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All-New X-Men #1

ALL-NEW X-MEN #1

Capsule Review

The X-Men books have been among the most reliable titles in this whole Marvel re-launch, and All-New X-Men is right there with the rest, passing muster with a book that doesn’t change your religion, but delivers a couple dozen pages of entertaining mutant funnybook action. The All-New X-Men in this book are the old guys — or the new/old guys — that Brian Michael Bendis brought into Marvel continuity a couple years ago … the original X-Men, from back in the 60s, zapped forward into our time by the Beast because, well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. This lead to multiple versions of Iceman and Cyclops and the rest of the guys running around at the same time, and it was only natural to assume the originals would be returned to their own time when the gimmick expired, but they didn’t and it hasn’t and so we have the new/old gang together again, starring in their second series (by my count), and they’re just as confusing as ever. You either go with these things, or you don’t. Normally I’m a fuddy-duddy about deep-continuity comics but I read the preceding Bendis run last year, and I almost kinda-sorta knew what was going on here … which is basically the continuing adventures of our time-lost heroes settling into the new timestream, if only because going back would seem to doom them to becoming murders/pariahs/purveyors of interstellar genocide. And when you think about it, that makes sense … given the chance to avoid becoming their parents, what kid wouldn’t do it? All of which says precious little about this particular issue, which only peripherally touches on those issues, concentrating instead on establishing the chemistry of the new cast, with the crew on the lookout for a MIA Cyclops who is taking the matter of a criminal Cyclops cargo cult into his own hands. Artist Mark Bagley is good at drawing attractive, youngish-looking heroes, and Dennis Hopeless keeps the dialogue snappier than you’d expect for a book from the doom-and-gloom X-Men line, although I was a bit confused by the way he juxtaposed his voice-over captions. Overall, it works.

Approachability For New Readers

Basically impossible. You have the young/old X-Men teamed with lady Wolverine treating the as-yet unpublished finale of Marvel’s latest Secret Wars like some kind of third rail, so good luck figuring out what the heck is going on. But there are some familiar characters and X-Men books are always a bit of a jumble, so it’s not so different than jumping into the middle of a series from decades past. Of course, a #1 issue might reasonably be held to a higher standard of clarity … but I’m just pissing in the wind complaining about this stuff at this point.

Read #2?

Sure, sooner or later.

Sales Rank

#14 December

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All-New X-Men #1

 

Spider-Woman #1

SPIDER-WOMAN #1

Capsule Review

Writer Dennis Hopeless makes the most of this reboot’s “eight months after” starting point by giving us a Spider-Woman nearly nine-months pregnant, then steadfastly refusing to fill in the details. It works. And it’s fresh — I don’t think I’ve read a book about a super-spy giving up her old life and coming to terms with a pregnancy before. Hopeless keeps it light, but there is some wistful coming-of-age stuff here, with Spider-Woman putting her motorcycle into storage, and training another hero (Porcupine? OK, why not) to take her place. It raises the stakes and makes otherwise-mundane superheroics seem important. I liked how the story lightly chided me for thinking the most important thing about Jessica’s pregnancy was the (unrevealed) identity of the father — Hopeless lets Tony Stark walk into that buzzsaw for us, asking Jessica if she knows who the father is, and we come out the other side remembering that the pregnancy is important all by it’s lonesome. Everything else is just details. Artist Javier Rodriguez is decent at conveying emotion, and takes on a challenging bit of visual storytelling in a single-page shot of a rooftop maternity leave party that works both as a single image, and as time-compressed parallel narrative, with a panel structure of sorts imposed by strings of lights criss-crossing overhead. It’s ambitious and deserves points for trying, even if it makes no sense for Tony Stark to be stomping around the party in his armor. The dialogue has bite and the friendships feel genuine. I liked the many matter-of-fact cameos from other heroes in the Marvel Universe — it reminded a bit of the days when the Fantastic Four were Marvel’s first family, and always had someone dropping by unannounced. I will admit that I don’t much recognize this Spider-Woman from her recent(ish) Avengers appearances under Brian Michael Bendis, but I haven’t kept close tabs on her. Likewise, this version of Ben Urich is a stranger to me. But overall I liked the cast and want to know more.

Approachability For New Readers

Not great — we never see Spider-Woman in action, so there’s no way to understand who she was or what she’s giving up to be a mother. But keeping the audience somewhat in the dark seems core to this series, so everyone will be a little lost by design.

Read #2?

Sure.

Sales Rank

#37 November

Read more about Spider-Man at Longbox Graveyard

Read more capsule reviews of Marvel’s All-New All-Different rolling reboot.

Spider-Woman #1

 

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