Sworn to protect a world that hates and fears them, they are the strangest superheroes of them all… or at least, that’s how it used to be.
Now, things are looking up for the X-Men and all of mutantkind. The sentient island of Krakoa has agreed to become a new mutant homeland and its special flowers have offered its new residents a useful trading commodity. The flowers can be fashioned into revolutionary medicines for humans and can be used by mutants to create a portal to Krakoa that only mutants can use, as well as specially crafted dream-homes for any mutant who wants one.
Still, despite a new day dawning for the mutant race, there are still those humans who refuse to go quietly into the dark night. Enter Orchis – a group made up of various members of every secretive group you can think of; SHIELD, AIM, SWORD, Hydra, Alpha Flight and more, all united in the common cause of preventing homo sapiens from going extinct and homo superior from taking over the world.
Because of Orchis, and their revival of the Sentinel program, there is still a need for those mutants who will defend their new homeland and the as yet unborn next generation of mutants who will inherit this brave new world. There is still a need for X-Men.
The chief flaw with X-Men #1 is that it assumes the reader is already familiar with the events of the recently concluded House of X and Powers of X mini-series. While this would normally be a safe bet given how highly-anticipated Jonathan Hickman’s long-awaited revamp of the X-Men line of comics has been, this is still a first issue for a new series and, as such, should be treated as a jumping-on point for new readers. Yet X-Men #1 fails to provide new readers with any context beyond a one-paragraph description of Krakoa and the X-Men’s role as its protectors.
Hickman’s script does reveal some of the backstory involving Orchis and the Sentinels from the earlier comics in the opening action scene, as the X-Men attempt to free captive mutant children from an Orchis facility. Unfortunately, the exposition comes off as forced and doesn’t really explain much. Admittedly it’s simple enough for a modern comic reader to go look up a summary of “the story so far” on Wikipedia, but they really shouldn’t have to do this for what is nominally a first issue.
That being said, the later portions of the book focusing on Cyclops and Jean Grey organizing a family dinner for their rather extensive and complicated family make for better reading, if only because Kirkman has always been better at writing stories that focus on character development over action. The artwork by Leinil Francis Yu is handled in a similarly confident manner, with the story flowing naturally across the page and Yu drawing some wonderfully expressive faces.
While X-Men #1 probably won’t win the team any new fans and it isn’t a very good starting point for figuring out what is going on with the X-Men comics right now, those who have already been reading Hickman’s revamp will find this to be a welcome continuation of the saga so far.
X-Men #1 releases on October 16th, 2019!
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.