Age of X-Man: Prisoner X #1 // Review
A criminally convicted mutant is taken to prison in a dystopian future in the latest debut for Marvel’s, “Age of X-Man event. An incarcerated Lucas Bishop becomes acquainted with life behind bars in the debut issue of the Prisoner X mini-series. Writer Vita Ayala chronicles life in mutant prison as drawn by Argentinian artist Germán Peralta. Mike Spicer brings color to the prison where it all takes place. It’s happened before, but it’s pretty rarely the case that an entire issue takes place in prison. Ayala and company climb behind bars for an enjoyable dramatic first issue.
Bishop was an X-Man until the law caught up with him. His only crime: romantic love. (And possession of illegal firearms and conspiracy to disseminate disinformation…but mostly it was the romance.) Romantic feelings in a world that has outlawed them are bad enough, but they are the least of Bishop’s concerns. Now Bishop finds himself behind bars with a population likely consisting of those mutants he has helped to imprison. If he can avoid the anger of a particularly brutal and beastly Hank McCoy, maybe Bishop can have a meaningful conversation with someone else who is having the same dreams of another world that plague him.
Ayala constructs a very colorful population of criminal mutants for The Danger Room Prison Complex in the dystopian world of the Age of X-Man. The surface tensions of a complex political dynamic in prison begin to assert themselves as Bishop is introduced to incarceration. In addition to the Beast, we are familiarized with this world’s iterations of Polaris, Mirage and more. Visions of life before the age of X-Man deliver slight fugues of relief from the bleakness of imprisonment. Likely confined to a prison for the full length of the mini-series, the journey here will be a social one as Bishop tries to understand what’s happened amidst a fascinatingly diverse prison population.
Peralta has a lot to overcome with the basic premise of the series. It’s in prison, so there’s just one location. And it’s a prison, so everyone is dressed identically to everyone else. Peralta’s mastery of emotion on the faces of the prisoners keeps them all very unique visually even though they’re all wearing the same green. Spicer shows remarkable patience with all that drab green cast against the cold grey of the prison. The garish colors of Bishops visions mirror the vivid reds of rage that Spicer uses to punctuate more violent moments. Peralta handles the drama and brutality of it all quite well. With the scenes being as intensely delivered to the page as it is, it’s almost easy to forget how confined everything is FIVE PAGES of the issue take place in the prison cafeteria, but it scarcely seems cramped. The full reality of prison doesn’t set in on the final page as Bishop’s cell is seen in all its shadowy confinement. It’s a very still page, but Peralta gives it a captivating depth.
Drama and atmosphere are satisfying in the first of five issues that are likely to take place entirely in prison for superhuman mutants. The introduction to the series isn’t quite as amusing as it could have been. So many questions can be brought about for prison for superhuman mutants in this particular dystopia. A more systematic immersion into the facility might have rendered a more profound feeling of imprisonment, but this issue has the story to deliver that needs to weave into the rest of the series, so pacing needs to keep up with everything else going on in the multi-title, “Age of X-Man,” event.