Inhumans Vs. X-Men #1
Writers: Charles Soule & Jeff Lemire
Art: Leinil Francis Yu
Inks: Gerry Alanguilan
Colors: David Curiel
Letters: Clayton Cowles
The X-Men has been riddled with forced status quo changes and formless, unexplained deaths over the past few months. It would be easy for any long-time reader to feel a little bit disheartened about the franchise. For so long, the team lived underneath the shadow of Chris Claremont’s legendary run with widely acclaimed A-list artists like John Byrne and Jim Lee. However, the franchise has struggled to find a lasting premise since the Claremont revitalized the team several decades ago. While there have been a few nice ideas like the original All-New X-Men series by Brian Bendis and Stuart Immonen, many of these concepts have meandered, not pushing the X-Men towards a source of sustainable growth. Inhumans vs. X-Men aims to change that.
Inhumans vs. X-Men is a series that requires a substantial amount of background before even coming close to actually assessing the quality of the work itself. When we think of X-Men, we likely think of classic team members like Cyclops and Wolverine, both of whom are absent from the team in this series. In addition, the Inhumans themselves are fractured. Black Bolt is no longer the king of the Inhumans, for example. All the collective changes that have happened to both of these teams in recent years have been added too quickly for readers to have any investment in them, but they’re all important here, creating a sense of whiplash.
Despite some of my negativity towards aspects of continuity, Inhumans Vs. X-Men #1 succeeds because it has a plot that doesn’t feel undercooked and character motivations that are surprising, but believable. The central conflict of the mini-series revolves around the Terrigen Mist, a cloud that powers up Inhumans but has negative effects on not only the X-Men, but humanity as a whole. Instead of kicking things off with a fight that bursts through the seams of the comic, authors Charles Soule and Jeff Lemire glacially explain the motivations of the X-Men while divulging new and old information about the Inhumans to catch readers up on some of the big changes to both teams. That said, the escalation of the war does feel a little quick by comparsion. There are a few a few ancillary X-Men involved in the brewing conflict who are being forced to pick a side where it might be more true to their characters if they sat out the fight entirely. Also, it would be nice to see more political intrigue and negotiation between the two teams, but Death of X has caused the mutant population to erup with anger thanks to the key death mentioned in that series’ title.
This is a very complicated story with lots of characters. That places a heavy burden on artist Leinil Yu, who shines with his moody, complicated linework for both teams. Despite filling double-page spreads to the brim with characters, I was still able to pick out which character was which. This story has a foreboding tone of urgency that is depicted very well with Yu’s use of shadow to fill in some of the faces. That said, some of the background work is sparse and the depiction of characters not in the forefront of the page can look a bit rushed, with too many lines in odd places.
Even though it may feel like the Marvel Universe is doling out these event storylines too fast, the debut issue of Inhumans Vs. X-Men feels like a logical progression for the X-Men franchise… and the Inhumans are in it too!