Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Spotlight: X-Men #1

(w) Brian Wood
(p/i) Olivier Coipel
(i) Mark Morales

I don't know what I was expecting.


I had absolutely no idea how to feel about Brian Wood's all-female relaunch of X-Men. Well, I had one. I felt (and still feel) that it should be titled X-Women. But that's beside the point.

X-Men #1 is a surprisingly awesome book. It starts out slow, and unless your generally familiar with the X-Men lore as of late...and into the 1990s, you might have a harder time jumping on. But that's to be expected in this modern age of continuity and time travel travesties. Wood has assembled all the most bad-ass female X-Men for a squad whose mission is to stop the destruction of all life in the universe.

While it doesn't sound like a terribly original plot, the threat itself that really drives this title. John Sublime was created by Grant Morrison during his run on New X-Men. He's the embodiment of a sentient bacteria that's been infecting living things since the beginning of life on Earth. Though he became somewhat buried amongst Morrison's numerous high-concept ideas for the X-Men at the time, Sublime represented a deep-seeded fear of someone or something having control over us as humans. He was a powerful character, not only literally, but also literarily.

**SPOILERS, HOOOOO!!!!!!!!!**

And now we learn Sublime has a sister.

Unfortunately, she's not like her terrestrial brother who chose to nurture life on Earth. Sublime reveals that their ancient, bacteria-level, primordial war resulted in his choosing Earth and casting his sister out into space to fend for herself and hope for evolution. And now she's all grown up and angry as hell.

Wood's focus on family comes through with this brother/sister relationship, as well as through Jubilation Lee's return to Westchester County to seek help from the X-Men. Though I detest narration boxes, Wood employs them well here with Jubilee, keeping it light and fast-moving to avoid lingering on something too long and sounding corny.

Jubilee has been out of the picture long enough for Wood to bring her back without having to do much by the way of quick character development. It's not like she's Wolverine and Wood's got to establish that this is, in fact, Wolverine by making him say "Bub" and look menacing while discussing an ethically impossible scenario. This is Jubilee, a character whose been out of rotation for a long time and needs to be treated accordingly. Fortunately, Wood does this by keeping her panel time relatively small. Though the infant she carries is the focal point of the issue, we don't get an intimate look at Jubilee. She's been away for a reason and now, she's wary of returning.

I LOVE Olivier Coipel's artwork. There's not much more to say there.

These days, I find myself enjoying stuff I often scoff at when reading solicitations. It's a bad habit I'm trying to drop, but it's also a testament to how early previews sometimes skew opinions before the book has a chance to really make it's own case. I made a choice to invest myself in #1's when I got back into comics with the 'New 52' and Avengers vs. X-Men. I did this so the comic could prove itself without my preconceived notions getting in the way. X-Men #1 makes my case.


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