I haven’t read an X-Men comic since the Marvel Universe was relaunched after the events of Jonathan Hickman’s Secret Wars. The direction Marvel decided to take the X-Men completely lost my interest in a franchise that I love. The direction just never spoke to me, which was punctuated by how I had zero interest in reading the Inhumans vs X-Men. Surprisingly in the aftermath of IvX Marvel has found a way to grab my attention with how they are splitting up the X-Men into Blue and Gold squads. Something about this direction at least makes me want to give Marvel the chance to win me back to read at least one X-Men comic on an ongoing basis. Will Marvel be successful? Let’s find out with X-Men: Prime #1.
Writers: Marc Guggenheim, Greg Pak and Cullen Bunn
Artists: Ken Lashley, Ibraim Roberson, Leonard Kirk and Guillermo Ortego
Colorists: Morry Hollowell, Frank D’Armata and Michael Garland
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: At a studio in Chicago, Kitty Pryde is practicing her dancing skills to get herself back to having a normal life after returning to Earth following her adventures with the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Kitty’s practice does not last long as Storm shows up outside the studio, looking for a meeting.
At a local coffee shop, Kitty apologizes for not telling anyone that she returned to Earth. Storm jokes that is common for an X-Men but Kitty reminds Storm she is not an X-Men anymore. Storm does not waste anymore time in saying Kitty’s X-Men membership is why she wanted to meet her. Storm admits her failure in leading the X-Men being on display during the recent war to the Inhumans where they choose violence over peace as fear over mutant extinction blinded the X-Men.
Kitty tells Storm that she is not to blame for what happened. Kitty then asks what all this has to do with her returning to the X-Men. Storm says she wants Kitty to return to the X-Men since she is leaving the team.
At the Straits of Johor a ship filled with migrant workers is heading into Madripoor. Someone from the crew enters the room with all the migrant workers and grabs a woman and fighting others who are trying to stop him. Having seen enough, Lady Deathstrike’s springs into action and kills the guy who was manhandling the woman.
Deciding not to stick around Lady Deathstrike dives into the water and swims to the shore of Madripoor. As soon as she gets on shore some mysterious woman shows up looking to recruit Lady Deathstrike to a team of mutants. Lady Deathstrike turns down the offer and quickly stabs the woman.
Lady Deathstrike thinks to herself that she just wants to leave behind all the craziness of being a mutant. Before she can leave the area a missile hits Lady Deathstrike, knocking her down in the process. Lady Deathstrike passes out as the woman she stabbed gets back up and tells her organization in Washington DC she has Lady Deathstrike now.
In DC the mysterious woman’s boss says that no one is going to miss anyone they captured. We then see the person looking at images of Old Man Logan, Sabretooth, Warpath, Domino and Lady Deathstrike.
Over on X-Haven Kitty is surprised with the location of the X-Mansion. Storm explains that mutants needed a place to feel safe and that currently the majority of the active X-Men and students are at the X-Mansion. Storm explains that the X-Men need to move forward and she has only been holding them back. Kitty asks Storm for time to walk around to make a decision if she is going to stay with the X-Men.
Kitty walks around the mansion and finds her old room which is filled with art equipment. Peter Rasputin (Colossus) walks up to Kitty and reveals he is living in her room. Peter expresses his hope that Kitty will stick around and leaves her to make a decision.
Kitty continues to tour the mansion and finds Shogo crying in his room. Kitty picks up Shogo and tries to calm him down. Jubilee walks in with Shogo’s bottle. Kitty watches Jubilee feeding Shogo and wonders how time passed so fast that Jubilee is a mom now.
Kitty continues to walk around and sees some students in the back playing basketball together. Kitty watches the kids play and wonders if the Danger Room is still functioning.
In the Danger Room, the original X-Men who were brought to the present are training together. An explosion sends Jean Grey flying but is caught by Angel. Iceman jokes that Angel stole Cyclops moment to save Jean. Jean does not appreciate Angel’s chivalry since he wouldn’t of done the same when Cyclops is the leader. She then reminds her team that times have changed. Angel says he didn’t save her because she’s a woman but because she is “Jean,” which catches Jean and Cyclops, individually, off guard.
Beast speaks up and says he is surprised with what Jean’s first decision as a leader is. Jean says she understands as she is asking the team to trust her since this isn’t their “world.” Beast then reminds everyone how an older version of himself brought them to the present that may not even be from the same timeline since they haven’t been able to return to their time after all there changes.
Kitty enters the Danger Room control room and sees that it has been turned on and notices that the simulation’s sequences are out of sync.
Inside the Danger Room’s simulation Jean says that they are in the present for a reason and that they won’t learn why if they stay at the X-Mansion. Cyclops tells Jean that even though it may be a bad idea that they will follow her decision. Iceman thinks that the other X-Men won’t like their decision but Jean says they won’t get the chance to stop them.
Kitty walks into the Danger Room simulation and finds that the younger Beast pre-recorded the training footage and set it to play on a loop until someone found them. Jean, in the recording, tells Kitty that while they believe in what the X-Men are doing at the school it is not their school. Jean ends the recording by saying her team has something they have to do and bids Kitty farewell.
Sometime later on another part of Limbo, Kitty finds Magik standing around. Magik happily hugs Kitty and welcomes her back. After some brief banter Magik asks Kitty if she is back for good. Kitty says that she may be. She then brings up how things feel weird at the X-Mansion, bringing up how even the original X-Men are without a direction and have left. Magik mentions Storm is doing the same thing. Kitty then tells Magik that is why she wants her help with something.
A little later Kitty gathers all the remaining X-Men and students outside the X-Mansion. Kitty is amazed to see how many have gathered. She comments on how since returning to the mansion she keeps getting the same question about what is next, which she believes is a good thing. She goes on to say that it is now their job to grow their future into a legacy that builds on what Professor Xavier dreamed and protect those around them.
She goes on to explain how they are also going to show the world that they aren’t mutants or homo-superiors but heroes who will protect them. She then says that they can’t do that from Limbo or Westchester like they have been.
Colossus asks Kitty what she has in mind. Just then their setting changes.
Storm remarks on how impressive the location is. Storm then says that Kitty is ready to lead the X-Men now. Kitty agrees and says that her next act as leader of the X-Men is to order Storm to say. Before Storm can object Kitty says that Storm is one of the longest running X-Men with a lot of leadership and field experience. Kitty goes on to say even if that experience led to some bad decisions they were all done to protect the X-Men which is why they need her to help with the work ahead of them.
They both walk back into the mansion as we see that the X-Mansion is now located in the middle of Central Park in New York City. End of issue.
The Good: The team of Marc Guggenheim, Greg Pak and Cullen Bunn delivered exactly the type of issue that the X-Men franchise needed. There is an air around X-Men: Prime #1 self-reflection that things weren’t right with where the entire franchise has been. That is at least what the writers in charge of the current direction of the X-Men seem to be aware of.
Using Kitty Pryde as the driving force around the new direction the X-Men franchise are going on was a smart decision. Through all the events that happened to the X-Men since even before Secret Wars the one character that has not been connected to those stories is Kitty. She is a the one character that readers, especially those disenchanted by recent X-Men stories, can identify as a fresh iconic face to attach themselves to.
It’s also because she has not been connected to the X-Men’s recent direction that makes everything that Kitty says have more weight. Even though she is one of the most iconic member of the X-Men she is an outsider in this situation. It’s that combination of being iconic and outsider that make the heroic direction feel like something the X-Men want to go on by the team rather than being forced to by Marvel creative decisions.
Having Storm be the one bring Kitty in as the new leader of the X-Men was also a good one. Though Marvel did everything to make Cyclops, and to some extent Emma Frost, the poster child of all things wrong with the recent direction of the X-Men, he isn’t alone in being burden with what happened. Characters like Beast and Storm are just as responsible for where the X-Men have gone recently as they have been in charge of the team’s “hero” side. To see Storm finally accept that responsibility was refreshing and highlighted Guggenheim, Pak and Bunn’s effort to make things right with the X-Men moving forward.
The self-reflection of Storm showed did well in complimenting Kitty stepping up to be the X-Men’s new leader. Guggenheim, Pak and Bunn made sure to show us that even though Storm does have her fair share of blame to take on that does not mean she should go into hiding. Instead Storm is someone that the X-Men need to stick around to provide the veteran presence to help usher in the team’s new heroic direction. And Kitty being the one to make that decision for Storm showed how ready she is to put her foot down and act as the leader that Storm knows she can be.
At the same time, Guggenheim, Pak and Bunn also did a good job building the direction the X-Men: Blue and Weapon X titles as comics that will complement X-Men: Gold. I’m especially intrigued in where Bunn takes the original X-Men that make up the Blue team. Addressing Jean Grey doing the same thing Kitty is by becoming a leader for the first time was a good move. While Jean will have some growing pains in establishing herself as the team’s leader X-Men: Prime #1 did a good job in not ignoring how her teammates see her. That will make Jean’s evolution and how the others grow around her much more intriguing.
Though I am not a big fan of an art-by-committee approach for a single issue Ken Lashley, Ibraim Roberson, Leonard Kirk and Guillermo Ortego did a good job in maintaining one style for X-Men: Prime #1. There was never a moment that the art took me out of the issue. They all did a good job creating a consistent flow to the multiple stories to further help how they all built the direction the X-Men are going on. As just a single highlight, I did enjoy seeing the original X-Men training in the Danger Room again. Those images was a nostalgic reminder of what the X-Men have been and can still be moving forward.
The Bad: One of the spots where X-Men: Prime #1 failed to build up was the villains the franchise are going to go up against. With characters like Emma Frost still running around after Inhumans vs X-Men, this issue should of spent some time developing those threats. And for a comic that is $4.99 adding an extra page or two to what Emma and possibly other missing mutants are doing would’ve helped create more excitement for the heroic direction the X-Men are going on.
The other thing that X-Men: Prime #1 did not execute as well is making Weapon X a title that looks to be a must buy. Though the Weapon X team has some fan favorite characters there doesn’t feel like they will compliment one another. All the characters follow the same type of character that only work when there is one or two of them on a team. But to have a team made up of characters similar to Wolverine make it less appealing since there is no real balance in powers and skill set.
Overall: X-Men: Prime #1 did exactly what it needed to do to sell the new direction Marvel is taking the franchise on. Marc Guggenheim, Greg Pak and Cullen Bunn all did a very good job in creating some excitement in seeing the X-Men as a team of heroes rather than whatever they were the last few years. Though I won’t be picking Weapon X up I am going to be giving X-Men: Blue and Gold a shot to each win a spot in my pull list. And for that X-Men: Prime #1 did it’s job.