stronghold on Earth. Cyclops and Storm blast their way through the Orchis troops. They then arrive at the heart of the Orchis Hub where a ton of soldiers are guarding a massive vault door.

Suddenly, the roof rips open and we see Magneto and Polaris hovering above. Magneto asks Polaris if it is too much to ask for there to be no rubble and rabble beneath his feet then they touch the ground. Polaris says, “Allow me.” Polaris then rips up the metal over the floor and pins all of the soldiers to the side of the room.

Cyclops tries blasting through the vault door but has no success since it is made out of Vibranium. Magneto tells Scott to step aside.

We cut to inside the vault and see Doctor Mars asking how much redundancy they have between this Hub and the Forge. A scientist tells him they have 80% redundancy. The scientist asks if they should destroy the data core to prevent the mutants from getting their information. Mars says that they cannot lose the information forever. Mars says that it is better to make the ultimate sacrifice. Mars says that they are too civilized to properly deal with the mutants. Mars then injects himself with a serum. The other scientists then inject themselves with the serum.

Marvel Comics X-Men #1 Review
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We cut to Magneto having ripped a hole in the vault door. Magneto, Cyclops, Storm, and Polaris enter the lab and are attacked by the scientists who have been transformed into great apes. Magento says he will take care of the apes and tells the others to go rescue the captured mutants.

Cyclops, Storm, and Polaris arrive at the lab where all the mutants are being held in stasis tubes. The X-Men free everyone from the tubes. One of the people is actually not a mutant. It is a human. She says that she is not here and that they cannot see her. Storm replies that they can see her. Polaris scans the human and says that the human appears to be posthuman.

The human says that she emerged before she was fully cooked. That she is a child born out of time. She says that there are wild gods loose in the world. Magneto appears on the scene and says that the only gods are the mutants before her.

The human then says that she has to go and she teleports away from the scene. Magneto says that she could not have gotten far and can follow her. Cyclops replies that the human was not their mission. That if the Council of 12 wants them to go after her later then they can decide so. But, for now, their mission is to get all of these mutants rescued from the stasis tubes back home to Krakoa.

We shift back to Krakoa. Dr. Reyes is checking over all of the mutant children that Cyclops’ team rescued from the Orchis Hub.

We then see a bunch of mutant children screaming about how Magneto is back. The children mob Magneto and honor him as a great conquering hero.

One mutant child says that he wants to fight by Magneto’s side. Magneto replies that he has fought his entire life so that the children would not have to fight. Magneto says that the children can live here in paradise in Krakoa and not worry about fighting.

The child asks what if the humans come to Krakoa to attack them. The child says that he is not afraid and will not run. Magneto says that the child will not have to. Magneto says let mankind run from him. (Hickman’s Magneto is the best!) Polaris comments to Scott how Magneto is a young man again. Polaris then says that the attention and worship that Magneto is getting is a little embarrassing. Scott replies that Magneto has waited a long time for this. That they all have.

Polaris and Scott walk to the center of Krakoa. Scott talks about having a son and having to watch his son suffer for being a mutant. But, now they are home. Scott says that he believed in a thing and that now it is real. Polaris asks if Scott really believes that. Scott replies, “Every single word of it.”

We cut Orchis Forge where Director Devo, the leader of the Orchis, has finally arrived. (Devo?! Whip it! Whip it, real good!) He is an old blind man who has special hi-tech goggles on his face.

Karima and Director Devo are standing next to several rows of coffins for all the soldiers who died during the X-Men’s attack on the Orchis Forge. Director Devo says he wished he could have been here during the attack. Karima says that it is good that Director Devo was not here or else they would have lost him, too. Karima says that Orchis needs Director Devo as their leader to rally them. That if they lost Director Devo then it would have made this entire experiment pointless.

We hop back to The Summer House. Scott is talking to his father, Corsair. Scott says that when they got to Krakoa and he decided to pick a place to live that he wanted a place with a view. We see Scott and Corsair staring out at Earth.

Scott says that Krakoan flowers can grow anywhere, so he chose the Blue Area of the moon to build the Summer House. The Summer House is linked to Krakoa so they can instantly travel between the Summer House and Krakoa.

We slide over to Vulcan grilling steaks. Wolverine says that he wants his steak rare. Vulcan says that when meat is put on the fire that one cannot expect a fire to not be a fire. Wolverine says he is going to fight Gabe. Gabe replies that he will respect Wolverine’s wishes and cook Logan’s steak….medium-rare. Wolverine drops his beer and calls Gabe a son of a bitch.

We see teen Cable and Raza comparing their guns. Raza’s gun has cool tech like antimatter rounds. Cable asks Jean Grey if he can trade his gun for Raza’s gun.

We then see Ch’od telling Jean that he has made the tea for dinner. We see the Summer family all having a huge dinner. The family includes Wolverine, the Starjammers, Corsair, Vulcan, Havok, Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Rachel Summers.

Scott and Alex then present their father, Corsair, with a Krakoan flower. The sons tell Corsair that he can plant this Krakoan flower in his space ship’s arboretum. Therefore, no matter where in the universe Corsair might be he can instantly walk into Krakoa. The three sons say it is great to have their father with them.

We then get a two-page informational insert of the blueprints of the Summer House. (I fucking love this!!! We need more blueprints of homes and headquarters in comic books!) We see that Cyclops, Wolverine, Jean Grey, Vulcan, Havok, Cable, and Rachel all have their own bedrooms in the Summer House. Two bedrooms are listed as empty. We see that bedrooms for Alex, Gabe, Nathan, and Rachel are not connected to any of the other bedrooms by interior doors. On the other hand, Jean, Wolverine and Cyclops’ bedrooms are all connected by interior doors. (That is some creepy shit, right there.)

Marvel Comics X-Men #1 Review
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We cut to “later.” We see Scott and Corsair alone and cleaning dishes after dinner. Corsair says that what Scott is doing now with the X-Men and Krakoa is more dangerous than anything he has ever done before. Corsair says that he is worried about Scott, Alex, and Gabe.

Scott says that he is a fighter and will never stop fighting for what he believes in. Scott says there is no end to the number of things in the universe that want to kill them. But, for the first time in his life, he has a home and is surrounded by the people he loves. So, Scott is going to stop focusing on things that want him dead and focus on things that make him want to live. Corsair puts his arm around Scott and calls him a good boy. (Awwww! I’m getting a little misty-eyed.)

We zip back to the Orchis Forge. Director Devo asks Dr. Gregor why she was not at her husband’s funeral. Gregor says that Erasmus lives inside of her. Devo says that Erasmus was a tower of a man. That Erasmus was their greatest military mind.

Marvel Comics X-Men #1 Review
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Gregor asks if Devo would like to know a secret. Gregor holds a pink prism and says that she knows how to bring her husband, Erasmus, back. End of issue.

The Good: X-Men #1 was absolutely brilliant. Jonathan Hickman continues to demonstrate why he is the best comic book writer at this point in the industry. X-Men #1 is another finely crafted story that is the obvious product of painstaking attention to detail.

Hickman continues the incredible world-building from House of X and Powers of X and carries it into X-Men #1. Hickman continues to flesh out the smaller details of this new world for the X-Men franchise. This new world of the X-Men just keeps getting more and more fascinating. Hickman is able to pull the reader deeper and deeper into this world. It is all so delightfully immersive.

Hickman also delivers plenty of his usual excellent character work. Cyclops is the clear star of X-Men #1 and gets the lion’s share of the character work. But, Hickman also delivers some quality character work with Magneto, Polaris, Corsair, Devo, and Gregor. All of the characters are well developed. There are no shallow characters or cardboard cut-outs in Hickman’s story.

Hickman also crafts plenty of exemplary dialogue. All of the characters benefit from their own unique external voice. Hickman is able to make the X-Men feel like real people. Hickman is also able to generate some good chemistry between the various characters that helps the story feel natural.

I continue to love this slightly creepy vibe to the X-Men in general. Hickman has the X-Men using certain “positive” buzz words associated with social struggle. However, lurking underneath everything is a creepy undercurrent that feels unsettling to the reader. The X-Men continue to have a cult-like vibe to them. The various X-Men sound like cult members at various points in the story. There is also this undercurrent of hatred and malice that the X-Men harbor for mankind. This is seen in the dismissive and prejudiced generalizations that the X-Men make about humans. It is also seen in the aggressive and war-like talk from Magneto. Then there is the view that the mutants believe themselves to be genetically superior to humans. This always invokes a Nazi Germany chord in the story.

All of this keeps the reader unsure exactly if they should be rooting for the X-Men or not. To make things even more complex, Hickman never makes Orchis a clear over-the-top villainous organization. In fact, Hickman continues to make Gregor a very sympathetic character. Hickman also makes Director Devo come across as a level-headed and rational person.

All of this makes Hickman’s story one of many shades of gray. And this is also far more engaging and fascinating than a story that is presented in absolutes or in clear black and white. Hickman is not interested in preaching to the reader. Hickman is only interested in engaging the reader’s imagination and pulling them deeper into the story. Hickman’s goal is to great the reader thinking about and questioning everything that is going on around them.

The plotting and pacing on X-Men #1 is fantastic. This should come of no surprise given what Hickman has been delivering on House of X and Powers of X. Hickman has excellent long-range vision and has a clear direction in mind for the X-Men franchise. Hickman continues to juggle multiple complex plot-lines and move them forward at a steady pace. X-Men #1 is a focused read that never waivers or gets lost.

X-Men #1 begins with a two-page scene that serves as a nice reminder of where Scott Summers started. This scene’s use of the theme of Scott’s vision and all the things that Professor X plans to show him plays well with the later scene between Scott and Corsair where Scott tells his father about the new way that he looks at the world around him.

The next scene is the twelve-page scene at the Orchis Hub. This scene’s main purpose is to supply X-Men #1 with its only action. I loved the interplay between Scott, Storm, Magneto, and Polaris. Hickman demonstrates that he has an excellent feel for these characters. This scene shows the natural way that these characters interact with each other.

I love Hickman’s Magneto. Hickman sees Magneto as the Archangel Michael. This is an excellent way to view Magneto’s character. The moment where Magneto asks his daughter if it is too much for him to not have his feet touch the rubble and rabble once he lands on the ground was brilliant. Polaris’ response as the dutiful daughter willingly obeying her father’s request was just spot on. This perfectly emphasized Magento’s superiority complex that has only grown under the events of House of X and Powers of X.

I loved that Hickman had the Orchis scientists inject them with a serum that turned them into great apes in order to battle the X-Men. The concept that humans are too civilized to properly battle mutants and needed to revert back to their older evolutionary form was fantastic. This is the type of writing that I expect from Hickman. This also continues to play with the constant theme of evolution that runs through Hickman’s version of the X-Men.

Marvel Comics X-Men #1 Review
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Hickman delivered a surprise in this scene with the reveal of the first posthuman. We do not know much about this girl, but we do know from the X3: X-Men Year One Thousand plotline in House of X and Powers of X that the posthuman will end up being the divergent species that ends both the humans and mutants. This is the beginning of Hickman introducing the concept of the posthuman into the present-day plotline. I am fascinated to see where Hickman takes this plotline.

We then get the five-page of our heroes returning to Krakoa with the rescued mutants. This is probably the weakest scene in X-Men #1. Still, I did enjoy how Hickman portrays Magento as the conquering hero who is adored by all the mutants on Krakoa. Having Polaris comment on how it is a bit embarrassing to see everyone swoon over her father was a nice touch. This was a good personal and humorous moment in a story that is dominated by large concepts and a more serious mood. It is also great to see how Magneto is finally realizing everything that he has ever wanted.

I also enjoyed the private discussion between Cyclops and Polaris. Again, Hickman presents Cyclops as a cult member with a zealot’s belief in his cause. The language that Cyclops uses is certainly one that you would expect to hear from a zealot. I like that Hickman implies that Polaris has some doubt in her heart about what is going on with Krakoa and the future plans for mutants. I am glad that Hickman is not having every single X-Men just blindly embrace Professor X’s plans for Krakoa and for going forward.

Next is the four-page scene on the Orchis Forge. Karima is still a miss with me at this point. Hickman has not done anything to really get me interested in her character. However, I did find Director Devo to be a great character. I love that Hickman gave Devo a calm and rational personality. That makes him so much more compelling as a character. A cartoonish villain in this role would have seriously hurt Hickman’s story.

We then get the seven-page scene in the Summer House. This was easily my favorite scene and the high point of X-Men #1. Hickman delivers his strongest character work in this scene. There is so much to unpack from this scene.

Marvel Comics X-Men #1 Review
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First, I love the Summer House’s location. The Blue Area of the moon is such a perfect location. I like that Cyclops built his family’s house off of Krakoa. This location is the perfect fit for Cyclops who has always been tied to the stars. Cyclop’s father, Corsair, is a galaxy faring adventurer. Cyclops fell in love with the Phoenix which is a galaxy faring being. Cyclop’s brother, Vulcan, is also a cosmic character. Placing the Summer House on the moon re-inforces this aspect of Scott’s character. Also, this location plays well with Scott being a bit of an introvert.

Second, this scene demonstrates that Hickman understands that the Summers family is the spine of the X-Men franchise. This is the family that serves as the foundation for so much of the X-Men’s history and stories. The only two extended members of the Summers family that are missing would be Alex’s wife in Polaris and Alex’s father-in-law in Magneto. With the addition of those two characters then the Summer House would be complete.

Third, I love that Hickman chose to focus on a smaller family moment like getting together for dinner. It has always been the more intimate moments like this in the X-Men’s stories that I have always found the most enjoyable. It is like those old issues from the 1980s that would focus on the X-Men picnicking and playing baseball outside of the Xavier Institute for Gifted Children.

The interchange between Vulcan and Wolverine at the grill and the moment between Raza and Cable are some wonderful comedic relief. It is the little moments like these which really help to bring a story to life.

This scene ends with the two-page quiet moment between father and son when Corsair talks with Scott. This scene continues the earlier theme of vision and how Scott is changing how he sees the world around him. I loved this moment. It was a touching father and son moment that got me right in the feels. As a father of two boys, I totally get how Corsair feels at the end of this scene. It was so well played.

We then end X-Men #1 with the three-page scene on the Orchis Forge. This was a fantastic hook ending! Hickman unveils a surprise plot twist on the reader that gets them excited to come back for more.

Hickman continues to make Gregor such a sympathetic character. Her love for her husband, Erasmus, is so visceral. This makes Gregor such a compelling and interesting character. There are so many different facets to her personality. Hickman manages to make Gregor a character that the reader cannot help but like to some degree or another.

The cool plot twist at the very end was fantastic. Gregor reveals a pink gem akin to Nimrod’s gem and announces that she can bring Erasmus back. Holy shit. Sign me up for more. I cannot wait to see where Hickman goes from here.

Marvel Comics X-Men #1 Review
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Hickman brings his trend from House of X and Powers of X of delivering informational inserts over into X-Men #1. I love that Hickman is still delivering these information inserts. They are such a brilliant literary tool to deliver large amounts of dense information without bogging down the actual story.

In X-Men #1, after the seven-page scene at the Summer House, we get a two-page Informational insert showing the reader the blueprints for the Summer House. We also get a description of the location of the house. As a kid, I always loved it when artists would include a blueprint or schematic of a secret lair, a headquarters, or a facility at the end of a comic book. Things like the Legion’s headquarters, the Avenger’s mansion, the JLA’s satellite, or a S.H.I.E.L.D. base. It was always so damn cool. Well, for some reason, comics really abandoned this approach after the 1990s. It is great to see Hickman bringing this approach back. I hope even more DC and Marvel comic books do this type of stuff.

At any rate, what is interesting to note is that the floor plan for the main level of the Summer House. We see all of the bedrooms for the members of the Summers’ family. We then see that Wolverine has a bedroom in the Summer House. I did not see that coming. While reading the dinner scene, I thought that Wolverine was just visiting. However, the schematic shows that Wolverine is actually living at the Summer House. But, wait…it gets even creepier!

Marvel Comics X-Men #1 Review
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The floorplan for the main living level shows that none of the bedrooms are connected by interior doors…except for Jean, Logan, and Scott’s bedrooms. Those three bedrooms are all connected by interior doors with Jean’s bedroom being in the middle. So gross! So creepy! So weird! So fantastic! I have a feeling that this is going to lead to some painfully uncomfortable scenes to read in the future!

I am not a big fan of Leinel Yu’s style of art. I never have been. My biggest issue with Yu’s artwork is that it is more fitting for a horror comic book or a supernatural comic book than a mainstream superhero comic book. Yu’s art often lacks background details. Yu also draws characters’ with horror show faces. They usually look terrifying.

However, in X-Men #1, Yu toned down his horror show style faces for all of the female characters. The female character’s got faces that lacked all the insane amount of scratchy and sketchy creep lines all over their faces. The female characters had nice normal smooth and clean looking faces that match a mainstream superhero comic book. What a wonderful surprise! This was much appreciated.

The Bad: While Yu toned down his style when drawing the female character’s faces, he most definitely did not do so when drawing the male characters’ faces. The male characters all have faces full of weird sketchy lines all over them that give them a ghoulish and frightening look.

Overall: X-Men #1 is a beautifully crafted issue. Jonathan Hickman is kicking off a new Golden Age for the X-Men franchise. Hickman has created an immersive and compelling new world for the X-Men. I have not been this excited for an X-Men comic book since the 1990s. I cannot put into words how wonderful it is to be genuinely excited about the X-Men franchise once again.

I will say this, if you have not read House of X and Powers of X then you definitely need to go out and get it in collected format. X-Men #1 is not a new reader-friendly issue. If you have not been reading House of X and Powers of X then you will be lost during much of X-Men #1.

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