X-Men Prime #1

Writers: Marc Guggenheim, Greg Pak, Cullen Bunn
Artists: Ken Lashley, Ibraim Roberson, Leonard Kirk
Colorists: Morry Hollowell, Frank D’Armata, Michael Garland
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

After Inhumans vs. X-Men ended, a new status quo exists for mutants on this planet. Once again they are feared and more or less responsible for a lot of destruction. The next leader of the X-Men must act as an ambassador of hope, and also reshape the image of mutants once again. But there are not just the X-Men out there. A lot of other mutants, including former X-Men, are searching for their purpose or the next adventure.

X-Men Prime #1 has a complex task to accomplish. On the one hand, it serves as a new beginning — an introduction for new and old readers alike. On the other hand, after setting up the new status quo, it shows the things that might come next: new chapters await every mutant on this planet. At its core, the issue is precisely that: a meditation on the road so far as it guides us into a new era of comic books with the big X on them.

The first two pages capture the core concept perfectly. The story starts with a new day, as the sun rises, covering Chicago in a bright yellow and orange light. The vibrant, flashy colors seem to jump off the page and create a feeling of warmth — like coming home on a Friday afternoon, the stress of the past days falls, and you can enjoy the weekend, relax, and maybe meet up with some friends.

And who would be better suited for the task, then Kitty Pride? The dance-sequence already seems iconic, capturing the essence of the character. While dancing, she thinks about the coming times and how she wants to enjoy a more normal life. But this would not be an X-Men book if she could have a normal day. Instead, Ororo shows up. She flies in through the window, dressed in white, the sun on her back — continuing the idea of a new beginning.

Then everything is dialed back a bit. The colors look more natural, the surroundings resembling those of a real city (no fighting mutants or hate crimes against them), as we watch Kitty and Ororo talk. Ororo wants to leave the X-Men and for Kitty to take over as their new leader. In the end, they both rise to the occasion and serve as X-Men once more. But first, Kitty has some things to do.

As Kitty walks through the mansion, which is still set up in Limbo, she ruminates about the things that have happened so far. It brings new readers up to speed, and fans get to enjoy the images and great written dialogue. Kitty also meets Jubilee’s kid, watches new students as they play basketball, and talks to Illyana Nikolieva Rasputin (aka Magik) about a little favor.

The most memorable scene though is between her and Peter. He greets her with a simple “Hello, Katya.” This page contains everything you need to know about those two. Either you come in with their whole history, or meet them for the first time — everything lies within those two words and the look they share. You can feel the weight that comes with those two characters meeting here and now. But it also serves as a little foreshadowing. I love those little things and how they are used time and time again in the X-Men books.

After that, Kitty continues to stroll around the house and finds a message. The original, time-displaced five X-Men left an engaging note in the Danger Room. They seek their own adventures, their own purpose in a world they do not belong.

The third and last setup dedicates the creative team to the new Weapon X series. Though very different in tone and style than the rest of the book, the scene serves its purpose. The government abducted various former Weapon X mutants. We don’t know why, but obviously they need a team for nasty, brutal, suicide missions. They need Marvel’s version of Task Force X.

X-Men Prime #1 restarts the X-Men books.  A lot of #1’s came out after that, and I am glad to take a look at some of those series with a bit of distance. For one it is cheaper, and I like reading comics on my own pace. But distance in time also allows us to take a look at a series on its own and not in the context it was released in — which can be problematic as well (as we will see in X-Men Blue). Though I will not read every X-series that came out at the time, I will at least take a look at the main ones and even some spin-offs.

Christoph Staffl

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