Welcome back to the Marvel Rundown! This week, the Rundown Crew (George Carmona 3rd, D. Morris, and Tim Rooney) break down the opening salvo of this newest era of mutantdom, with a roundtable discussion of X-Men #1! This conversation contains MILD SPOILERS, so feel free to check out our amazing archive for your weekly Marvel fix!

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X-Men #1

X-Men #1

Writer: Jed MacKay
Artist: Ryan Stegman
Inker: JP Mayer
Color Artist: Marte Gracia
Cover Artist: Ryan Stegman, JP Mayer, & Marte Gracia

THE BEAT: Welcome back team! Feels like it’s been a minute since we convened for an X-Men Roundtable…ah, the good ol’ days of Krakoa…oh wait that was last month. Let’s dive on into the From the Ashes era with X-Men #1 – so, what’d we think?

GEORGE CARMONA 3RD: As much as I’m digging Jed MacKay’s Avengers run and understanding the comic book reset button and how hard it is, this start was ok. It could be that I was a huge fan of the Krakoa Era and didn’t want to see it go, but the status quo so far isn’t working for me. 

D. MORRIS: Jed MacKay writes most of my favorite Marvel books right now and because of that, I’m willing to give a MacKay written X-Men a chance. While I know how important the Krakoa era was to a lot people, it left me a little cold after the initial launch. So in theory a more traditional X-Men book written by MacKay should be my bag right? I enjoyed reading it but I wasn’t wowed after the final page. 

TIM ROONEY: I was sad to see Krakoa go, but it felt like the stories had largely run their course, so I have been cautiously optimistic about this relaunch. I liked but didn’t love this first issue from MacKay and Stegman. I’m a little bit colder on MacKay in general than you guys, but this was a solid introductory issue. And not just to the status quo but X-Men in general. I liked the Claremontian dialogue to recap the various characters’ powers. The setup of Cyclops’s team trying to build a new life in the outskirts of Alaska and be left alone while also being mutant freedom fighters works well for me. Ryan Stegman’s art is great.

GC3: I’m just glad they didn’t go back to the school. The team that Cyclops set up is cool, I’m digging the dynamics between Magik and Juggernaut, but I need them to explain how Kid Omega was fixed up after the Sabertooth War

TR: Magik is going to be the breakout star of this book, I can already tell. 

DM: Gonna second the love for Stegman’s art here. His redesigns for the team are a lot of fun. The Juggernaut redesign is really striking for a character who seemingly hasn’t changed much since Jack Kirby’s original look. I liked a lot of the world building here. Seeing some of the Grant Morrison era mutants return made me happy.

GC3: For the most part, Stegman’s designs are funky and I like them, especially Cyclops’s outfit, but the Beast is going to have to grow on me, or should I say regrow since this is the George Pérez-Avengers era Hank. The overall art is so stylized and intricate that I found myself appreciating it, one panel you can see the veins in the plants.

TR: The new Cyclops design is slick, but I particularly enjoy Stegman’s take on Beast. The chunky body and heavy black outlines around the eyes give him a real animalistic look that feels in line with the classic Pérez look, mixed up with Jim Lee’s take. Stegman has such a distinctive look that is unlike anyone else at Marvel, and it’s very raw and heavy with lines. The inker can make or break his work and JP Mayer keeps it tight with some thick blacks and solid lines.

THE BEAT: What’d we think of the new enemies introduced here, the Fourth School? Once again, a very Morrisonian idea here.

TR: The villains are the part I was most surprised about, in that I didn’t expect them to so quickly connect to loose ends from the Krakoa books. I’m intrigued by this new evolution of Orchis that merges all of the major kinds of threats the X-Men historically face—evil mutants, human bigotry, and AI/robots. MacKay clearly knows his X-history, but is not hammering us over the head with it. He draws from all the big creators and mashes them together. There’s the Morrison influence that’s apparent just in this book’s roster, the Jonathan Hickman holdovers from Krakoa, and some classic Claremont. MacKay is making all those things meld together in interesting ways.

GC3: It definitely has a Claremont/Morrison feel with the bad guys they see and the ones in the shadows. And that works to their strengths with the A/B plots, big action for the eye candy and setting their team synergy, while the Beast and Chief Robbins give us the lay of the political landscape. 

DM: This issue made me think of Morrison’s first issue New X-Men 114. They cleared the deck of old villains and old philosophies to make way for new concepts. I think MacKay tries his best to invoke the feeling of that issue here, especially with the Sentinel at the end. He links the last remnants of Orchis with whoever the new threat is. I think the most interesting idea here is the uneasy living situation between the X-Men and the Alaskan town near. It’s a unique situation I think for the team. Circumstances force the humans and mutants together. This is not a copacetic thing.

GC3: The sentinel at the end was great, I think this was the strongest moment of the book for me because it showed that Cyclops is still on his Mutant first agenda, nothing like letting folks remember that we saved you from yourself. 

DM: Total power move.

TR: That Sentinel image has the potential to be the iconic shot from this run. It’s a stunning piece of visual storytelling! 

GC3: A better power move than Magneto’s, him floating down in the Xavier-like chair seemed beneath him.  

THE BEAT: What do we think of the potential here? Does ‘From the Ashes’ have the stuff, at least on this first glance?

DM: MacKay has a knack for pulling out weirdo parts of a character or team’s history to create compelling reads, his Moon Knight run with Alessandro Cappuccio being a prime example. And it’s clear both he and Stegman love the X-Men as a concept. I think this book will be in good hands especially if it really gets into the relationship between the X-Men and the Alaskan neighbors. That said, this first issue doesn’t give me a clear idea what ‘From the Ashes’ will be other than “not Krakoa”. That reboot had a strong guiding hand and set of principles in it. Nothing in this issue gives me an idea of what philosophy unifies this “reboot” so far. Are more of the books going to have this “Claremont Outback era meets Grant Morrison New X-Men” vibe? Will they be more like Gail Simone and David Marquez’s Uncanny X-Men book? Once more books come out I think that’s going to give us a better idea of what “From the Ashes” will be like. 

GC3: If I were to go off of what’s been done with the Avengers, I think we are going to be ok, but there’s going to have to be a bigger bad for me to go all in. For now, I’m here on the work that’s been done on Blood Hunt and Avengers. 

DM: Gonna second, the “needs compelling bad guys” argument. X-Men history is littered with stories with shadowy bad guys that rarely pay off. That said if MacKay works his magic and makes some 90s or 00s forgotten bad guy or villains like the Shinobi Shaw or the Upstarts actually compelling and threatening, I might get really excited. He’s done it in his other books and I wouldn’t be surprised if he does that here.

TR: This was the X-title I was least excited about from the initial rollout, as it sounded like the one doing the least new. But there are enough compelling ideas in this first issue that the more I sit with it the more excited I am to read more. MacKay has already convinced me this cast works together well, and the bold stance Cyclops is taking with his new Alaskan neighbors is rich with potential. The art team knocks this thing out of the park, too—and we haven’t even mentioned Marte Gracia’s colors! Stegman’s action scenes are full of energy and visually exciting and that’s half the battle with superhero books. 

THE BEAT: Alrighty then, how about some verdicts team?

TR: This is going to be a BUY from me. Solid stuff that is poised to just get better.

GC3: This is a solid read but ultimately I feel that it will need to be read in a collected edition to really enjoy/appreciate it. BROWSE, then Buy the trade. 

DM: This is a strong BROWSE for me. The art team on this book is great but there’s not quite enough yet in the narrative to really hook me. However, like Magneto in his spiffy new floating chair, I’m going to wait and see this creative team prove itself (just wait for the trade).

THE BEAT: And that’ll do it! Thanks everyone for coming together tonight, looking forward to seeing how this era turns out for the mighty mutants!

Following the conclusion of this discussion, it was revealed that a bonus page was included via a QR Code inserted into physical editions of the comic, which the Beat team was unaware of prior to our review. For those curious, here is the page in question.

Next Week: Namor #1 and Phoenix #1!


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