It’s mid-November and with the debut of the relaunched Fallen Angels book, we now have all the X-Men titles that we’re going to get until the new year. By the end of 2019, every title should have 2 or more issues available for purchase.
A few weeks ago, we ranked the books that we were most anticipating based on the roster, creative team, and what we knew of the scope. Now that we’ve been presented with at least one issue of every 2019 X-Men title, let’s breakdown our thoughts on them and how they compare to what we expected.
6. Excalibur (2nd Most Anticipated)
Going into Excalibur I let my utter adoration for my two favorite X-Men in Gambit and Rogue drive my interest in the title. They’d just come off of a nice two-year run of about 18 issues over two titles in Rogue & Gambit and Mr. and Mrs. X, both written by Kelly Thompson. From the moment I heard that Thompson wasn’t going to be writing the post-House of X/ Powers of X series – I had concerns.
The book’s writer Tini Howard is new to writing the X-Men and I didn’t have much knowledge of her prior to the announcement. That coupled with the odd roster which included classic X-villain turned diplomat, Apocalypse, I truly had no idea what to expect. Looking on the bright side, after learning that she had some experience writing Thanos, I thought perhaps it was worth a shot. How bad could it be?
Upon reading the first issue – to say the least, we here at BiC weren’t exactly blown away, despite gushing internet reviews.
Personally, I found Howard’s takes on Apocalypse, Rogue, and Gambit less than on the money. Apocalypse came off flat and oddly petty while lowering himself to squabble with Gambit.
The Cajun hasn’t been that needlessly petulant since 2006, while Rogue came off robotic, lacking her usual sass. Together they were boring- which is odd for the couple, and I still don’t understand why Jubilee was even included in this issue.
The best parts of Excalibur were the art and most certainly anything involving Otherworld, Betsy, and Captain Britain. That part of the story was the most interesting and best laid out.
It would appear Howard put most of her attention on Betsy and her one-issue ascension to becoming Captain Britain again. However, this goodwill was compromised by the book’s distracting pacing issues.
It only has one issue out, so there’s a chance it’ll improve, but for now, it’s at the bottom. A far cry from where I hoped it’d land.
5. Marauders (10th Most Anticipated)
I’ll admit that I went into Marauders a bit jaded, which is why it landed at the end of my “most anticipated” list. Yet again, for what feels like the umpteenth time, we’ve got another “team book” revolving around Kitty Pryde. A character that is barely known outside of the reading fandom, but for reasons beyond my understanding she appears to be the darling of almost every X-Men writer since Schism. Gerry Duggan is the latest of the Kitty-positive writers attempting to make me like her.
Like several others we’ve seen since the end of House of X and Powers of X, Kitty is one of those X-Men that isn’t quite onboard with Krakoa’s isolationism. She wasn’t seen during the event, or at the celebration that followed.
Instead, she was off doing whatever she does when she’s not an X-Man or galivanting in space ignoring her responsibilities. Marauder #1 opened with her finally attempting to enter one of Krakoa’s portals, but failed miserably in what became of the book’s best scenes.
Similar to the challenges that we saw in Excalibur, it’s hard not to notice several of the characters behaving oddly. Namely Pyro.
The last time we saw St. John Allerdyce in the 616 he was being cared for Dr. Cecelia Reyes as he died from the Legacy Virus. Before that, he was pretty much a sociopath. So, seeing him act like a go-lucky teenager after being resurrected is a bit weird.
Overall the story isn’t bad. It’s just a bit too tongue and cheek given the status quo.
Kitty eventually made it to Krakoa, but via sailboat, rather than use any of the other means at her disposal such as teleportation, one of her super-sonic flying teammates or I don’t know, a plane.
Upon arriving, she got drunk and then led an assault on another country to liberate a captured portal. The action scenes in the book were great (if not shocking). There’s a ton of potential here.
Bishop has a great subplot brewing and I’m interested in seeing where the story goes with the Hellfire Club. Not to mention discovering why Kitty isn’t able to use the Krakoa portal system.
With that said, the rest of the book was just a bit too goofy for my taste. At the same time, being a former Deadpool writer, that is Duggan’s modus operandi.
4. X-Men (5th Most Anticipated)
It’s hard to tell which book is the most relevant of the bunch. However, you’d figure that the one being written by the same person that mapped out the universe-altering event that consumed the franchise would be the flagship.
X-Men isn’t the title that it used to be in the past. Hickman’s monthly isn’t centered around a singular action-team. The focus is instead placed on the Summers family.
Though Cyclops appears to be the main focus, his supporting cast is Jean, Cable, Rachel, Havok, Vulcan, and Wolverine, oddly enough. The first issue started with several action-packed pages depicting, Cyke, Storm, Magneto, and Polaris raiding an Orchis facility. With the bad guys taken care of, the book shifted gears and relocated to Summer House, the Summer family home/ lunar base.
The problem with X-Men isn’t the pacing or the weird personality shifts of the cast. It’s not even the fact that Cyclops, Jean, and Wolverine appear to share one big bed-bedroom. It’s that nothing was explained.
With two issues on the stand, we aren’t offered any explanations as to why some of our most familiar X-Men are behaving in manners we’ve never seen, but that might be part of the bigger picture to come. When reading a Hickman story, one must keep their head on a swivel and have an open mind.
Overall, characterizations notwithstanding, both issues are well written, if not enigmatic at times. From the revelation of the involvement of the Children of Vault in issue #1 to the 2nd issues introduction of Summoners and the potential danger of Apocalypse’s first horsemen – X-Men is undoubtedly going to be the linchpin for the franchise. We just have to put up with Hickman’s slow-burn style of storytelling.
3. New Mutants (6th Most Anticipated)
While I’ve been a huge fan of several members of the New Mutants such as Cannonball and Magik, I never had a chance to get into one of their series while it was in production.
The first run was a little before my time and I didn’t get into the most recent one because… well, I didn’t trust Marvel with my money. There were some revivals in between, but again, it just never caught my fancy.
However, when I discovered that Ed Brisson and Jonathan Hickman’s book would be taking the team into deep space, I had to at least add it to my pull list!
The X-Men, barring a couple of flops, are typically at their best when they have a chance to venture off into space. Indeed, the excuse they are using to get them there is a bit weak. The classic team, plus Mondo and Chamber, are sitting around drinking coffee and decide that they miss Cannonball.
Wanting to make it easier to visit whilst in the Shi’ar Empire, they hitch a ride with the Starjammers to deliver a Krakoa portal to him. What follows is a lot of fun aboard the ship and ultimately a Shi’ar starbase.
But it’s not just any base, it’s the same one mentioned during Powers of X. A facility gifted to the remaining mutant population that fled the Sol system 100-years into the future.
2. Fallen Angels (4th Most Anticipated)
As most of the titles debuting during the Dawn of X struggle to find their footing, one or two have really captivated me right off of the bat.
When Marvel dropped the covers for the wave of books arriving in the fall, at first glance I wasn’t really feeling Fallen Angels too much. I mean, like any warm-blooded child of the 90s, I love Psylocke. X-23 is ok, but this younger version of Cable hasn’t quite resonated with me yet.
I didn’t buy into the concept until I saw who the writer was going to be. Bryan Edward Hill is somebody I’ve been watching for some time now. Other than being a great Twitter follow, Hill is one of the more talented writers on the comic scene right now, having written stellar runs of Batman and the Outsiders, Nightwing, Angel, and Killmonger. Among other gifts, he’s also a screenwriter, something that’s evident by how he constructs his books.
Fallen Angels is suspenseful and intriguing. The dialogue throughout, even during the more surreal portions, feels organic, especially in three conversations.
X-23 and Cable share a moment that just makes sense for who they are. Psylocke has two interactions with Magneto and Sinister, respectively, that set the mood for the remainder of the book, hopefully, the series.
In modern comics, you’d be lucky to get two moments like that throughout an entire run. Getting them in the opening volley is amazing. Art’s ok too, I guess…
1. X-Force (7th Most Anticipated)
I love being surprised. Since I was a young reader I’ve only been mildly interested in X-Force. As an adult, I even thought most of Rick Remender’s run of Uncanny X-Force was just ‘ok’ in parts.
X-Force has always been less intrigue and more fists to faces. That’s the selling point of the series. Action, action, action. Who would have thought one of these would have put me through an emotional rollercoaster the likes of which I rarely experience?
Benjamin Percy is an accomplished suspense writer and it shows in his writing. Seeing as I originally ranked this as my 7th most anticipated, I didn’t expect to love the book as much as I do.
The team consists of both veteran X-Force members as well as several that most wouldn’t imagine having any business being part of it. The series will revolve around Wolverine, Jean Grey, Beast, Colossus, Domino, Quinton Quire, Sage, and classic X-Men villain, Black Tom Cassidy.
Quire, Jean, and Beast stick out the most here. I can’t take Quire seriously, and the other two are just not cut out for the wet-work that comes with being part of the team.
However, if you take into account the drastic shifts in personalities the X-Men have displayed since the start of the summer, it’s not hard to buy. The breakout star of the debut issue was Black Tom.
Tom, coming onto Krakoa by way of the blanket amnesty granted to all mutants, is a representation of the lengths the X-Men will have to go to keep what they’ve built.
The issue itself was a delightful slow burn that kept me on the edge of my seat. I was blown away by its cinematic pacing. The script and dreary artwork were paired together masterfully.
X-Force, a book barely on my radar is so far hands-down my favorite among the new wave of books.
Which book was your favorite? Let us know below.