Thursday, 2 August 2012

New Beginnings - The First X-Men

This week we have a comic which asks us to think of a time less civilised, before the forward thinking of Charles Xavier. With a tagline on the cover of “Before Xavier’s dream, there were….” You know that from the outset that there are going to have been very different lines drawn in the sand to create this premise. Considering that the title is set before the first X-Men team it also seems very fitting that Neal Adams has been drafted in to create this new title. Also interestingly enough Christos Gage is a co-writer for the series.

My concern for this though is that Adams is mainly known for his artwork over an extremely long and prestigious career; he has written for DC in the past (Batman Odyssey for example) so I was comforted to see Gage at his side as he has written on some of my favourite titles such as The Authority.

As said before, the whole story is set before Xavier has created his school, so without him where do you start? Cue a familiar but old face, Wolverine,and also a rival, Sabretooth. As a side note I have to admit that I like the idea of two comics currently out looking at very different dynamics between this pair, with the recent Wolverine title focussing on the return of Sabretooth.

Given the task of helping a friend’s son who is a “special” child, Logan seemingly fails him and strives to make amends by helping new and emerging mutants. Admittedly Creed’s involvement is more of a mercenary, as he still considers himself a hired killer. Once`involved though the team come together with a common goal. As a nice touch there are hints of the Weapon-X program that both our “heroes” are later involved in which as a reader you can find an extra depth with.

There is a nice mix of action with the story, but also building and development with the inclusion of a meeting with Xavier (who comes across as naïve and too young for the cause). Magneto is also referenced and the distinction between the motivation of this incarnation of Logan and what will become Xavier’s is made very clear by the attraction of the “blooded” Erik Lenscher. We are introduced to other characters as well, and the cover also presents us with more to tease and tantalise for future issues. There is plenty of groundwork to be covered and build upon to come.

Adams, as well as being on the writing duty, has also pencilled the issue as well. There is an almost nostalgic feel to the artwork which harks back to older comics and coupled with what feels like a paper change to the comic (please note I have felt this in other comics from Marvel too recently (this is because Marvel have changed the paper they use for the front covers to cheaper paper, creating a very tactile change to your reading. BF)) you do feel you are cast back to a time before the morals and values the Charles instilled guided the X-Men we have come to know.

As a first issue I wouldn’t say that it blew me away as it didn’t really give me anything that I wasn’t expecting or found unusual. But what it has provided is an interesting premise that sits behind the normal history, a peek behind the curtain if you will.

Matt Puddy is also wondering why Marvel haven't billed this miniseries as such on the cover.

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