The return of the X-Statix creative team! Does X-Cellent recapture that X-Statix magic? This review includes X-Spoilers, so proceed with caution.
If you’re looking for spoiler-light reviews, scroll down to the Rapid Rundown, where we cover Fantastic Four: Life Story #6, Sabretooth #1, and X-Men Legends #1 in a slightly-less spoiler-y fashion.
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Michael “Doc” Allred
Colorist: Laura Allred
Letterer: Nate Piekos
First and foremost, let’s get one thing out of the way: X-Cellent #1 is decidedly an opening issue. This isn’t a critique, just a fact: there’s a lot of setup to get through to re-establish X-Statix and introduce X-Cellent, which is actually the name of a new team (and one that plays an antagonistic role for our “heroes”… assuming they can even be considered to be such).
This is all narrated by Mr. Sensitive, whose tone is about on par for a character who once felt relieved that his super-team’s coach was a child murderer, because it meant that the moral relationship between Mr. Sensitive and Coach was clearly defined, with Mr. Sensitive in the “good” position.
When you’re operating from those sensibilities, the machinations of X-Cellent, which frequently amount to social demonstrations or bizarre, super-powered performance art, are just about as terrifying as you can get. Worse still, if Mr. Sensitive thought that it was hard to find your way in the superficial world of the early 2000s, imagine how he’s going to fare in 2022, when he can easily see how many more followers X-Cellent has than X-Statix on social media.
And speaking of social media, when Mr. Sensitive gets a “Zeitgeist Notification” informing him that X-Cellent has started a new livestream, he and the rest of the X-Statix team members stop everything they’re doing to stare into their cell phone telephones and raptly absorb the video stream (rather than continue to work on filming their own, more “traditional” television narrative). In moments like this, it feels like X-Force and X-Statix had been waiting for the social media era all along.
However, while the social media world may have been updated to match where we’re at in 2022, the world inside Marvel Comics has changed a lot, too. Although a couple more famous mutants do have single-panel gag cameos, this first issue doesn’t mention Krakoa. While I can generally take or leave the Krakoa books, I do find myself genuinely interested to see how X-Cellent would approach the living island utopia for mutants, even if only for a single issue or two.
Ultimately, it’s hard to pass too much judgement on this issue, as it is very clearly an opening salvo, and it’s impossible to tell just what direction the series might go from here (which, to be fair, is just where we should be at the end of a certain kind of first issue). However, wherever the story goes from here, this first issue does present a satisfying chunk of story, and one that will raise plenty of questions for you to mull over as you wait for X-Cellent #2 to arrive.
You know what to expect from the art and colors of the Allreds as well as from the lettering of Piekos, and each delivers on that expected excellence (OK, look, I had to use the pun once in this review; I promise I’ll avoid any further obvious wordplay if I end up blurbing subsequent issues of the series for the Rundown).
Here’s the thing: X-Cellent, like X-Force and X-Statix before it, is either going to be something that is right up your alley, or something that you just find unpalatable. If you’re the former, then X-Cellent will provide just what you’re looking for, and if you’re the latter, well. There are plenty more “conventional” superhero books on the shelves of your local comic shop this week. Maybe one of those would be more your speed.
Final Verdict: Strong Browse, although if you already know you’ll enjoy the book’s tone from your experience with X-Statix, just Buy it.
- Fantastic Four: Life Story #6
- This overall miniseries has been interesting, but I must say, it definitely peaked last issue during the Fantastic Four’s confrontation with Galactus, an emotional culmination of the Richards’ family entire lives thus far as well as a cathartic experience for the reader to finally see Reed proven right in the eyes of the world. Here, things are a little more somber, not letting us go before smirkily delivering a, “Just one more thing!” before the series’ end. It was a gorgeous comic with some wonderful artwork by Sean Izaakse and Carlos Magno, whose art styles aren’t exactly similar but didn’t provide for too bad of a transition. If anything, this issue felt more in line with the traditional Mark Russell fare, where there’s a lot going on but there’s a pretty obvious message at the heart of it. Sure, we all came together briefly when Galactus showed up, but now he’s gone, there’s another threat in Doom that’s right in our faces and we’re not doing anything about it; we’re all pretending it isn’t there, so to speak. It’s not poorly handled or anything, I just don’t think it meshes well with the series overall and kind of sticks out like a sore thumb. I do think this series is worth reading, though, and will make for a nice trade when it’s published. —HW
- Sabretooth #1
- Krakoa has few laws but no place to put those who break them, so when Sabretooth breaks the main one, Mutants can not kill Humans, he is subjected to a limbo type pit within Krakoa, “Alive but immobile…aware but unable to act upon it.” And that’s where Victor LaValle and Leonard Kirk come in, crafting a hellscape for Victor Creed and his lust for revenge. LaValle will write stuff that will mess with your head and this concept of Mutant prison as a metaphor for real-world prison showcases the hustle that is the prison system. Locked in a prison of his own making, Sabretooth is able to exercise his desires for killing but more importantly questions himself for just wanting that. Also, this is a nice departure for Kirk’s artwork, I usually catch his fun, light adventures, which this is not, it feels like Creed is covered in blood for half of this issue as he tears through the MCU. And just when you think, ok this is what it is, they flip the board and let you know there’s more to this than Creed master of Mutant Hell. —GC3
- X-Men Legends #11
- We head back to the late 80s for a fun jaunt with the New Mutants through the Morlock tunnels in a tale crafted by Louise Simonson, Walter Simonson, Edgar Delgado, and John Workman. This story takes place during a brief period after the original Inferno, where the team was living with X-Factor aboard Ship, before the Muties traveled to Asgard for an unnecessarily long storyline that ended with half of the team leaving the book before Cable (and the Rob) arrived. I wish this issue had actually come out during the original run of the series, as it gives us a lot more time with this team in New York rather than the Asgardian story that came out. Caliban is written very well and I feel a lot of sympathy for what he’s done to try and help the Morlocks. Simonson’s art is fantastic as always, and Delgado and Workman make the issue really feel like a classic. Feral makes a strange appearance here, as she didn’t appear until Fabian Nicieza took over the book, but I think it works, as it helps to further establish her backstory as a Morlock before she joined X-Force. Overall, this a fun story that you could slot right into the original series and I wouldn’t bat an eye. —CB
Next week: Secret X-Men #1 arrives, plus the Midnight Mission returns in Moon Knight #8.