By Marc Guggenheim, Greg Pak, Cullen Bunn, Ken Lashley, Ibraim Robertson, Leonard Kirk, Guillermo Ortego, Morry Hollowell, Frank D’Armata & Michael Garland
Following the mega-crossover between the X-Men and the Inhumans, X-Men Prime #1 takes an approach that has the X-Men back to square one. Here, we’re free of all the crossover drama and put the focus on Kitty returning to work with the X-Men and establish a new home. It’s a fairly straightforward issue, benefiting from its spotlight on Kitty as she is used as a reader proxy into the current events of the X-Men for those who haven’t quite been caught up with every issue. It’s an introductory book that does little more than set the groundwork for what’s to come, but it’s good to see that largely everything works pretty well.
There’s a lot of writers working on this project, with Marc Guggenheim, Greg Pak, and Cullen Bunn all on board here for this issue with the main goal at selling readers on future X-Men books. The respective storylines are split between Kitty, Lady Deathstrike, and the time displaced original X-Men, all getting a decent amount of attention as the status quo for each of their respective books is established here. It’s clear that the book benefits from Kitty no longer being a part of the Guardians of the Galaxy anymore, and it’s used to explore her new status quo effectively. At the same time, this approach isn’t particularly new, as this was a similar tactic employed by Joss Whedon way back in his excellent Astonishing X-Men run. This is all designed to set-up X-Men Gold by Marc Guggenheim which debuts next month, and it does a decent job at setting the scene, if nothing too remarkable.
Unfortunately, the few pages that readers spend with Lady Deathstrike aren’t really enough to convince readers that Greg Pak’s upcoming Weapon X series will be worth following. The concept isn’t anything new and it seems to be going for a Suicide Squad approach with the characters that they’ve assembled. As a result there ultimately isn’t enough page-time to draw the audiences in. That being said, Pak will obviously have more room to breathe in Weapon X #1 proper, and there is plenty of potential to be explored here.
The third main storyline is Cullen Bunn’s X-Men Blue which focuses on the original five X-Men and does a much better job at convincing readers to buy this book than Weapon X. Their characters feel fresh and engaging, and the dynamic will no doubt continue to be a really fun one to read. It does, however, run the risk of being something that readers have seen before, especially since All New X-Men has been around for quite a while now.
The artwork is more cohesive than the writing, flowing evenly throughout the pages, with Ken Lashley handling his sections of the book incredibly well. Kitty is portrayed with great depth as her emotions are conveyed effectively throughout the issue and Lashley really puts the focus on all the right scenes needed to make them stand out. This is a theme continued throughout the book with the likes of Ibraim Robertson, Leonard Kirk, and Guillermo Ortego really bringing their A-games to the table in their respective scenes. The Danger room scene featuring the original X-Men is one of the best-illustrated scenes of the issue, full of colorful action that really brings the scene to life, and vibrant background details that make it really stand out. Given how many of them there are here, all the characters’ portrayals are familiar and well executed.
The colorists too all do an effective job at bringing them to life, with Morry Hollowell, Frank D’Armata, and Michael Garland helping create a similar atmosphere across much of the book and it’s only the Weapon X chapters that don’t feel as in sync as with everything else. There’s nothing too jarring and most everything feels like the perfect tone for a book that focuses on characters like Lady Deathstrike.
The distinct lack of Inhumans feels like a great decision by Marvel here and it’s given the X-Men room to breathe even if this book feels a bit too focused on the fan-service at times, and the multiple storylines feeling a tad too familiar. However, the familiar approach feels undeniably welcoming, catering successfully to both newcomers to the X-Men, as well as fans who have been around for a while. With luck, it won’t be too long before the X-Men can return to their former glory.