Saturday, June 10, 2006

Are you reading New X-Men?

I wasn’t either until I splurged on the series this past week. I was waiting on my Preacher trades but they hadn’t arrived yet; I impulsively copped the latest issue of the Kyle/Yost/Brooks/Medina run and every one back to issue #20. Now, I can’t pinpoint what initially dragged me into this book. It quite possibly had a lot to do with a recent article I read in my bible, Wizard. As I glimpsed the cover and flipped through the pages of the latest issue (#27), all I could remember from the article was a line saying, “no one is safe in the post-HOM X-Men world.”

I love reading comics where characters get popped left and right and you truly have no clue as to what may transpire next. With that said, I was also a bit skeptical going into this book; X-23, Wolverine’s sister, was in the cast. From the jump, I always viewed her as a cheap gimmick…I was wrong! She is dope and her peers are amazing as well. Any comic that stars a Muslim mutant automatically commands my attention too.

In this case, Dust a.k.a. Sooraya, the Muslim mutant that Wolverine rescued in Afghanistan during Morrison’s classic run, also stars. The cast is rounded out by Surge ( a teen chick with electrical powers who rocks metal gauntlets), Hellion (Emma’s puppet and all around prick), Rockslide (a Latin version of The Thing with detachable limbs and a penchant for clowning mofos), Forge (Storm’s ex-boy toy), Emma Frost (who is 10 times more of a fucked-up head case than she is in Astonishing), Elixir (another dude that is a few fries short of a Happy Meal and has a death touch), Mercury (another chick that sticks close to Hellion) and a few other teen outcasts that get murked over the course of the story.

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As aforementioned, hella heads catch bullets, RPGs and straight-up violent deaths in this book. A lot of people may consider the violence to be gratuitous but in this case, it fits. The over-the-top and incredibly dramatic deaths illustrate just how dangerous the Marvel Universe is for mutants and it also moves the grand story ahead with logical leaps of awe.

Pre-HOM, the mutant population numbered in the millions, they were running things and the powers-that-be were powerless against them. Things have changed; the mutant population has been kicked in the face with a steel-toed boot and reduced to nearly 198.

Many of the mutants sought refuge and safety amongst their own, while others disappeared into society desperately seeking to conceal their “cursed genes.” Those that stuck together made the wrong decision; everybody who wants to off a mutie can now find a bunch of them in one place and kill 10 birds with one stone. That is what the Reverend William Stryker does, how he gets there is easily one of the most intriguing and brilliantly executed plotlines I have ever read in modern comics.

Without giving too much away, the future is revealed to him. As a result, he saves a few people’s lives from certain doom and recruits them into his crusade…they think he is the Hand of God. This “God” is batshit crazy though, he stockpiles weapons, tortures mutant teenagers, worships a one-armed, hot pink robot and puts bullets into the heads of innocent minorities. He is a bigot, a sociopath and a herald. He is also one of the best villains to receive the revamp-treatment in comics. He will fuck you up if you are a mutant; man, woman, baby or child..he doesn’t discriminate!

Case in point, once M-Day strikes, boatloads of mutants lose their powers and revert to being homosapiens. Powerless, they can’t defend themselves any longer. Stryker takes advantage of this as Emma forces them out of the mutant safe house that is Xavier's. What goes down next is a scene pulled straight out of the Middle East, specifically Israel by way of the Gaza Strip.

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Shit goes from bad to worse as Stryker’s army encroaches upon the grounds. They dismantle the security force O*N*E, that is protecting the small enclave with massive Sentinels. They raid the mansion, blood gets spilled by the bucket-loads and the outnumbered teens must muster up what little strength they have in reserve and fight to live. Hell has once again come to the X-Men; things only look to get much worse as the God’s God springs to life with a directive that will inevitably result in more brutal murders and gruesome inflictions of terror…

Back to the cast though, they simply rule. The writing is very sharp and has distinguished these X-Men from their numerous and ageless counterparts. That’s not an easy task but is carried out flawlessly in this book. The characters have more depth than the Mariana’s Trench, the dialogue is great and they are relatable. The angst seeps from their motionless mouths and you, the reader, truly feel the horrors that plague their young and scarred lives. New X-Men is one of the most slept-on books in the medium…WAKE THE FUCK UP! This title has everything a comic book reader yearns for.

The art is chock-full of vibrant colors and neck-snapping motion, the war is on and things look bleak. What a great goddamned read, I’m hooked! You will be too. New X-Men is violent, hip, emo, hardcore, horrifying, loaded with Danger Cave semantics, smart, intelligent and funny. It is the quintessential X-Men book so strap on your Kevlar, load a few full clips into your 9 and seek it out via shelter. Be careful though, death is on the horizon and it's coming for you, mutie scum!

2 comments:

Brother Afron said...

I actually used to read New X-Men Academy, but I stopped as soon as House of M jumped off. I might take a look at it.

phenompyrus said...

Thanks for the info on this book. I have been curious from the get go, and now your review has me getting these the next time I'm at the shop.