This week’s edition of The Marvel Rundown is jam-packed. First up, the first of two new entires in Marvel’s Dawn of X lineup is New Mutants #1! The original team, plus or minus a few members, is back together for all new adventures.

Then, the other Dawn of X entry this week, X-Force, puts the spotlight on intelligence and security for the mutant nation of Krakoa. Does this new version of the classic team have what it takes to keep their people safe?

And finally, Doctor Doom’s troubles continue in the latest issue of his solo series. Doom has been framed for a crime he didn’t commit; will he be able to clear his name of this one, regardless of all the other crimes that he has committed?

We’ve got discussion and reviews for all of those titles, plus a Rapid Rundown of this week’s other notable Marvel releases, all ahead in this week’s installment of The Marvel Rundown!

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New Mutants #1

New Mutants #1

Written by Jonathan Hickman & Ed Brisson
Illustrated by Rod Reis
Lettered by VC’s Travis Lanham
Design work by Tom Muller
Cover by Rod Reis

Joe Grunenwald: The original New Mutants are back at last! The latest entry in the Dawn of X line illuminates new aspects of Krakoa and explores mutantkind’s reach both on Earth and beyond. Sam, Chloe, what did you two think of the first issue of the new series?

Samantha Puc: First and foremost, I need to say that Rod Reis‘ art is SO GOOD. It has such a different vibe from the rest of the X-books and I love it.

Chloe Maveal: I had kind of mixed feelings, to be honest! I am all for the return of the OG New Mutants (and I agree that Reis’ art is awesome). However, this felt…different from what I’ve been expecting when reading the new X-material from Jonathan Hickman. I sat with it for a while and then it dawned on me: Ah. Wait. This is Hickman writing in the way I remember him writing pre-HoX/PoX. Exposition heavy and denser than the sun.

Grunenwald: This book definitely has a different flavor than HoX/PoX or the first issue of X-Men. That’s in large part due to Reis’s incredible visuals. His work feels like the perfect hybrid of classic New Mutants artist Bill Sienkiewicz and Phil Noto, and it’s a joy to look at. The other part that felt different was: this book is funny. It’s a book about friends being friends and it reads with a comfort and humor that none of Hickman’s preceding X-books have. I liked reading the other books because they were well-crafted and interesting; I liked reading New Mutants because it’s fun.

Puc: I totally agree with that. This book also feels different because it’s a team we haven’t seen together in a while, especially not in this new era for mutantkind. I had a blast digging into this new status quo with them, even though it’s a pretty dense first issue. I never felt lost or uninterested, which is how denser books can make me feel like I don’t want to keep going.

Maveal: I can see that. I guess I just had a really hard time reading through the narrative exposition. While I get that it was meant to be played off like fun banter and a gentle conversations about how grateful they are to be there in this new paradise all together, it just read as clunky to me. But hey — I was just happy to see Cypher. So I won either way.

Grunenwald: I think I mentioned when we discussed New Mutants: War Children that I’d never read a New Mutants comic before, so this one marks my second one ever. I understand where you’re coming from, Chloe, seeing as you’re more familiar with the characters. For me I appreciated all of that banter as a glimpse into the characters’ personalities and their relationships with each other. But I can see how it would have dragged if you’re already well-versed in the characters and waiting for them to do something interesting like go off into space.

Puc: I can see that, too. Given how Rahne died in the most recent run of Uncanny X-Men, I can’t help but wonder if Hickman and Ed Brisson were trying to call out how problematic her death was without doing so directly… That said, I do think once they took off with the Starjammers, the pace picked up.

Maveal: I am always, ALWAYS, here for campy space pirates.

Grunenwald: Yeah, you’ll get no complaint from me about a Starjammers appearance. Terrible name, really entertaining group. Were there any moments in particular that stood out to either of you?

Puc: The moment between Doug and Mondo where Doug is able to communicate directly with Krakoa through Mondo’s body was really bizarre, but really well executed; it got at some core issues of consent and communication without getting too bogged down in uncharacteristic exploration of those ideas. Loved the dialogue there, and the art was of course phenomenal.

Maveal: Agh! Samantha stole my choice! All of the Cypher and Mondo stuff really had me hooked. The idea of Krakoa being able to like…actually speak feels like a massive step towards something we’ll hopefully see later on. Overall I’m really excited to see what happens with the two of them in this new setting.

Grunenwald: I loved all the little things we learned about Krakoa in this issue, even outside of that scene with Cypher and Mondo. I’m really interested in anything having to do with how Krakoa interacts with the environment around it. I’m also curious how long it’ll be before Marvel offers bags of Krakoan coffee beans as some sort of ordering incentive.

Maveal: I imagine it will have hints of vanilla, hazelnut, and stacks of money.

Puc: Magik was HIGHLY relatable in that scene.

Grunenwald: Speaking of Magik, I’m a big fan of anytime Illyana is a total badass, so my favorite scene was her sparring match with Raza. That whole sequence was perfectly done visually, and the interspersing of the fighting with commentary from the onlookers was particularly fun.

Puc: Seconded so hard. What a beautifully choreographed series of panels! I also enjoyed how that moment came back when she joked about the one-armed priest in that chamber scene with the egg. Speaking of which: any predictions for how, exactly, that egg is going to screw everything up?

Grunenwald: There’s some pretty specific details about how the egg might screw everything up in one of the issue’s info pages. I’m looking forward to it.

Maveal: At this point it seems like the sky’s the limit. But It feels like it might be the first sign that Krakoa is not entirely as pure as we think it is. Maybe I’m being pessimistic though!

Grunenwald: Does anyone have any other thoughts, or are we ready for verdicts?

Puc: I’m giving New Mutants #1 a hearty BUY!

Maveal: I still have my reservations, but I’m 100% not ready to write it off by any means. I’ll play the neutral card and give it a BROWSE with the hopes of wanting to bump it up with the next issue!

Grunenwald: This is a BUY for me. The writing is solidly entertaining, and the art is spectacular. I’ll be interested to see if this level of quality keeps up as the series progresses and the creative teams start alternating.

Final Verdict: It’s a split verdict, with Joe and Sam giving New Mutants #1 a BUY, while Chloe gives it a BROWSE!

From New Mutants #1

X-Force #1

X-Force #1

Written by Benjamin Percy
Illustrated by Joshua Cassara
Colored by Dean White
Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna
Design work by Tom Muller
Cover by Dustin Weaver

AJ Frost: If you’ve been reading the current line of X-Men yarns, then you know that the Krakoa saga has really contributed stirring moments to the vast ocean of X-Men saga. This issue of X-Force #1 is no different. In truth, as someone who has never felt attached to the convoluted soap opera of mutants and their human tormentors, it takes a lot for me to pay attention to anything happening in the line.

But, rest assured dear Beat reader, X-Force is totally worth it. From the first page until the cliffhanger, I was truly riveted by the action on each page. Here, writer Benjamin Percy crafts a gripping tale of intrigue with plenty of blood and drama on each page. The stand-out here, however, is the art courtesy of Joshua Cassara, who imbues this comic with a singular dynamism that will be appreciated by readers old and new. Verdict: This is a BUY! And whatta ending too!

Nick Kazden: So far, all of the titles in the Dawn of X have reinforced the sense of optimism that Jonathan Hickman presented in House of X #6, but Benjamin Percy’s, Joshua Cassara’s, and Dean White’s X-Force #1 reminds readers that even in a world where mutants are technically exempt from death, there are still a lot of physical and mental threats the new community has to deal with. The black-ops team has been rebranded as Krakoa’s quasi-CIA and it’s up to the new squad to monitor the island and respond to threats.

Percy is no stranger to the X-corner of the Marvel Universe, and his strong grasp of each character’s voice has me excited to see how the team will interact and grow in this tense environment. Each character has a moment to shine, but I particularly enjoyed the moments where Wolverine and Beast — the twin pillars of the series — reflect on the predatory nature of Krakoa and how its facade is turning everyone soft. Cassara’s and White’s art turn an action-packed script into something truly stunning to look and make this book a definite BUY!

Samantha Puc: The time has come for all that optimism at the end of HOX/POX to meet its match with an equal amount of despair. X-Force #1 is a game-changer for Jonathan Hickman’s new vision of the X-line, because it challenges the brand new status quo in such a violent (and seemingly “permanent”) way. I found Benjamin Percy’s writing in this issue very gripping, and Joshua Cassara’s art reminiscent of the other Krakoa-set Dawn of X titles. Dean White’s colors underscore the dark subject matter of this debut, which still feels cohesive with the overall story being told — even as it calls current theories into question. I’m giving this book a firm BUY.

Final Verdict: X-Force #1 gets a unanimous BUY from the Rundown crew!

From X-Force #1

Doctor Doom #2

Doctor Doom #2

Written by Christopher Cantwell
Illustrated by Salvador Larocca
Colored by Guru-eFX
Lettered by VC’s Cory Petit
Cover by ACO
Reviewed by Chloe Maveal

As if I wasn’t already completely blown out of the water by Doctor Doom #1, this second issue felt like the icing on the cake. I find myself more and more excited by the idea of this being an ongoing series simply because of the delicate way that Christopher Cantwell had decided to handle the modern updates on Victor Von Doom. And when I mean “modern updates”, I mean that Doctor Doom has…feelings…?

While the story doesn’t center nearly as much on the idea of alternate realities as its inaugural issue, it leaves no blank place between now and what we last saw. Doom is (wrongly) arrested by a team of super-humans (to include Agent Zero, Union Jack, Amy Chen, Silver Sable, and Doctor Strange) for the devastation of The Antlion Project and the thousands of deaths that came with it, and is being transported to New York for a special trial. Though in any other situation Doom may feel unlucky, Kang shows up just in time to free him. Stranded in New York, Doom finds himself in the company of an old friend: Morgan Le Fey. What starts as a reunion that can only be referred to as “on-brand but gentle”, things aren’t all friendship and rekindling, as the Fantastic Four’s robot H.E.R.B.I.E. is tasked with hunting down Blue Marvel, and having him take out Doom.

Once again Cantwell shows incredible nuance and subtlety when it comes to the lore behind handling a character like Doctor Victor Von Doom. From small details like having Doom citing Shakespeare’s Richard III (which is about a deformed, power hungry ruler), to the interactions with Morgan which are surprisingly human and gentle, it all ties together in a way that — once again — puts Dr. Doom in a modern light that feels as personally relatable. You know, as much as you can relate to a dictator of a foreign nation.

Final Verdict: DOOM IS HAVING A BAD TIME AND IT WOULD PLEASE HIM FOR YOU TO BUY.

From Doctor Doom #2

Rapid Rundown!

  • Black Cat #6
    • Each new issue of Black Cat feels like a blessing; this one, in particular, offers character insights that are beautifully explored through Felicia’s inner dialogue and her misadventures with Georges Batroc, even as the two compare notes on intimacy. Month after month, this series is a must-read. Hands down. — SP
  • Daredevil #13
    • There is a series of four panels in Daredevil #13 that beautifully and succinctly encapsulates why Marco Checchetto is the perfect artist for this book. His rendering of facial expressions and emotion is unparalleled, especially as the characters crawl ever deeper into their handmade messes. — SP
  • Magnificent Ms. Marvel #9
    • Even in her darkest hour, Kamala Khan won’t rest when she knows there are people in danger — and that’s as heartbreaking as it is empowering. There are some big, important moments in this issue. Don’t miss it! — SP

  • Miles Morales: Spider-Man #12
    • Talk about a family affair. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Saladin Ahmed’s writing on Miles Morales: Spider-Man is career-making work. — SP
  • Spider-Man & Venom: Double Trouble #1
    • I did not know how badly I needed a Gurihiru-drawn Spidey/Venom roommates book until I read this debut, and now I need more immediately. Plus, Mariko Tamaki’s superhero writing is some of the best in the business; this creative team is just perfection. — SP
    • I’ve been looking forward to this book since it was announced, and the first issue did not disappoint. Tamaki and Gurihiru deliver breezy parallel adventures for Spidey and Venom that dovetail nicely into each other in a way that’s unexpected and hilarious. The ending introduces a trope that I’m an absolute sucker for, and I can’t wait to see what else this creative team has up its sleeve. — JG
  • Yondu #1
    • The Guardians of the Galaxy movies have turned Yondu into one of the most popular characters in the Marvel Universe, and as Annihilation: Scourge heats up, it makes sense for the publisher to spend a little bit more time in the cosmos. Co-written by Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson, the first installment in this five issue miniseries wastes no time in establishing Yondu as a self-interested scoundrel who all of a sudden finds himself in a situation much larger than himself. John Mccrea’s gritty pencils and Michael Spicer’s muted color palette do a great job imbuing this intergalactic series with a dusty, western feel that reinforces Yondu’s self-idealization as some kind of space cowboy. This debut is rather enjoyable and does a good job making the supporting character an engaging lead. — NK

Next week, we bid a fond farewell to The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.

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