Monday, 27 January 2014

X-Men, Volume 1: Primer Review (Brian Wood, Oliver Coipel)

How many issues do you expect to find in a collected edition? For me, I’d say 6 is reasonable and anything above that is a bonus. For some of their hugely popular titles like Superior Spider-Man and All-New X-Men, Marvel have only bundled together 5 issues which is a bit cheeky but for Superior, you’re paying for quality over quantity. In adjective-less X-Men you’re only getting 4 issues. 4! They round out the book to 5 by including a reprint of a 1989 X-Men comic by Chris Claremont and Marc Silvestri which features Jubilee’s first appearance, and pad it out further with extensive artist sketches and variant covers. I just don’t think you’re getting value for money with this book, not least because it’s terrible. 

So let’s start with the title – this is the all-female X-men team which is for some reason simply X-Men, rather than X-Women. I don’t know, seems a little obvious maybe but it’s accurately describing the team’s makeup of only women mutants. I guess Marvel don’t want to differentiate too far from the branding but still, I feel it’s a missed opportunity, especially as you have to explain it’s the X-Men book that’s all-female which X-Women would adequately do instantly.

The story is that Jubilee is heading back to the school with a baby she’s rescued from an orphanage and named Shogo. She’s now a mum and wants to raise the kid in a safe environment so of course goes to the most attacked location anywhere in the Marvel U, the X-Men’s headquarters (which has varied over the years and is currently entitled the Jean Grey School)! There’s an all-female team made up of Storm, Rachel Grey, Psylocke, Rogue, Kitty Pryde and Jubilee and there’s a super-powerful alien who’s going to destroy the world, blah blah blah, my GOD do they have any other ideas than the END OF THE FUCKING WORLD!?!

There isn’t anything to talk about with this book because it’s your standard superhero garbage – bad guy shows up and one tedious fight scene follows another until the book’s over. There’s a minor pissing contest between Storm and Rachel Grey over why Storm’s the leader (yup, that cliché gets trotted out here) which Storm should’ve just answered with “See this Mohawk?” but she doesn’t and boring dialogue diffuses the non-tension. Jubilee remains one of the most famous X-Men thanks to the popular 90s cartoon, but also laughably one of the worst as her powers remain stupid (I think she’s got fireworks up her sleeves or something?). I’ve never cared about her character before and still don’t care about her now that she’s a mum, though there’s some question over that too as it’s implied she might’ve stolen the baby. It’s definitely not hers, but whatever.

Other than that, the 1989 issue is the usual bog-standard Claremont drivel, overstuffing the panels with useless exposition, having the characters describing their actions while the narrative boxes do the same. Boring dumb story that’s horribly dated and reads like a 10 year old wrote it after being walloped in the head with a sledgehammer? Check! I’ve never been Silvestri’s biggest fan and I certainly didn’t think his art here was any great shakes. 

Brian Wood’s creator-owned comics are very good and worth picking up – titles like Northlanders, Mara and Demo – but his work for hire stuff has been very poor, like Conan over at Dark Horse, and his X-men comics with Marvel. This one is by far the laziest, most uninspired mainstream comic I’ve seen him produce yet and can only say that it’s not even worth picking up, just walk on by – not that it’d take you long to read due to its brevity but there are way better comics out there.

X-Men Volume 1: Primer

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