Marvelous X-Men #1 // Review
The X-Men are celebrated heroes in a world where super-powered mutants are openly accepted, but bits of dystopia begin to seep-in around the edges in the first issue of Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler’s Marvelous X-Men. Art comes courtesy of Marco Failla with colors by Matt Milla. The second issue in the Age of X-Man family of mini-series focusses on X-Men as a universally loved Avengers-like group of heroes. It’s an interesting vision for a limited series that could potentially cast an interesting, idiosyncratic light into the concept of super-powered heroism.
As the issue opens, the X-Men receive an alert of wildfires in California that are threatening to not only consume all of LA, but also take over a massive mutant facility known as Cerebro West. The team launches-in to save the day, but all is not well amidst the complex politics of a group of super-powered heroes in a world of fully integrated mutants. Jean Grey gains violent awareness of a group of revolutionaries that are assembling in opposition to the seemingly utopian world.
Thompson and Nadler compose a very thoughtful introductory chapter for Marvelous X-Men. Seeing the team act in perfect coordination as shining heroes is pleasantly jarring. To their credit, Thompson and Nadler don’t allow the heroism to look too grandiose. Simply presenting them as being totally accepted is novel enough. That heroism is tempered by little hints that the world in question is no utopia. There are some particularly dark aspects to the world that reveal something far more sinister. After the primary action, personal politics begin to play out all Claremont-like in a story that firmly establishes foundations for a very respectable and intriguing little universe.
Marco Failla lights the fire of realistic emotion into the first issue of the mini-series. Each character in the ensemble is given a very unique demeanor that keeps the exhaustive size of the group from feeling to blurry and homogenous. With that emotional center firmly in place, Failla is free to modulate between images of everyday life with superpowers, interpersonal drama and physical action. None of the visuals feel particularly fantastic. There isn’t anything here in the visual that lingers beyond the flow of the story, but it’s all brought to page and panel with fluid grace. Failla’s art doesn’t allow for Milla’s colors to make much of an impression, but the glow of energy electrifying some of the panels does make an impressing. Milla lends extra depth of emotion by adding delicate contours to facial expressions in key moments throughout the issue.
With this first issue of the first full series in the Age of X-Man event, Thompson and Nadler have lowered another foundational chapter into place that feels fresh and clever. As a whole, the event is hugely ambitious. This one chapter feels appealingly modular. There IS a conflict that gets resolved in dramatic fashion at the beginning of the issue, but there’s A LOT of world-building going on here that shows careful thought toward the narrative mega-structure of a series with weekly chapters coming out through the middle of the year.