Jonathan Hickman has been developing a lot of different storylines throughout his run on X-Men. One of the biggest ones that fans have been waiting for Hickman to revisit is what Wolverine (Laura Kinney), Darwin, and Synch are doing in the Vault. We last saw this trio in X-Men #5 where they entered the Vault for a specific mission. Obviously with Krakoa being pulled into the events of Empyre and X Of Swords we have not seen what is going on inside the Vault with Wolverine, Darwin, and Synch. But now with those events behind us Hickman is going to give us a look at what is exactly going on with this story in the Vault with X-Men #18. With how highly anticipated this story has been let’s get right into X-Men #18.
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Colorist: Sunny Gho
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: Inside the Vault, Wolverine (Laura Kinney), Darwin, and Synch set out to discover what the Children of the Vault are up to with their population control and what kind of threat they pose to Krakoa. As they make their way through the Vault, Synch reflects on his role as Wolverine and Darwin’s literal back-up as his powers allow him to play both his teammates roles if needed.
Inside a place called the Dome, Master Mold welcomes Serafina to the Vault by analyzing the her information. Through that Master Mold comes to the conclusion the Children of the Vault aren’t ready and need to be upgraded. Master Mold then detects Wolverine, Darwin, and Synch’s presence so it sends the Children of the Vault (Serafina, Sangre, Perro, Aguja, and Fuego) after them.
Fuego immediately sets the elevator Wolverine, Darwin, and Synch were using on fire. The X-Men trio were able to get out of the elevator before the attack. Wolverine then jumps out of the shadow and immediately kills Serafina.
As the teams fight Fuego hits Synch with a fire blast. Wolverine backs Synch up by fighting Fuego near his location so he can use Wolverine’s healing factor to heal himself. After he does that Synch takes on Fuego’s fire powers. Synch uses them to burn Sangre and Perro to death.
Aguja is the last of the Children of the Vault left standing. Seeing no other way out Aguja releases all of her power to create a massive dome-like blast in an effort to take Wolverine, Darwin, and Synch out with her. End of issue.
The Good: Jonathan Hickman does not waste time with the core story of X-Men #18. We are put right into what is going on inside the Vault and just go with it. Before you know it we get to the end of this issue and are left wondering where Hickman is going with all of this.
Framing the story around Synch’s inner monologue was a good move. Synch hasn’t gotten a big spotlight in the X-Men comics, especially recently. His status as one of the earliest known mutants to be resurrected by the Five places him in a unique spot. As we learn from Dr. Cecilia Reyes report on how Synch’s powers changed after going through his resurrection it is clear that even the character is getting used to where he is at.
Throughout his inner monologue we do get a good sense of where Synch’s comfort level is at. While he knows his role as Wolverine and Darwin’s literal back-up he is the new guy in these type of missions. But even then he has faith in his teammates to be comfortable enough to venture into the Vault without fearing for what he has volunteered for. This faith is justified with how effectively Synch is able to use his powers to work of Wolverine and Darwin to quickly defeat the Children of the Vault.
Laura Kinney as Wolverine was another standout as she fully accepts being the leader of the team that entered the Vault. There is no questioning her position as Wolverine as Darwin and Synch have trust in her that they follow her lead. Through the fight with the Children of the Vault we also get to see how she is always aware of her surroundings and what is going on. From killing Serafina right away after getting the jump on her from the shadows to backing up Synch while simultaneously making sure to be close enough so he can gain use of her healing factor, Laura’s leadership was on full display. This further exemplifies why she has embraced being Wolverine again as she has made the identity her own.
The further progress with Master Mold and the Children of the Vault was overall done well to provide greater interest in what we will see from the Vault in the future. As part one of the story in the Vault, Hickman clearly doesn’t want to give everything away. Which is a good way to differentiate the Vault story from he more one-shot style storytelling Hickman has employed with his run on this X-Men series. Giving us only small bits of details of what Master Mold is doing is enough to push how we really don’t know the full threat level of the Vault.
Mahmud Asrar artwork got over how the Vault is a completely foreign place from what we’ve seen in this X-Men series thus far. The scale of the Vault feels huge but also empty, which fits with how Master Mold has control over the entire location. The action in the second half work very well to show off the skills of Wolverine, Darwin, and Synch, showcasing some solid teamwork between the trio. The design for the Children of the Vault also worked to tell the story of how the characters in this world have been altered by Master Mold.
The Bad: As much as I enjoyed X-Men #18 the way the Children of the Vault were quickly taken out was an odd choice. We never got to see them show why they are a threat. They were simply taken out in relative quick fashion. Which makes them come across as nothing more than throwaway characters. That all just seems like a waste of potential for what the Children of the Vault could’ve been, especially with the X-Men franchise lacking major villains at the moment.
Overall: Jonathan Hickman and Mahmud Asrar deliver a story that is a relatively quick read with the story told in X-Men #18. The strong characterization of Wolverine, Darwin, and Synch really stood out as Hickman and Asrar placed much needed spotlights on these great characters. More than anything this issue came across as a tease for a greater story that will be told with everything going on in the Vault. Hopefully we don’t have to wait long for the story in the Vault to unfold, especially with the Hellfire Gala fast approaching.
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