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X-Men #2 Review


X-MEN #2
Reviewed By Nathan Harrison

Written by: Gerry Duggan

Art: Pepe Larraz

Colours: Marte Gracia
Released: 04/08/21

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Some of the best science fiction out there is the sort that can impactfully and economically tell a completely standalone main story whilst also effectively driving forward a broader narrative arc – see Doctor Who, Space:1999 etc. This certainly seems to be the approach that Gerry Duggan is taking with his new run on X-Men so far and it’s proving to be a masterstroke.

After cutting themselves off from the rest of the world in recent times, the X-Men are back to protect humanity from a multitude of threats sent one by one by the hideous and menacing Cordyceps Jones. This ‘monster of the month’ method of storytelling is an incredibly effective way of re-establishing the X-Men as superheroes rather than a small part of a self-interested island nation and brings with it echoes of some of the best Saturday morning cartoons of years gone by. Duggan’s little slips into Stan Lee style narration only heighten the nostalgia and should leave any X-fan with the widest of grins on their faces.

The art from Pepe Larraz continues to be outstanding and fits perfectly with the heroic focus of Duggan’s narrative. Every panel leaps off the page, from the busiest, chaos-filled action scenes to the quietest, zoomed-in character moments as Larraz shows once again that he is the perfect artist to draw Marvel books. Marte Gracia’s colours are similarly accomplished – the brightest moments seem designed to make eyes pop out of sockets and the darker, understated panels give just the right level of spook to the surprising returning threat the X-Men face this time around.

While the bulk of the issue centres around the heroics of the team, its final few pages hint at a new and menacing threat, with ripples from events that took place right the way back at the beginning of ‘Head of X’ Jonathan Hickman’s tenure seemingly starting to spread. While the X books may have shifted from Dawn to Reign, it seems these two eras are not as distinct and separate as the marketing would suggest. Anyone in doubt about whether Hickman is still the master of the long game, watch this space.


VERDICT

The newest team of X-Men continue to cement themselves as the superheroes they should be in this second thrilling issue, which screams pure quality and class from its frankly stunning cover (if this isn’t used as the dust jacket for the inevitable omnibus, we riot) right through to its intriguing cliffhanger ending that throws right the way back to House of X; it seems consequences and new dangers are ahead for Marvel’s mutants. In short, this is exactly what a superhero comic should be.


Review by Nathan Harrison, 11/08/2021


X-Men #1 Review


X-MEN #1Review 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.


VERDICT

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