Writer: Jonathan Hickman.
Artist: Mahmud Asrar.
Color Artist: Sunny Gho.
Cover Artists: Leinil Francis Yu & Sunny Gho.
The last time we saw the trio of Laura Kinney Wolverine, Darwin, and the newly resurrected Synch, they were sent by the X-Men to infiltrate the Children of the Vault’s titular HQ in X-Men #5. An advanced technological domain where time is accelerated to conduct a century of technological progress in a short amount of time. Kinda like the Hyperbolic Time Chamber from Dragon Ball. Now, a little over a dozen issues later, X-Men #18 shows us what happened to them since we last saw them enter the Vault.
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The comic picks up immediately where Issue #5 left off, with Laura, Darwin, and Synch entering the Vault to determine the threat level the Vault and its occupants pose to Krakoa. The comic follows Synch’s perspective, giving us some narration on time, how we perceive, how memory works, etc. The biggest bits showed off the analytical and adaptive nature of Synch, the overall team dynamic as Laura is their Wolverine, grouchy with a no-nonsense demeanor while Darwin is more laid-back and proves to be very quick on his feet in battle, adapting to each new development.
The X-Men trio are written well, they feel like a team on a mission, and they feel like working unit in this comic. The fights are well illustrated, and the Children of the Vault look good too. A major downside though, at least for this reviewer, is that the Vault and the Children of the Vault themselves were a bit of a letdown. I’m aware they have history with the X-Men and were big threats in their own right, but we don’t see that here. What readers get is a brief glimpse of who they are but it’s not much and their actions and abilities are not all that impressive until the end. They do look good thanks to Asrar and Gho.
This also has to do with the change of artists. The Vault was initially depicted as this foreboding technological place with hidden potential for danger and wonder, especially the former. In part because of R.B. Silva’s art and especially Marte Gracia’s bright colors that contrasting with a massive black backdrop that was illuminated by the Vault’s internal City and AI. Sadly, the City isn’t that interesting to see with few distinctive features, landmarks, or anything really. On top of that, there’s no sense of dread about the place. Overall, it’s the first step in what feels like the beginning of an eventful X-Men story arc.
X-Men #18 Spoilers:
For those who don’t remember, the three of them were supposedly in the Vault for three months and five days on the outside, but in the inside Professor X estimated they would experience 537 years of time. What this comic starts us off with is Day one. So, I’d either expect a long arc or some major time skips while the trio are inside the Vault.
Speaking of which, the Children of the Vault and the City AI were quite unthreatening. Which contrasts with the way the City AI was setup in Issue #5. The City AI pretty much panics when it detects the X-Men. The Children don’t really get to say much or display any memorable personalities. For example, Serafina, the one member readers have seen the most in the series is killed pretty quickly by Laura before the fight really starts, and you don’t even get to see her in action. Heck, the comic doesn’t even tell you the other members’ names, so they come across as pretty forgettable. The Vault itself lacks that foreboding kick that Silva and Gracia initially provided, but it’s possible that may change in future issues.
The main fight overall was a quick one, which speaks to the team’s abilities but it wasn’t all that great either. The primary fighters were Laura, Darwin, and the Flaming Skullhead, again the comic doesn’t tell us any of the Children’s names. Everyone else is pretty forgettable except for the last surviving member of the Children who goes kamikaze and tries to self-destruct. During the whole battle, Synch didn’t really do much but provide narration and that’s it. It seem’s like Synch is meant to be the POV character for this story arc, but he may not be the most compelling.
X-Men #18 picks up right where X-Men #5 left off to delve into the mystery of the Vault. However, it doesn’t exactly gives us much to work with concerning the place itself or its occupants. The X-Men trio are fine and everything was well illustrated, but it wasn’t that big of a development aside from the main fight. It’s a nice start to an arc that hopefully picks up in the next few issues.
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