Welcome one and all to what may or may not be the last Wednesday of new single-issue comics for the foreseeable future. And if it’s Wednesday, it must mean that Marvel’s got another new X-book on the stands. This week the World of X puts together a team of Krakoan outcasts and criminals and tries to put them to good use in Hellions! Will the team actually succeed, or does Mr. Sinister just want to watch the world burn?
Then, the second Giant-Size X-Men one-shot is out this week, with the focus on everyone’s favorite furry blue elf, Nightcrawler! With artist Alan Davis returning to the character, does the reunion live up to the hype?
We’ve got discussion and reviews of those titles, plus a Rapid Rundown of other new releases for the week from the House of Ideas, all ahead in the latest installment of The Marvel Rundown!
Written by Zeb Wells
Illustrated by Stephen Segovia
Colored by David Curiel
Lettered by VC’s Cory Petit
Design work by Tom Muller
Cover by Stephen Segovia & Rain Beredo
Joe Grunenwald: The latest X-Men title is here, and it shifts the focus to those…less than socially-acceptable…mutants of Krakoa. Team, what did you think of Hellions #1?
Hussein Wasiti: I truly didn’t know what to expect from this book. Aside from Havok, I’m not familiar with any of these characters so it felt like a clean slate for me. I really enjoyed this; tackling the more deviant mutants is something I’ve been waiting to see explored since the Council banished Sabretooth all those months ago. It was pretty funny, and it looked pretty gorgeous.
George Carmona 3rd: Yeah, it does that thing where creatives take B- and C-List characters that no one cares or expects greatness from, but HOLY FRAK! I really dug this book. Zeb Wells‘s take on Mr. Sinister is awesome with the snarky banter and evil plotting. It’s like Hannibal Lecter had a love child with the Joker.
Grunenwald: I’m with Hussein in that I wasn’t familiar with a vast majority of these characters coming in, and the two that I do know (Havok and Kwannon) I haven’t checked in on in a long time (though I know Kwannon had a rough time in the Fallen Angels series). As an introduction to the team, its characters, and its function, this book was wildly effective, and it raised some questions that I’m interested to get answers on. And yes, Wells’s take on Sinister is entertaining as hell.
Carmona: As the old comic head, I do remember these characters and they weren’t as interesting as they are now. But I wouldn’t mind an update on their costumes.
Wasiti: Did anyone else feel like this was a little too similar in tone to other X-books, particularly Marauders? Sinister mentions that particular team at one point in the book so I appreciate them acknowledging it, but thus the book comes across as a little less unique when it comes to the current landscape.
Carmona: I can see that but I think this book is more a love letter to the Mutant Massacre, the X-Men summer event that kicked off the waves of other events. And with the way the issue ended, I won’t be surprised if that’s the plan and I can’t wait to see what’s over that hill.
Grunenwald: Given the sheer volume of X-books that are out there, it’s not surprising you felt that way, Hussein. For me this felt a bit like X-Force, though I can definitely see the comparison to Marauders as well. I do like the idea of it being a love letter to past X-events, George. Several of them are sort of represented in team members, aren’t they?
Wasiti: Can someone fill me in on the implications of the ending? That’s Madelyne Prior, the fake Jean Grey right? And I assume she was controlling Havok at the beginning of the issue?
Grunenwald: I think something like that is a fairly safe assumption. But yes, that is Maddie Pryor, aka The Goblin Queen. She was at the center of the “Inferno” event, if I recall correctly. How she’s back is anybody’s guess at this point, though.
Carmona: Spoilers! Oh definitely, with the exception of Havok, this team is a snapshot of X-titles from the ’90s. And I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s why Sinister wants them there. Again a great nod to the books of my misspent youth.
Wasiti: Wow, I really butchered her name! That’s interesting though. I know Havok has been going through a lot recently, trying to prove to mutants that he’s a person that can be trusted. I can’t imagine this going well for him.
Grunenwald: (Her name’s Madelyne, Maddie for short, so you got her name right on!) I thought Stephen Segovia and David Curiel turned in some great work on this book. The artwork definitely feel at home alongside the visual style of the other X-books. I really enjoyed the way Segovia used consecutive panels from the same ‘camera angle’ to great effect, particularly during the introduction of Empath and some of the Krakoan Council discussion scenes.
Wasiti: This is a great art team. I’ve been reading Segovia’s comics for years and this is a real upgrade for him, everything from the figures to the camera angles you mentioned. It helps that Curiel is injecting a lot of life and energy into these pages as well.
Carmona: While the Women characters are a touch over-sexualized, I agree Segovia’s art and Curiel colors are solid, giving a clean look to the book, making it easy for readers to follow along visually.
Wasiti: I guess it follows in that ’90s tradition in that regard.
Grunenwald: You’re not wrong there, George. Kwannon, decked out in the ’90s Psylocke costume, definitely gets a little ‘male gaze’-y at points, and I’m sure we’ll see the same for Madelyne once she’s fully in the book. Both of their costumes lend themselves to that.
Wasiti: There are a lot of references, both in the comic and in this discussion, to older X-Men stories. Do you think that’s a barrier to entry for some new readers who jumped on with this relaunch of the franchise? I was lost myself, and I’ve been keeping up with every title for the past couple of years.
Grunenwald: I was worried that not knowing who any of the characters were would hinder my enjoyment of the issue, but overall I didn’t find that to be the case. The only hiccup I had was the introduction of former Marauder Scalphunter; his intro and encounter with the Morlocks would probably have carried a lot more weight had I known who he was ahead of time. I could infer things based on what was presented, though.
Carmona: If I were a new reader I think I would have been okay. I feel like they did a great job in establishing the main team and I’m sure they’ll layout the back histories in future stories.
Grunenwald: Madelyne Pryor’s appearance at the end will probably leave some readers scratching their heads, but that’s a cliffhanger for you. Hussein, you said you were lost — were you so lost that it detracted from the issue for you?
Wasiti: It didn’t exactly detract; the comic is well-written enough to make even the more confusing bits at least enjoyable to read. It’s just that nearly none of these characters have appeared in any significant capacity in recent years, let alone HoXPoX, so there were subtle scenes and moments between characters that flew over my head. And given the crazy publishing history of this franchise, I wouldn’t even know where to start looking.
Carmona: I think that’s the genius of using most of these characters you don’t need to know or care about them.
Wasiti: You have a point, but I’m wondering about what this means for the general Hickman era. Not that it’s going to crumble under the weight of its own hubris or anything. I just find it interesting that in a run of books that subverts the usual tropes, we get something a little bit more traditional here. Mind you, I still enjoyed reading this issue. It just raised a lot of questions for me.
Grunenwald: I think those are good questions to ask, especially as the line continues to expand. Unfortunately it’s one of those things where only time will tell. Did either of you have anything else you wanted to address before we deliver verdicts?
Wasiti: Segovia rocks. There’s some real Ryan Sook energy in that cover.
Grunenwald: Oh, man, I actually kind of hate the cover? Those kind of collages just do nothing for me.
Wasiti: Also, I think ultimately this a book people are going to sleep on. I don’t sense any excitement or enthusiasm for this book compared to, say, the upcoming Children of the Atom or X-Factor.
Carmona: For the most part, I’m going to say I can’t wait for this summer’s X-crossovers if they can keep this level of nostalgic creativity.
Grunenwald: I don’t know, Hussein. If this is the last week that physical single issue comics will be available in shops for a while, I wonder if more people will check it out just on principle. For me, I’d give this book a STRONG BROWSE. I don’t think it’s going to be for everyone, but it’s executed well enough all-around that it’s worth taking a look at.
Wasiti: I’m giving it a STRONG BROWSE as well for many of the same reasons as you. I think accessibility may be a problem for some people too, especially in this age of very new reader-friendly titles.
Carmona: With the great creative team and ragtag characters, I think this title will add to the larger Hickman tapestry with the X-books, so I’m giving it a BUY.
Final Verdict: Hellions #1 gets a BUY verdict from George, while Hussein and Joe both give it a STRONG BROWSE!
Giant-Size X-Men: Nightcrawler #1
Plotted and Written by Jonathan Hickman
Plotted and Illustrated by Alan Davis
Colored by Carlos Lopez
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Design Work by Tom Muller
Cover by Alan Davis & Edgar Delgado
Reviewed by Joe Grunenwald
Marvel’s series of Giant-Size X-Men one-shots kicked off last month with a tale teaming Jean Grey and Emma Frost. The series continues this week with a tale billed as focusing on Nightcrawler. While Kurt Wagner does play a central role in the story, this story actually features an off-beat team of mutants exploring strange goings-on at a key location from their past: the now-abandoned X-Mansion.
If the largely-silent Jean Grey & Emma Frost one-shot was an example of auteur storytelling, Giant-Size X-Men: Nightcrawler #1 is a clinic in the craft of classic adventure comics. Plotters Jonathan Hickman and Alan Davis present a basic premise – something weird’s going on at the mansion – and use the tropes of classic horror and sci-fi tales to tell a uniquely X-Men story. Davis’s storytelling is masterful, and he captures the physicality of each of the story’s characters equally as well as the odd (and occasionally grotesque) goings-on in the mansion. Colorist Carlos Lopez matches the classic feel of Davis’s visuals with a palette of primary colors that make the images pop off the page.
Giant-Size X-Men: Nightcrawler #1 presents a perfect microcosm of the X-Men’s current status quo. Just as the mutants of the world have carved out their own space in the world on Krakoa, the new inhabitants of the mansion have made a place for themselves, and the question remains of whether co-existence – either through cooperation or just leaving each other alone – is possible. It’s the same question that’s driven all of the X-books since Hickman’s relaunch, and seeing it play out on a smaller scale in this issue was both entertaining and enlightening.
Final Verdict: This book is an easy BUY for current or lapsed X-fans, or for fans of sci-fi/horror with some superheroes added for good measure.
- Amazing Spider-Man #42
- Nick Spencer and Ryan Ottley delve into the origin of Gog… and I wasn’t prepared for it. Without spoiling much, the team explore how this sad creature got to Earth in the first place and why he’s protecting these tablets that Wilson Fisk is obsessing over. Spencer excels at taking these ridiculous old Marvel concepts and grounding them in his own unique way, and Gog is another notch in his belt. This was a quick read, perhaps too quick given the lack of dialogue for a big chunk of the book, but was still a blast nonetheless. —HW
- Road to Empyre: The Kree-Skrull War #1
- If you’re curious about Empyre but can’t tell a Kree from a Skrull, this one-shot’s got you covered. Robbie Thompson picks up the story of the Warner family from Meet the Skrulls and presents a history lesson in entertaining fashion. Artist Mattia De Iulis renders the current-day sequences beautifully, and Javier Rodriguez and Alvaro López return to their History of the Marvel Universe duties to present several classic moments from past Marvel comics with excitement and style. Not an essential read if you’re already familiar with the mythos, but definitely an enjoyable one. —JG
Next week: To be determined!