The teenage versions of the original X-Men strike off on their own now that they have been reunited in X-Men Blue #1
X-Men Blue #1
Cover Price $4.99
Release Date: April 12, 2017
Collected in: X-Men Blue v1: Strangest
|THE ORIGINALS! Join MARVEL GIRL, CYCLOPS, BEAST, ICEMAN and ANGEL as they reclaim the title of X-MEN. After the world-shaking events of IVX, the original five X-Men are here to bring mutant criminals to justice and restore a heroic sheen to their team. But with a new leader in JEAN GREY and a new mentor in their “arch-frenemy” MAGNETO, will old rivalries and new conflicts tear these heroes apart?|
X-Men Gold is focusing on the modern team of heroes which leaves X-Men Blue #1 to continue the ongoing story of our time-displaced original X-Men. A number of years ago these teens were brought to the present by Beast in an attempt to prove to Cyclops just how far off-track the X-Men had gone. It was a neat idea to twist around the old “dystopian future” plot by making our present the future the original characters wanted to avoid. There were some subplots rumblings about how this horribly screwed up the timestream, but unfortunately that never went anywhere worthwhile. Instead the subplot was dropped at the tail end of the last reboot, and the teens were left to wander around as junior X-Men. In this case that means trying to return to their original remit of making the world better for both humans and mutants, whether the humans want it or not.
Last week’s X-Men Gold #1 got the new reboot underway with a solid issue that was unfortunately marred by some scandals unrelated to most of its content. X-Men Blue #1 continues the trend of telling a good return-to-basics story that is solidly entertaining, and so far seems to be free of its sister title’s drama. While X-Men Gold took the approach of focusing on the politics and social side of the X-Men stories X-Men Blue #1 has decided to go for old-school heroics. In this case they track down a mutant on a yacht in the Mediterranean Sea, and it turns out to be an old Z-List standby, Black Tom Cassidy, and his far more infamous friend, Juggernaut. A traditional superhero fight ensues, complete with some mustache twirling.
While the book might be a bit light on plot, as an introductory issue it works. The fight is well scripted with the danger escalating at the right points, and all the important characters get their moment in the spotlight. However, some of the changes the team has gone through over the years aren’t really explained, and that can be confusing for readers (like me) coming back from a hiatus. I came into this expecting modernized versions of the 1960s X-Men, but that really isn’t the case for some of them. For instance: why are Angel’s wings on fire and why does Beast know, and use, magic? I have no idea, but I’m sure these are plot points that we’ll be circling back to later in the arc. Some background on these would have been nice for a first issue, and especially for one being marketed as a reboot.
There are also some awkward bits to this book. Early on Cyclops goes off on a tangent about how barbershops have changed from the ones in their original time period. I get that it is supposed to show how they feel displaced from time, but it is such a weird subject that it feels out of place. Unless teenage Cyclops abandons the team to go off and found an old-timey barbershop (which, admittedly, might be rather amusing) I’m not sure that this couldn’t have been handled better. There’s another question later on about how exactly Juggernaut got back on the yacht after being knocked off, which left me scratching my head. There are a few other missteps, but they’re all of the nitpicking variety, and as far as nonsensical storytelling goes this is still an improvement over X-Men Gold‘s varying inconsistencies.
The art comes from Jorge Molina and Matteo Buffagni, with Matt Milla working the colors, and for the most part this looks pretty darn good. It certainly is stylized in places, but in all the right ways. In many cases this has the feel of a Saturday morning cartoon show, but with better facial expressions. That can backfire at times, such as with Black Tom Cassidy who has a Snidely Whiplash quality to him, but the rest is pretty solid. I did have to double-check to make sure that Juggernaut is meant to be doing his best Bane impression these days, and that does actually seem to be the case. It is still an odd look for him, though, and his proportions seem off.
I have never really bought into the idea of the teenage X-Men as one with much merit, but if you separate them from their questionable origin there’s nothing wrong with them. I’ve tried their titles a few times in the past, but this is the first one that resonated with me at all. It is still unclear exactly what their purpose is, and it is only in the last couple of pages that we get a hint of their overall plan. That said, I have absolutely no issue with their old school storytelling sensibilities here, and I rather enjoyed this more than I expected. If X-Men Gold #1 and X-Men Blue #1 are anything to go by then this is going to be an entertaining relaunch for the X-Men.