Despite what you may have heard, it’s extremely unlikely that Marvel will ever permanently cancel the X-Men titles. The mutants clearly aren’t the focal point that once were in the Marvel Universe, but they’re bound to have a resurgence at some point. Even the Fantastic Four won’t stay gone forever!
Still, when a book comes along called Death of X, it’s understandable why some passionate X-fans are worrying about the fates of their favorite characters. Consider this your spoiler warning, because somebody doesn’t make it out of this issue intact!
Death of X #1 was co-written by Jeff Lemire and Charles Soule, the writers behind Extraordinary X-Men and Uncanny Inhumans, respectively. For established characters like the X-Men, their “voice” is such an important part of who they are that it really stands out when the characters are off. It’s the small things that matter, like the well-earned tension between Cyclops and Beast that is nowhere to be found when they finally speak in this issue. Cyclops’ impromptu declaration of war also seemed a bit rash, even for him. We get that everything is leading towards the already announced Inhumans vs. X-Men miniseries, but it feels like the conflict is being rushed.
For the most part, this issue splits the focus between the X-Men investigating an incident at Muir Island and the Uncanny Inhumans team dealing with a terrorist attack at a Terrigen landing site in Japan. If you’re not familiar with these new Inhumans, you may be a little lost. But it doesn’t help that they’re such bland characters that the X-Men immediately seem more compelling, even if they aren’t exactly in-character.
The big revelation is something that readers of Marvel’s post-Secret War books already knew: the Inhumans’ Terrigen clouds are poisoning mutants. Lemire and Soule do a good job of selling the scale of the problem, but their chosen victim for this issue is problematic. We’re not going to spoil the identity of the dead mutant, except to say that someone who has had years and years of development as the lead character in an X-related title just had the Marvel Universe’s equivalent of a Boba Fett death. So, all of that work, all of that time, just went down the drain for a cheap shock value death. Way to go, Marvel!
Sometimes we wonder if the writers do their homework on these characters, because this person was married to someone who could potentially have a very compelling reaction to what just went down. And instead, the story basically pretended that this person’s significant other doesn’t exist. It’s entirely possible that the next issue, or the remaining issues of this series could rectify that. But it seems like a fact more likely to be ignored than utilized. However, let’s put it to the readers: if someone could raise the dead with a touch, but with a high price, wouldn’t that be very interesting to explore in this situation?
This issue does have some redeeming features, primarily in the artwork by Aaron Kuder. His depiction of the numerous Terrigen mist ravaged bodies is suitably horrifying, and he delivered some really fun visuals during the Inhumans’ action sequence in Japan. Kuder’s design for the emerging Inhuman was also very strong, and his pages were easy to follow. There were a few panels that reminded us of Frank Quitely’s art from his New X-Men run over a decade ago. We don’t think that Kuder was aping the style of Quitely, but his pages captured some of that flavor.
Death of X #1 was at its best during the brief fighting scenes, which allowed Lemire and Soule to let Kuder cut loose on the book. We can’t fault Kuder on this one, but we expect more from talented writers like Lemire and Soule. Both of them need to remind us why we love the X-Men and why we should love the Inhumans. Because right now, it’s a pretty one-sided conflict. If you’ve ever loved Marvel’s mutants, chances are good that you’re already rooting for them in this fight. Nothing the Inhumans did in this issue will change that.
RATING: 2 OUT OF 5 BURRITOS
What did you think about Death of X #1? Let us know in the comment section below!
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Images: Marvel Comics