Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artists: Leinil Francis Yu (penciler), Gerry Alanguilan (inker)
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Artists: Leinil Francis Yu, Sunny Gho
Editor: Jordan D. White
Publisher: Marvel Comics
After 12 weeks of ensnaring the comicbook world with provocative sister titles House of X and Powers of X, Jonathan Hickman continues his mutant fantasia in earnest with the official launch of X-Men #1. Now that Charles Xavier has led mutantkind into a new era of prosperity, it’s time for them to prove they can sustain it — whether humans like it or not.
A lot has been said about Hickman’s ongoing X-Men run since it began with House of X #1 in July, and for good reason. After years of considerable floundering in the comics (and that’s saying nothing of their most recent film), Hickman really revitalized the X-Men line with his bold new vision for the beloved franchise. After blockbuster turns on Avengers and Fantastic Four, Hickman has proven he can take any property and turn it into a riveting multi-year saga; his plans for X-Men should be no exception. This week’s debut issue is the start of the so-called “Dawn of X” rebranding that will include new volumes of New Mutants, X-Force, and others, but the flagship X-Men title is the only one he will be writing on his own.
It’s hard to imagine that anybody reading X-Men #1 hasn’t been keeping up with the story thus far, but the facts are these: Charles Xavier decides to stop waiting on humans to accept mutants and institutes the nation of Krakoa (built on the living island of the same name) as a new haven for the world’s mutant population, using its natural resources to produce superdrugs that benefit and foster goodwill with the human world. Oh, and longtime Xavier ally Moira MacTaggart is actually a mutant with the power of (undetectable) reincarnation currently experiencing her 10th — and possibly final — life cycle, but that’s not immediately relevant here. It’s a lot, but that’s not a bad thing.
X-Men #1 plays like the platonic ideal of a perfect X-Men story: there’s an action-packed mission, and then smaller character interactions that won’t move the plot forward but allow us to spend more one-on-one time with these beloved figures. In this issue specifically, we follow Cyclops leading a mutant rescue mission, and then we head home with him as he enjoys an evening with the extended Summers clan — which, obviously, includes Wolverine. It’s kind of like an elevated version of an episode from the classic animated series in the best way possible. I’m excited to see how the main X-Men title proceeds from here, as Hickman said it won’t feature a set cast of characters but instead a revolving one that plays somewhat like an anthology series.
A heavyweight like Hickman obviously needs someone who’s batting on his level — enter Leinil Francis Yu. Fresh off a stint on Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Captain America, Yu offers visuals at his austere best, with pencils inked by frequent collaborator Gerry Alanguilan and colors by Sunny Pho. X-Men is a handsome book befitting Hickman’s stoic — but not emotionless — script that also manages to look completely different from what Pepe Larraz and R.B. Silva were doing on HoXPoX, and the diversity in visuals so far bodes well for the rest of the revitalized X-Men line moving forward.