This week, the dream is alive in the 1990s. Jubilee is ready to electrify with a new move in X-Men ’92: House of XCII! Plus, we’ve got rapid reviews of Knights of X #2, Darth Vader #23, and Ms. Marvel: Bottled Up Infinity Comic #1!
What did you think of this week’s fresh Marvel Comics issues? Let The Beat know, here in the comment section or over on social media @comicsbeat.
X-Men ’92: House of XCII #2
Writers: Steve Fox
Artists: Salva Espin
Color Artists: Israel Silva
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Main Cover Artist: David Baldeón and Silva
I’ll admit that when it comes to the Destiny of X era, I am still completely lost. When it comes to my Marvel Universe knowledge, the mutants are not my strong suit. However, like most comic book fans, I love X-Men: The Animated Series and thought it would be cool to check out a comic set in that universe, no matter what I think about the current era. This week, I’m glad I took the risk. X-Men ’92: House of XCII is all that and a bag of chips!
If, like me, you’re not a mutant-head, then here’s a little background on what’s been going on over the last couple of years. Jonathan Hickman’s House of X run in 2019 revolutionized the mutant mythos and kicked off the Krakoa era that fans enjoy today, but with several years of back material from Hickman, Tini Howard, and Gerry Duggan, it’s a lot to catch up on! But dammit, I’m trying… and whether you know the recent mutant history or not, X-Men ’92 provides enough context for new readers to enjoy the story either way.
Saved by the Jubilee!
As an observer of fandom, Marvel fans seem to be divided into two groups, the X-fans and everyone else (comics gate is a very loud third group, but screw ‘em, so that makes two). Even for seasoned Marvel Comics readers like myself, jumping into the mutant universe can feel intimidating and overwhelming. However, part of what made X-Men ’92: House of XCII by writer Steve Fox and artist Salva Espin, with colors by Israel Silva and letters by Joe Sabino, so enjoyable is that for the first time in a while, I didn’t feel lost reading a mutant book. Instead, X-Men ’92 offers just what new X-readers need, a brief summary of the alternate history of the founding of Krakoa (that also clarifies the prime timeline).
X-Men ’92 reimagines the Krakoa era with a simple premise: What if the Krakoan age was ushered in decades earlier… in the ‘90s? Thus, the five-issue limited series brought back the X-Men’s beloved ‘90s incarnations (retro fashions included), and the second issue delights in playing with the bright ‘90s aesthetic. Based on the X-Men: The Animated Series, which ran from 1992 to 1997 as part of Fox Kids Saturday morning cartoons block, the character designs and graphics in X-Men ’92 have a distinct, decade-appropriate look.
Throughout the second issue, Espin adds other Easter eggs from the decade that transport the thirty-something reader back to their tweens. For example, the eye-catching art includes references to the iconic teen magazine Tiger Beat, which had its heyday in the 80s and 90s. Other small touches include the iconic costumes from The Animated Series because as Espin told Marvel.com, the 90s was a “moment when superheroes looked better than ever with colorful tight-fitting spandex.”
However, the story isn’t all about great 90s fashions and design, it also redefines Jubilee’s role in the creation of Krakoa. Although the mini-series is set in an alternate universe, it follows the trajectory of the HoXPoX stories, with one major twist. The change will come as a major surprise to X-fans as Jubilee takes over the role that Moira MacTaggert played in the original run. In the X-Men ’92 universe, Jubilee possesses the power of reincarnation. Every time Jubilee dies, she resets to the moment of her birth but retains all of her memories of her previous lifetime. However, the time has run out for Jubilee, and she is on her last lifetime, setting up an interesting premise for the story.
Verdict: STRONG BROWSE
- Darth Vader #23
- Hot on the heels of actor Hayden Christensen giving fans a thrill at Star Wars Celebration along with the premier of Obi-Wan Kenobi, it’s only kismet to look at the work that Greg Pak has been doing on this current run on Darth Vader. Currently, the Star Wars comics are in the final stages of an event, Crimson Reign. In attempting to destroy Crimson Dawn and bring order to the universe, Vader has run across Crimson Dawn agent Sabé, the former bodyguard/double of Queen Padmé. While I wasn’t a fan of the Phantom Menace, Pak is able to pull bits from it to make the tragedy of Anakin’s fall that poignant and Vaders rise that menacing as he walks the galaxy consolidating power for his goal. Along for the ride with Pak, artist Raffaele Ienco’s solid storytelling lulls you in with quiet moments and then flips it with random action that showcases how much of a bad@$$ Vader is. — GC3
- Knights of X #2
- Captain Britain and her knights are on a bit of a world tour of Otherworld in the latest issue of the merry mutant fantasy book, as they go off on a quest to find the Siege Perilous. I’m glad that Tini Howard gives some backstory on the item, as the Siege has rarely been seen since the Outback (read: best) Era of Uncanny X-Men. The characterizations for the team are really strong here, and I’m loving Betsy and Rachel’s dynamic in this series. Still, I’m hoping we get a deeper dive into Mordred and Bei soon, as I think there’s a lot of ground to cover with each of them. The same goes for Otherworld, which I think could do with more fleshing out as we keep going forward. Bob Quinn has some killer line art in this issue, and I’m really loving how fluid and dynamic his character work is. Erick Arciniega and Ariana Maher both moved on from Excalibur into this series and I think they’ve continued to do excellent work of filling out the strange eccentricities of Otherworld and making it their own. Overall, I’m liking the character work and art in this book, but I’m hoping to get a meatier story as this goes on. — CB
- Ms. Marvel: Bottled Up Infinity Comic #1
- In this one-shot Infinity Comic by Samira Ahmed, Ramón F. Bachs, Dee Cunniffe, and Joe Caramagna, Kamala and Nakia are visiting the Museum of Natural History when they are ambushed by Mariikh, the Destroyer! The standoff with the powerful jinn provides a straightforward plot for this self-contained story, which is paired with solid dialogue and a satisfying solution. I especially appreciated that Nakia points out the artifacts on display in the “A Thousand Years of Mesopotamia” display are on loan from their home countries, lest any Killmonger-types find themselves objecting to the exhibit. As with the best Infinity Comics, this one relies on the scrolling format to provide some great visuals, including parallel imagery between the Apatosaurus skeleton in the museum lobby and Ms. Marvel’s polymorphic neck. — AJK