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X-Men #1: A Female-Ensemble Done Right

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“X-Men” #1
Written by Brian Wood
Drawn by Olivier Coipel
Inking by Mark Morales and Olivier Coipel
Colouring by Laura Martin

Immediately after its launch announcement, the new X-Men comic, simply titled “X-Men” has been the talk of the comic community, with many waiting in eager anticipation for the very first all-women starring X-Men comic written by fan-favourite Brian Wood (“Ultimate X-Men”, “DMZ”), and others skeptical about the comic’s existence, thinking perhaps the all-female team will result in nothing more than a gimmick. Well, the first issue is out, and we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief in knowing that this comic is no gimmick.

First of all, this comic does things right by not even mentioning the fact that the team consists of all women. And why should it? It is a non-factor for these women, who are, above all else, X-Men. Instead of cheaply exploiting and objectifying its cast, like a certain embarrassment of a comic called “Marvel Divas” did just a few years ago (hopefully those days remain behind us), this series treats its characters with the respect any comic should (and all characters are appropriately dressed, too, which is a bonus).

xmen1bFor the uninitiated, certain Marvel comics can be a little difficult to get into, today. Unlike rival company DC, Marvel has never written a universe-wide continuity reboot like the Crises or New 52, meaning that the bulk of the stories published from the 1960s-to-now have still occurred in the current Marvel universe. “All New X-Men”, an on-going X-Men comic written by Brian Michael Bendis, even interweaves the Silver Age in with the modern era, and for full appreciation, demands/encourages its readers to have a substantial amount of X-history knowledge, from the ’60s series, to the Chris Claremont years, to recent events. A good series it is, but a poor recommendation for someone wanting to break into the X-comics. Judging by its first issue alone, “X-Men” is vastly more accessible to new readers. Little-to-no context is needed to get a lot of enjoyment out of this stellar issue. Perhaps it would help to learn a little about each of the team mates: Kitty Pryde, Rachel Grey, Rogue, Psylocke, Storm, and Jubilee, but even that is not necessary; Wood’s writing for each of these women is wonderfully distinct; their personalities already bubbling and making every dialogue-heavy scene they’re in a delight.

The premiere issue kicks off a three-part story arc titled “Primer”, which begins with Jubliee, who is caring for an infant orphan, being followed by an enemy of the X-Men’s past. She calls her X-comrades for help, who immediately take flight and accompany her aboard a train, which later provides a colourful and exciting action set-piece. This comic’s panel framing is superbly crafted by Olivier Coipel, who makes each page feel new and interesting. He is accompanied by Mark Morales (inking) and Laura Martin (colouring), and the trio make the most of a warm Earth tone colour palette, which is a pleasing aesthetic for the story’s backdrop.

For many readers, expectations for “X-Men” #1 could not have been higher. Partly because of the first-time-ever all-female led X-Men comic, and partly because of the very talented creative team attached. Brian Wood and company prove they are up to the challenge, however, and deliver a knock-out first issue, which has perhaps been one of the most promising series debuts of any 2013 comic series. The bar has definitely been raised for #2, and it will be exciting to see if Wood and co. can maintain this level of energy as the series progresses.


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