First, allow me to begin this review with a simple statement: I am an X-men fan. A mega one. In fact, like many other lucky comic-teen-nerds in the 90s, my first issue was Chris Claremont & Jim Lee’s X-Men #1. There’s no question that Lee’s revamped “Blue and Gold” X-team hooked me in with the issue’s puzzle-cover concept. So, you can only imagine how pumped The Apostle was the day Marvel announced a restyling of the legendary named comic.
It’s not been an easy wait — with nearly a month delay — for this “female-only” themed X-book from superstar writer, Brian Wood (Ultimate X-Men, DMZ, Star Wars), and artist extraordinaire, Olivier Coipel (AvX, House of M, Thor). Cause, let’s be honest, these Mutant Chicks will always have our attention.
Sure, there were cynics expressing concern as to whether this new field-hockeyesque rebranding was more of a gimmick or a distraction. Would having only female leads help or bury sales? Would the title appeal to more women as it would to men? You know, oddly enough, comic geeks already get that bad wrap for being a little “sex-starved” as it is. And, if you’ve been following any of the — oftentimes heated — polls or discussion leading up to this release, you’d understand the drama.
Thankfully, Wood’s new reiteration erases any of these recent trivial concerns, as X-Men #1 is clearly the X-men at their very best.
The writer even “X-presses” his primary goal with the title in the comic’s letter page: “…deliver a high-action, plot-dense roller coaster of an X-men story; one that fits perfectly with its iconic title while pushing the envelope a bit by showing, beyond any doubt, that the X-men…are more than capable of bringing the noise…”
At least wish issue #1, Wood succeeds with flying colors. He tells a story that both old and new fans will relish (as opposed to ketchup and mustard). There isn’t a whole cloud of gloom and doom right off the rift, as witnessed in recent X-times; instead, Wood writes a comic that establishes character first (almost true, three-dimensional voices!), and details an extensive plot with ease, despite the use of two antoganists and a sizeable — and ever-sexy — cast.
Even the least knowledgable mutant-reader will revel in Brian’s story.
Besides the All-Girls roll call, let’s talk about that dang baby. Although we don’t know much about him (despite lots of speculation on the forums), Coipel surely does mama proud with some adorable artwork. And, lord knows, wherever there is a baby and mutants concerned, haters gonna hate.
Rest assured though, X-Men #1 also offers the return of the yellow-clad princess of bubblegum — and all things good from the 90’s “X-Men” animated cartoon — Jubilation Lee. The last 10-years of comics haven’t been so kind to our favorite Asian-American arcade-loving orphan. She lost her powers, then became a fallout victim of the Twilight craze. We find her in this rebranding as caregiver to our newest X-baby, an exceptional move on Wood’s part.
This one issue does more to mature Jubs and bring her into the adult X-world than the last five writers and a set of pointy teeth could establish.
Lest we don’t forget, Coipel’s work in X-Men #1 is nothing short of breathtaking. The same way Wood effortlessly establishes and revels in the individualism of all his characters, Coipel finds the voice all the X-ladies from the way they walk to their subtle facial expressions. Along with Laura Martin’s realistic color palette, Coipel makes every panel pop with excitement and heroic fun.
Perhaps the comic’s most impressive layout, is the 2-page spread involving the X-ladies meeting up with Jubilee and her adopted child on the train. As a fellow artist, I find that the hardest images to sell are the simple moments; the moments when you are forced to tell a story, not with heavy dialogue or fiery explosions, but with simple facial expressions. This one over-large page encompasses so much: Storm’s motherly attitude towards a wayward troubled child, Jubilee’s new mother left feeling way over her head, and even a baby’s worldwind of emotions from bawling to cooing to mutant mischief.
Thanks to this dynamic creative team, the super is back in mutant superhero comics with the relaunch of X-Men #1. Exploding with exciting, lady-friendly, estrogen-heavy, sublime villain, eye-popping illustrations, this could very well be the best comic of 2013.