Alex: Every Wednesday on Twitter, I pick a comics issue that caught my eye and do an illustrated thread of little observations and stuff I enjoyed about it. It’s called #oneweekonecomic, and I’m collating each thread into its own blog post.
This time out, we’re looking at Lonnie Nadler/Zac Thompson/Marco Failla’s AGE OF X-MAN: THE MARVELOUS X-MEN #1. Some (very mild) spoilers after the cut.
So, a quick bit of setup in case you’re as behind on X-continuity as I am: this is part of an event where Nate ‘X-Man’ Gray has created an alternate reality, an apparent utopia where everyone is a mutant. But – get this, folks – everything might not be as it seems.
And so, in the grand tradition of Age of Apocalypse, all the X-Men get new looks, as perfectly late-2010s as the AoA versions were mid-1990s. I’m talkin’ undercuts, I’m talkin’ facial hair, and most of all I am talkin’ Dream Daddy Magneto.
At the centre of it all you’ve got the Beardy Mutant Jesus himself, Nate Grey – seen here in a pose reminiscent of Frank Quitely’s iconic image of Xorn. I’ll leave you to draw your own parallels.
Avengers: No Surrender pulled a very similar trick, but I love the subtle glimpses of how Nate has inserted himself into X-Men history. He appears to have replaced Beast in the OG Five, and was even part of Madrox’s X-Factor team in the ‘00s.
I’m a real sucker for superheroes using their abilities in mundane ways, and that goes double for mutants, where powers are just a fact of life. Some great examples of the form here:
I love that it’s an issue without any traditional baddie, and the X-Men are just rescuing people – and animals – from natural disasters. Always nice to see some superheroics that don’t involve punches to faces.
The really smart bit, though, is that the big rescue takes place inside one of X-Man’s Cerebro centres, so we get a chance to see the inner workings of this society. It’s not treated as a big reveal, just background detail, because our heroes already know all about this stuff.
The lettering in these panels is genuinely, I think intentionally, overwhelming. All the different balloon and font styles, but also squeezing three discrete speakers into a single panel, many of them unattributed. It all adds to the mental load, and works to put us in the same position as Jean.
Similarly, I really like the final balloon here. It’s a simple trick, but having to squint (or, in my case, zoom in) to see what it says makes you a more active participant.
This is more or less my first experience of Nature Girl, but … based on this one issue, she seems great?
I’ve never really been able to get on board with the X-Men obsession with alt-realities. Like all the alien stuff, I can’t quite see how it fits into the core themes. AoX works because it attacks two vital elements of the X-Men concept:
1. The X-Men as an x-tended family (which, more than the whole ‘hated and feared’ thing, is what really differentiates them from any other super team – Andrew Wheeler wrote a great piece about the queer metaphor of it all, back in the ComicsAlliance days.)
The key rule of X-Man’s world is: no relationships. The prologue one shot last week went hard on the romance angle of this, but it’s actually more affecting to see how it stops them from forming a family.
There’s something inherently wrong about seeing the X-Mansion, a centre for this community that has been the target of so many supervillains’ schemes, just… replaced, with these individual single-person homes.
2. X-Man also sez: No more sexual reproduction! Which ties into the part of the mutant concept that’s about evolution, and sets up a nice contrast with, say, the natural selection obsession of Apocalypse (who is playing the freedom fighter role here).
It’s actually helped me understand why clones are such a big part of X-history. (There are two of them on this team alone.)
…Which is really interesting, but it all pales in comparison to this issue’s single biggest asset. My new favourite X-Men character. Everyone, meet Fungus the bear.
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