All-New X-Men #1 continues the bleak themes of Jeff Lemire and Humberto Ramos’ flagship Extraordinary X-Men title. However, it has a little more spunk than that grim dark bag o’ bones even if it continues the theme of mutants having no future (Terrigen mists causing mutant sickness isn’t mentioned, but Cyclops’ death is) with a younger cast of protagonists and antagonists. In All-New X-Men #1, the original five X-Men sans Cyclops and Jean Grey and plus Wolverine (Laura Kinney) and Idie Okonkwo and Genesis from Jason Aaron’s fun Wolverine and the X-Men are going to meet up for a little ski trip reunion. But this turns into a classic X-Men rescue mission once Cyclops decide to start a one man war against a group of mutant terrorists called the Ghosts of Cyclops. He’s like if Batman died and was replaced by the Sons of Batman gang, but then a younger version of Batman came back to deal justice against them with a brooding inner monologue and everything.
All-New X-Men #1 has a little tonal dissonance problem that is clearly illustrated in the first series of pages with Cyclops’ (The reader doesn’t know it’s Cyke until two-thirds of the way through the comic though.) voice over narration juxtaposed with Wolverine and Angel skiing, play fighting, and flirting in scenic Vail, Colorado. From Mark Bagley’s facial expressions, it looks like they’re having fun, but inker Andrew Hennessy outlines Angel in all black as he goes through a tree branch making what could be an awkward or silly scene a little on the grim side. However, Hopeless’ quick hitting teen dialogue brings the fun back along with the glorious gold color Nolan Woodard uses for Angel’s wings. But this is just the start of the seesaw effect of All-New X-Men #1 where Beast, Angel, Wolverine, Iceman, Idie, and Genesis are in a Professor X-less issue of Jeff Parker’s X-Men First Class, and Cyclops is trying to bring the teen noir genre back.
But Cyclops isn’t super broody all the time, and his conversation with his classmate Marla shows that there can still be fun and levity at the end of the world as she playfully flirts with him by snapping a pic of him to send to her parents and show that she’s not hanging with the Ghosts of Cyclops. From his time on Ultimate Spider-Man, Bagley has had a knack for showing hopeful, exuberant teenagers, and this skill is on display with Marla and later with Iceman living large as an ice sculptor in tolerant Austin, Texas. But all turns into fisticuffs and discharges of energy before an all too predictable cliffhanger of the other X-Men coming in to pull Cyclops’ hide out of the fire. Hopeless kind of telegraphed this development with the ever helpful plot furthering device of the portable Cerebros, but it will be nice to see the X-Men together after only one issue.
Also, serving only to further the plot are the Ghosts of Cyclops, who are the villains of the first couple issues if not the entire first arc of All-New X-Men. Only one of them gets a name (The groan worthy, dated by 2016 Thirst.), and they basically act as an outside force to get Cyclops back into the mutant superhero game instead of writing philosophical manifestos all day. Their combined numbers force him to abandon his stealthy, research and hand to hand combat strategy to take them down and discharge his optic teams in a burst of scarlet brilliance from Woodard. This moment is epic and worthy of a full page splash from Bagley and some angry dialogue from Hopeless, but the recipients of Cyclops’ wrath are chump change compared to who the X-Men usually fight.
Dennis Hopeless and Mark Bagley struggle to balance fun superhero action and dystopian dread in All-New X-Men #1 going from Iceman making Thing sculptures for tourists to Cyclops almost getting killed by teen mutant terrorists wearing his older self’s mask and visor. Hopefully, the book will pick up, and Idie and Genesis will get more to do once the team is all together. Also, the more the adorable Bamf pilot Pickles appears the better.
All-New X-Men #1
Written by Dennis Hopeless
Pencils by Mark Bagley
Inks by Andrew Hennessy
Colors by Nolan Woodard
Letters by Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics
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