The War of the Realms rages on in this week’s Marvel Rundown! We’ve got a discussion of the latest tie-in miniseries to the epic event. This one features Marvel’s merry mutants, the X-Men, and is written by regular Uncanny X-Men series writer Matthew Rosenberg. How well does the team fit in with the Asgardian madness? Next, things are starting to heat up for the Age of X-Man event, and we have a review of the latest installment of the X-Tremists tie-in series. Finally, with a Star Wars theme park on the way, Marvel’s produced an obligatory tie-in comic. How does Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge #1 do in capturing the magic of a galaxy far, far away? Get excited—it’s time for the Marvel Rundown!

War Of The Realms: Uncanny X-Men #1

Written by Matthew Rosenberg
Illustrated by Pere Pérez
Colored by Rachelle Rosenberg
Lettered by VC’s Travis Lanham
Cover by David Yardin

Alexander Jones: Joe, can you believe that War of the Realms has another installment out this week? This week saw the first issue of War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #1 by Matthew Rosenberg and Pere Pérez. What was your take on the series debut?

Joe Grunenwald: It wouldn’t be a Marvel event without its numerous tie-ins! I was definitely curious going into this issue to see how the X-Men fit into War of the Realms, especially with most of them still tied up with the Age of X-Man event. This debut issue felt like a regular issue of Rosenberg’s Uncanny X-Men, but with a lot of setup for the actual crossover. What did you think?

Jones: I find a lot of truth in your statement. The issue definitely fits the tone of that current X-Men series. It is also strange how much the art matches up with recent installments of Uncanny X-Men. When the story starts breaking away from a regular X-Title and introduced the Asgard elements I got much more excited. Those elements don’t show up until the end of the issue which is odd because the book is called War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men.

Grunenwald: And I wouldn’t call that shared tone with the main series a bad thing at all. I’m sure X-Men fans who follow the main book will be happy to pick this up and have it fit right in alongside the regular series. But if I’m coming to this miniseries just because I’m into what’s going on in War of the Realms, I might be a little disappointed. Or it might make me want to check out the main series, which I’m sure is the ultimate goal for a book like this.

Jones: I can see the truth in what you are saying. This issue kind of serves two masters that are very different. The cliffhanger for the story also hints at a more Asgard-focused direction for future issues. I appreciated the eclectic roster of X-Men Rosenberg brought to the issue. It is also interesting to track the progression of cyclops who has very recently returned to The Marvel Universe. Also, I’m curious to hear your opinion about the art even though I’m fairly certain it would fall in that Marvel, Big Two house style.

Grunenwald: The more I think about it, the more impressed I am with what Rosenberg is doing in this issue. He does a really nice job with the opening scene establishing the team dynamics before throwing them into the War and conveying the sheer confusion of what’s going on and how the characters are going to deal with it. I thought Pere Pérez did a solid job on the art. I actually didn’t find his linework to be as generic as that of a lot of other current Marvel artists. Credit should go to colorist Rachelle Rosenberg as well. For an issue that is set almost entirely at night and in dark spaces, she and Pérez both do a great job keeping things easy to follow.

Jones: I was really impressed with Pérez’s art. I have been following his art for a while and this new issue was a good showcase for how Pérez has progressed as an artist. His figures for the X-Men look more polished and precise for me than past titles with his work. The really light tone of Rosenberg’s first few issues shine through here. After reflecting on the lighter tone of the early issues in the recent X-Men run, I wonder if the comic is almost too disposable in terms of plot.

Grunenwald: This issue, as I mentioned before, largely feels like table-setting for what’s to come. I’m okay with that, given the strength of Rosenberg’s character work, but it definitely felt somewhat light on plot. The opening sequence, for example, was great as far as characterization went, but was otherwise a pretty generic mutant fight. I don’t know who the two characters were the X-Men were fighting, and it ultimately doesn’t matter—they’re there so the issue can open with an action scene, and so we can see how this X-Men team works together (or doesn’t, as the case may be). I’m hopeful, given how the rest of the issue shook out, that the next two issues will find the team in more interesting situations.

Jones: It is difficult for me to recommend the title with so many other comics competing for your attention. There are some really great individual pieces of the issue and moments of characterization, but this installment just treads lightly. I think a stronger premise differentiating itself from the main book could have helped the issue. Are you ready to award a verdict?

Grunenwald: I’d say so. At this point War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men seems to be far from an essential piece of the overall War of the Realms saga. That said, the issue is very effective at being accessible both for X-fans just joining the event and for event followers who aren’t familiar with the X-Men’s goings-on. The script is solid and the art is enjoyable. I’m giving this one a hearty BROWSE.

Jones: With so many titles on the shelves it is really difficult for me to see past this issue’s flaws. I would definitely have been more interested in this story if it were contained within the main book. Despite solid art and writing I’m going with a SKIP on this one.

Final Verdict: Joe says BROWSE, while Alexander says SKIP!

Age Of X-Man: X-Tremists #3

Written by Leah Williams
Pencilled by Georges Jeanty
Inked by Roberto Poggi
Colored by Jim Charalampidis
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover by Rahzzah
Reviewed by Samantha Puc

It’s time for things to hit the fan. In Age of X-Man: X-Tremists #3, we finally see things come to a head in Nate Grey’s fascist dystopia as the X-Tremists begin to fissure from the inside-out. Fred insists he’d rather give up his position with the X-Men than give up his amorous feelings for Betsy; the two of them are reading T.S. Eliot together; a pregnant woman is being held in chains while hospitals refuse to take her in; Moneta is desperate to prove that a resistance exists and that the X-Tremists are duty-bound to dismantle it, even if its members aren’t actively committing crimes.

For those who aren’t keeping up with the Age of X-Man event, it comprises a series of minis that all occupy the same alternate universe wherein all forms of love have been outlawed. The X-Tremists enforce these archaic laws primarily through mind-wiping those who break them; with the most extreme cases, they commit prisoners to the Danger Room penitentiary. In X-Tremists #3, we see the team’s number decrease by one as the most fanatical member takes her hatred of mutants-who-acknowledge-they-feel-love way too far.

This issue is sexy. Georges Jeanty and Roberto Poggi put lots of focus on facial expressions and body language, zooming in close in panels where there’s little to no dialogue, or dialogue exchanged between background characters, to drive home the forbidden emotions being expressed by Fred and Betsy. When the characters dive head-first into a fight at the end of the issue, the panels zoom out, but remain grounded by a single lamp that keeps attracting and killing bugs — one that Fred rips down and crushes in a perfect acknowledgment of the continuing moth-flame metaphor writer Leah Williams has been playing with throughout this series.

One of the most effective elements of X-Tremists is Jim Charalampidis’ color palette, which is muted enough to give off a supremely creepy vibe in the context of the actual story. Everything looks cheerful, but beneath the surface, something truly sinister is going on. In issue #3, a decrepit, defunct old library sets the scene for one of the most dramatic sequences in the Age of X-Man event so far and Charalampidis handles the switch with aplomb. The dichotomy between the lighter panels and the rich, dark hues in the back of this issue help usher the reader into the next stage of this story: where everything (presumably) shatters into a million pieces.

In addition to stunning art and perfect, chilling color work, Williams’ writing in this issue is deeply emotional. One of the major themes of this series is bodily autonomy — not just the ability to feel, give and receive love, but the ability to exist in a body and how complicated that can be. In issue #2, we saw Fred painted in a totally new light and in issue #3, we see Betsy processing a painful memory from her old life that tackles a subject not usually dealt with (or at least not very well) in comics: eating disorders. In Nate Grey’s world, does self-love have a place? Is it outlawed like romantic and familial love?

How can anyone survive in a world where they’re not allowed to feel these things?

Personally, this issue is a definite BUY. With each new issue of X-Tremists, I’m blown away by the attention to detail and the carefully-laid groundwork that slowly pays off through the course of the story. Now that the team is breaking down and there’s real question as to whether what they’re doing is even right, with just two issues to go, the conclusion to this series is sure to be intense. Frankly, I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Final Verdict: BUY.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge #1

Written by Ethan Sacks
Illustrated by Will Sliney
Colored by Dono Sánchez-Almara with Protobunker
Lettered by VC’s Travis Lanham
Cover by Rod Reis
Reviewed by AJ Frost

We are only weeks away from the opening of Galaxy’s Edge, Disney’s mysterious new addition to its theme parks in Anaheim and Orlando. These new parks have been advertised in a shroud of deliberate obfuscation. The only hint that the general public has been privy to is that the expansion land is meant to represent the Black Spire Outpost on the planet Batuu, a congregating spot for all manner of rogues, bounty hunters, smugglers, and unsavory characters (and families of all ages!). As Disney prepares the roll out, Marvel gives us one of the first glimpses of the Black Spire Outpost and its inhabitant in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge #1. Does this in-universe preview provide any tantalizing insight on what we might be able to soon see in real life?

The answer is yes… and no.

Written by Ethan Sacks with art from Will Sliney, Galaxy’s Edge #1 has the delicate role of both introducing a part of the Star Wars universe that we have never seen before while also ensuring that we don’t see too much. Readers are immediately introduced to the Black Spire Outpost at the street level, mimicking the level of immersion that will surely be a hallmark of the physical park. The first character we meet is Remex, a green-skinned smuggler, meeting his compatriots Kendoh and Wooro on the way to accept a gig from Dok-Ondar, an Ithorian dealer of illicit goods. Ondar needs Remex and crew to obtain a rare and highly valuable object for him. But before we even see the adventure, Ondar tells the story about how the smuggler he hired for a previous job managed to get him an infant sarlacc. At this point, we leave the present of the Black Spire Outpost and go on a journey with [SPOILER] Han Solo and Chewbacca as they obtain the sarlacc (and barely escape while doing so!).

There’s much to unpack here. I suppose that a comic based on a new Disney park would obviously have to hew close to the company line, and the fact that readers weren’t treated to an exploration of the new locale and instead are given a fetch quest tale featuring fan-favorite characters is a disappointment and a missed opportunity. Sacks does his best to make Han and Chewie’s (mis)adventures fun (with Han casually dropping lines that allude to the Original Trilogy on the regular), but if we know that there are no stakes involved, then what is the point at all? While this comic is definitely more of a marketing tool to get people ready for the new parks, it still would have been interesting to see more of the mechanics of the land: its inhabitants, its lore, its place in the larger mythos.

Over on the art side, Sliney does a fantastic job of portraying the action that is so part and parcel of the Star Wars brand. While we don’t see much of Black Spire Outpost, what we do see is enough to get us ever more intrigued by how these streets will look once the parks are open. Every creature model looks on point (even the sarlaccs out of their pit… so gross), and the action is solid. If there is anything to critique, it is that there is a bit of a sterile and overly clean sheen to the comic’s art, which is more of an observation of recent Star Wars books generally. Han does look a little off here and there and seeing Chewbacca pull some moves out of a kung fu flick is…odd. But there is nothing contained in these pages that will offend or be considered egregious to the legacy of these characters.

So, overall, Galaxy’s Edge #1 is in a tricky spot. It has to both launch a new arc and launch a new park. It succeeds somewhat. But the major problem of this book is that it doesn’t have anything fresh to say, which is shocking. Here we are at the brink of a new phase in Star Wars history with the possibility to follow the adventures of all sorts of characters and instead we get another Han and Chewie tale. I’m not saying that that’s a bad thing per se, but just a crutch that could have been avoided.

Final Verdict: This is a BROWSE. While this book does have some energy, it also recycles the same tropes we’ve seen with Star Wars stories for years.

Next week, the Savage Avengers assemble!