Comic Culture With Rafa #013

Clarity of Focus For A Mutant Future in X-Men #1 – Spoilers Ahead

A review by Rafael Encinas

After the magnum opus that was Jonathan Hickman’s House of X and Powers of X, we are now in the Dawn of X, where we go further down the rabbit hole of Krakoa and the new Mutant Status Quo. As Chris and I expounded on in our previous wrap-up of HOX & POX, we are beyond excited to see how the X-Men move forward in a world that still hates and fears them, but now also recognizes them as a sovereign nation.  This Dawn of X begins with today’s newest story, Hickman’s X-Men #1, and right out the gate, we have the X-Men do what they do best; they are taking on those that are threatening the X-Men’s new-found liberty.

The issue opens with a flashback of when Cyclops, aka Scott Summers, first gets his ruby quartz glasses from Xavier. It is a touching scene that reminds us why Cyclops is such an important figure in the X-Men comics. We see how he is a man with destructive power and how he needs to stay in control, and now as the captain commander for the entirety of Krakoa’s defense systems, we see him and Storm raid one of the last Orchis strongholds on earth. The X-Men are not being passive in their new world; they are being proactive and bringing the fight to all those that would want to see them destroyed. This opening sequence has good banter and excellent moments for Cyclops as he utilizes his wit and charm during a fire fight in a heavily armed compound. Some of my favorite quips are: “I’m always careful… it’s part of my charm” and “Be careful, they’re sure to be savvy—all these apes have PhDs!” We also get some great moments with the newly minted heroic Magneto and powerful Polaris (which makes me happy because Hickman is actually giving Polaris a purpose again). All on in all, they work as a team, shut down Orchis, and save a bunch of captive mutant children.

Leinil Francis Yu’s art is distinctive and feels energetic as we see all the action in each panel; it is both fluid and animated. It is further highlighted by the bold inks from Gerry Alanguilan and colored perfectly with vibrant hues from Sunny Gho. This team of artists really give this entire sequence urgency but familiarity. It feels new and exciting, but its grounded in what we always see the X-Men do, and that is kick ass.  

However, after the explosive opening, the issue does switch focus to a much slower brand of narrative storytelling. While many say it can be boring or can hurt the overall appeal of this book, I argue that it further world-builds and adds the necessary brevity to further ground and expand on these interesting and iconic characters.

The book delves into a Summers family reunion where we find the heart of the issue. We see that Scott and his family, including Wolverine, are all living on the blue area of the moon at the Summer House, which is a Krakoan biome. We get fun banter between Wolverine and long-lost Summers brother, Vulcan over the philosophical difference in meat rarity. We get a teenage Cable asking permission to trade guns with his new friend; (Jean quips, “Set the table first, dear). We also get a time displaced Rachel Summers who kind of looks like she is just done with everyone, which is very reminiscent of an older sister. And we even see estranged Starjammer father, Corsair even connect with his family by trying to bond with Cyclops over Krakoan dish washing.  It is slow; it is whacky; it is fun; it is heartwarming. Hickman is at his best when he grounds his characters in the everyday mundane but there is real heart to it. We get a greater love and respect for the characters when they are allowed to relax and be happy. 

We see that Cyclops continues to fight the good fight and will never stop because of his focus and vision (which is masterfully symbolized when Xavier first gives him the glasses at the beginning of the issue). For those that have followed Cyclops’ ups and downs over the years, we know it has never been easy, and now in Hickman’s world we see a focused and determined Scott Summers who continues to help his people not by being worried about the threats of tomorrow but instead, as he says in this issue, by focusing on the things that make him want to live today, with his family being that main focal drive. This is magical storytelling because we see a fully realized character who is on full display in a new world and who is looking forward to the future like so many are looking forward to with this new era of X-Men.

Overall, this is a fantastic start for the X-Men after Hickman’s establishment of the new status quo. The art is stunning, the writing is top class, and we get a powerful story of vision, clarity, and hope under the guise of a Summers family barbecue. It is some exciting stuff.

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