Sunday, January 12, 2014
Review # 90: "X-Men Vol. 1 - Primer"
The latest relaunch of "X-Men" is a second-level title in Marvel's mutant universe with a gimmicky concept: an X-Men team made up entirely of women. Considered by a few to be a response to Gotham's "Birds of Prey," it shines as an example of how powerful and renowned these characters are. Seriously: a team of Storm, Rogue, Kitty Pryde, Psylocke, Jubilee and (to a lesser extent) Rachel Grey packs a hell of a recognizable wallop, which instantly makes it more than competitive and more than a simple hook.
And then there's the creative team: Brian Wood and Olivier Coipel. Seriously... this is a "B" title? And it has those two? That's unreal.
The plot centres around Grant Morrison-era villain John Sublime who turns to the X-Men for help when his previously-unknown sister (get used to female villains as well) returns to earth and takes over the comatose (I guess. She's an android.) Omega Sentinel. There's a strong level of crisis, though nothing groundbreaking. The real selling point is the character work, as the cast is treated with tremendous respect but still with unique interpretations.
Wood picks up right where he left off during his brief run on the previous "X-Men" series by writing Storm better than anyone has since Chris Claremont. Her less elegant, hard edge as leader rubs off on the much of the team, including a decidedly tough-as-nails Kitty Pryde. Seeing the softer side of Kitty a lot in "Wolverine and the X-Men" almost made me forget about how bad ass she can be. Psylocke is as cold as she's been in recent times, but a bit of fun has been injected into her dialogue. Rogue's self-confidence is through the roof, and I really like how Wood doesn't write her accent in. Jubilee, meanwhile, is a creative home run here. She's depicted with a yet-unseen level of maturity. I appreciate how Wood completely downplays that she's a chemically-controlled vampire now. They really need to undo that.
This is an impressive opening arc that has me hyped to see where it goes next. Coipel's art is as eye-catching as ever, and I think it's only a matter of time until Wood is handed the keys to the entire X-Men line.