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It’s starting to feel a bit like “another week, another new X-men comic” at the moment, with so many series being launched as part of the Marvel NOW! scheme. I’ve found myself having to be a bit stringent with my X-men comics, limiting myself to 3 at the moment: All New X-men, Uncanny X-men and Wolverine and the X-men. Of them all, the last is my favourite. With the launch of X-men #1, I find myself forced to add a fourth, as this is just too good to ignore!
Recognising the strong cast of female characters found across the X-men series, Brian Wood has created a new team made exclusively of X-women. This may sound like an excuse for some exploitation a la Charlie’s Angels, yet Wood creates a team that just makes sense without even needing to highlight that they are all women. It’s to the book’s favour that the cast assembled include some of the most dynamic characters, particularly Kitty Pryde, who can walk through walls, and Rogue, who can borrow other mutants’ powers. The rest of the team is made up of fan-favourite weather witch Storm, the incredibly strong telepaths Psylocke and Rachel Grey, and the relatively young mutant Jubilee.
The story sees the team brought together when Jubilee returns to America with an adopted child, after some time in Europe. She saved this child from a town’s destruction. It is later revealed that she is being followed, prompting the female X-men to come out and save her from a sabotaged train. This set piece scene is the strongest action scene in the issue, establishing the powers of the various X-men and how quickly they can avert a crisis. It serves well to show that this team is no weaker for their feminine nature, in fact they are perhaps even better than their male counterparts.
Early on in the issue it is established that Jubilee returning to the X-men is essentially her returning home. They are the only group that she has ever belonged to or felt safe – ironic when the school is being attacked every week. Meanwhile villain Sublime, who can control people, shows up on the X-men’s doorstep hoping to gain protection from an even greater threat. The concept of ‘what the hell is John Sublime scared of?’ is handled very well. The scenes between him and Psylocke establish her quickly as the Wolverine of the series, the all round killing machine. As said during the interrogation scene, make a wrong move and she’ll have no trouble short-circuiting your brain.
The only character who feels a bit underdeveloped at the moment is Rachel Grey, the character who I’m most unfamiliar with. I am aware that she is the daughter of Cyclops and Jean from a possible future, but I have barely seen her in comics, only noticing her appear in the last year or so.
Olivier Coipel gives the book a fantastic style, reminding me of John Cassaday’s work on Astonishing X-men with its realistic, film-like style. He makes the train scene a great set-piece that is kinetic and easy to follow. Each character is given a distinctive look, avoiding the issues of other books when it can be hard to figure out who’s who. Right from their first appearance I knew who everyone was, without them needing to say explicitly. He brings back some classic looks for the characters, while also incorporating the new costumes of Storm and Psylocke – a nice change from that over-sexualised swimsuit stereotype. I’m particularly fond of Rogue’s new ruffed-up hairstyle that matches her slightly out of control personality.
Here Wood and Coipel have created a fantastic new chapter for the X-men, one that will definitely be on my reading list from now on.