X-MEN #1 – Review by Nathan Harrison
Written by: Gerry Duggan
Art: Pepe Larraz
Colours: Marte Gracia
|Released: 07/07/21||Published by Marvel Comics|
The last couple of years’ worth of X-output headed up by mutant mastermind Jonathan Hickman has, quite rightly, been showered with praise. Fans have been treated to something all new and all different across the whole stable of X-related titles, creating a unique, morally complex, interwoven saga of the sort that only Hickman, the master of the long game, could conjure up. While that opus is continuing apace (the Reign of X era is now in full swing), this new run of the core title takes a more back-to-basics approach, firmly re-establishing the X-Men as what they have always been first and foremost – superheroes.
Following some time in isolation on the sovereign mutant island of Krakoa, mutantkind has now reintroduced itself to the world with the events of the Hellfire Gala and the one-shot Planet Size X-Men. The need-to-know elements of these are covered enough so as not to distract but also to fill new readers in sufficiently to enjoy this new run. While this title will likely still form a part of the bigger picture, those who want something a little more classic from their comics will lap this first issue up – veteran Deadpool scribe Gerry Duggan takes the reins and injects proceedings with a sense of playfulness and childlike glee, deploying hints of Silver Age style narration and a fun team dynamic to make this really stand out from the last few years’ worth of Krakoan adventures. Oh, and the X-Men’s base in New York is an actual goddamn treehouse! Simply put, this new set up is grin-inducing.
What’s more, Marvel have chosen the perfect artist for this run. Pepe Larraz is one of the finest illustrators working in comics today – his work on other recent X-Men related titles with Jonathan Hickman such as House of X was astounding, bringing this most recent era to life from the very start. Here, thanks to Duggan’s no holds barred script, Larraz is allowed to go to town, bringing a sense of dynamism to every panel, ably assisted by colour artist Marte Gracia. His work within the X-Men world has been nothing short of definitive, and he shows no signs of stopping with this latest offering.
That’s not to say that the whole issue is sunshine and rainbows – a new threat reveals itself, prompted by the mutant nation’s terraforming of Mars, and Larraz shows that he can do disturbing, twisted imagery just as proficiently as action-packed superheroics. Chances are things are only going to get darker as the run goes on.
While ‘Head of X’ Jonathan Hickman’s sweeping vision for mutantkind continues to be utterly compelling, this new start for the flagship title acts as a refreshing pallet cleanser for those who like their X-Men action ripped straight out of the Claremont era or even the classic ‘90s cartoon. This title does and will undoubtedly continue to form a part of a wider, earth-shattering narrative, but for anybody who feels somewhat intimidated by the scope of the current X-Men range, Duggan’s X-Men makes for a solid jumping on point, with no indication as of yet that it won’t act perfectly well as a fun, escapist standalone piece for those who want in on this exhilarating and intriguing era.
Review by Nathan Harrison, 09/07/2021