Writer: Gerry Duggan
Art: Pepe Larraz, Marte Garcia, VC’s Clayton Cowles, and Tom Muller
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: July 7th, 2021
Since Jonathan Hickman took over and transformed the X-MEN landscape of comics, there really hasn’t been an official X-MEN team. Sure, we’ve had missions into space, battles with Golden Girls, wars against alien species during EMPYRE, and even their own events like X OF SWORDS. However, there hasn’t been much of an X-MEN team. Now, the core “performer” in the main title has been Cyclops for sure. Technically, one could argue that the Summers Family has been front and center of the main X-MEN title by Hickman. Yet, no real team has been showcased… until now. Let’s dive into Gerry Duggan’s first installment of X-MEN #1 to see if these “New Kids on the Block” have what it takes to be protectors of Earth once again.
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Well, readers, you voted them together, and here they are: your new X-MEN team to which we see very little of individually. And might I add, Duggan does a fantastic job this issue getting these new members to genuinely work together extremely well as a team. Nevertheless, readers won’t get to really “know” them sufficiently before issue one wraps. He uses a moment towards the end of the story that showcases this new iteration of X-MEN uniquely combining their abilities to take down a pretty large threat.
And might I add, it was rather unexpected and unorthodox to see from the X-MEN. Yet, it felt a bit unnecessary. Instead, I wish Duggan took more time to focus on the passionate characteristics of the new team members to help readers better connect to individuals involved as the family dynamic that is an X-MEN team takes shape.
Nevertheless, the issue certainly felt like a team book again. I never quite realized how much I truly missed a genuine X-MEN team until I dove into this issue. Furthermore, this reviewer enjoyed some very subtle aspects of the comic that Duggan took some liberties of infusing into his inaugural installment of X-MEN. For example, the new home base for the team is a Treehouse in downtown Manhattan off 86th Street called the Seneca Gardens.
For those unaware, in real-life, Seneca Village was located between 82nd and 89th Street around the year 1825 as a settlement founded by Free Black Americans. However, this settlement was forcefully taken away roughly 30 years later to build Central Park. Well, here comes Duggan and his X-MEN team connecting aspects of real-life within the pages of comics while paralleling what mutants and the X-MEN stand for within our society today. This was a great similitude by Duggan to our culture, our history, and the value of the X-MEN within the Marvel Comic landscape. Ultimately, it’s a theme of what they’ve stood for since their conception that Duggan expresses beautifully.
Yet, as masterful as many of the underlying themes in this issue were, I still left a bit disappointed. The story came across jumbled and choppy while Duggan made attempts to introduce a variety of future plot threads down the line. Additionally, this opening installment felt like a smorgasbord of words, new faces, new possible villains, blended together with a lack of clarity. It was almost too much to swallow within one issue. Duggan’s focus was more on dangling future carrots than showcasing the current roster.
It’s hard to decide a specific direction for an opening Issue. Should Duggan have concentrated on one future plot thread and develop that story OR should he throw out multiple ideas to see feedback from fans as well as what might stick? I genuinely don’t know. However, I personally would have preferred one main plot thread. That said, I’m sure they all tie together and relate to Mars, as well as the resurrection process.
Pepe Larraz and Marte Garcia continue their expertise as they’ve done on prior X-MEN issues and titles. The colors are, powerful, bright, and vibrant causing dramatic illustrations that really capture the conflict and mood of the story. However, the issue was remarkably involved and a bit too busy for this reviewer. Oftentimes, the smaller panels were jam-packed with background detail that stole the show from the characters as well as the action within the foreground. The decorative nature of the issue was certainly beautiful and added a memorable tone yet I found myself drowning within the smaller panels with a bit too much clutter.
As opening issues go, Duggan’s X-MEN #1 will clearly draw interest as the next phase of mutantdom unravels. Yet amongst the clutter and choppy nature of the plot, I left feeling a bit frazzled as to who the main antagonists will be moving forward. What’s Duggan’s true direction for the team? Who is Kelvin Heng or Cordyceps Jones? And, will the focus be more on resurrection or the Terraforming of Mars? It’s most certainly ok to not have every answer ironed out after one issue nor is it expected. Yet, the attraction, suspense, and intrigue should be at the forefront of the issue.
Therefore, amongst the busy nature of the comic, I found myself struggling to find the ultimate purpose of the book after issue one. That being said, I have all the faith in the world in what Duggan can do, especially after seeing what he’s done in past X-MEN related ongoings like MARAUDERS and CABLE. Plus, there is no doubt that this comic will be the driving X-title moving forward making this a must add to any X-fans pull list. I’d walk cautiously into issue one yet optimistic for the future of the series and team as Duggan wrangles in the focus of the title. Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God Bless!