Although “Age of X” is currently treading a little too close to being a rehash of the much-celebrated “Age of Apocalypse” storyline, Mike Carey is a good enough writer that it’s easy not to get too worried about where it’s going. Case in point: this issue sets up a few interesting mysteries regarding the “Age of X” universe, and how what we see doesn’t quite fit with what we’re being told. And after-all, dystopian alternate universes have been an X-Men tradition ever since “Days of Future Past.” It’d almost be a shock if we didn’t get one from a writer with Carey’s staying power on the series.
With Zeb Wells’ tenure on the title over, Mike Carey is writing “New Mutants” for the duration of “Age of X,” and doesn’t worry too much about spotlighting the New Mutants characters. That said, Cannonball already has a reasonably prominent role in the “Age of X” canon, and the issue’s final page does suggest that the New Mutants characters will soon be far more important to the story than they have been so far.
Even so, the bulk of this issue is focused on Rogue as she breaks into Danger’s prison so that she can have a chat with Shadowcat. If you’re a New Mutants fan, you might not be so pleased about that, but as someone following both titles, I’m more glad to see that Carey is telling a solid story on his own terms, rather than lurching the books back and forth, “Messiah Complex”/”Second Coming”-style.
Despite the intrigue Carey has created, there are a few things that prevent it from being an outstanding book, however, many of them art-related. Steve Kurth’s layouts and environments are great, but his faces look heavily photo-referenced, and thus often appear soulless, lacking the nuance and emotion that great artists bring to their storytelling. There’s much to like about Kurth’s work, but Carey appears to be writing for a much stronger artist than he ended up with. Oftentimes, background characters (and even prominent ones) are unrecognizable where the text appears to want us to recognize them. It’s not perfect, and some of the blame there has to reside with Kurth.
Despite that stumble, Carey and Kurth have managed to create a compelling chapter for
“Age of X,” and the situations and relationships are interesting. Cyclops and Frenzy make for an interesting pair (though let’s all hope for no more alternate-universe Summers characters) and seeing Rogue/Legacy as “Age of X”‘s de facto lead is fantastic if, like me, you’re a big fan of her. I don’t know where it’s going, but a strong pair of opening issues means that I’m looking forward to finding out.