The new X-Men title by Brian Wood and Olivier Coipel, which debuted Wednesday, has received a lot of attention for its all-female team. Honestly, when I heard the news, I didn’t find it surprising — in fact, I had to ask myself, “Is this really the first time we’ve had an all-female cast in the X-Men?” As an old-school Chris Claremont X-fan, I guess I’m used to characters like Storm, Rogue and Kitty Pryde having as much prominence on the team as Cyclops, Colossus and … yeah, I was going to put Wolverine there, but he’s always been in a class by himself due to his popularity. But you get where I’m coming from.
There were certainly X-Men stories where the women outnumbered the men during Claremont’s run — I’m thinking of an issue where Wolverine, Shadowcat, Rogue and Rachel Grey, I believe, were on a mission, and Wolverine turned leadership over to Kitty because he didn’t like being leader and she had “seniority” — but I can’t think of a time when they were male-less for a significant period. If someone pops up in our comments section to tell me otherwise, though, I won’t be surprised, because the X-franchise just seems like the natural place where this would happen. It’s notable that just about every one of the main characters in the book were co-created by Claremont, the only exception being Storm, who was actually created by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum. But Claremont obviously put his stamp on the character in his long run on Uncanny X-Men.
But yeah, a female X-team? It’s been a long time coming, if indeed it has never occurred. But enough about the make-up of the team; how was the book itself? Here are a few opinions on the first issue from around the internet, and you can check out the CBR poll to see that almost half of respondents gave it five out of five stars:
Martin Gray, Too Dangerous for a Girl: “Wood’s script is uniformly excellent, giving us a sharp third person narration that introduces the X-Men and their world for any new readers. It’s professionalism with style, and I wish more comic book writers were so considerate of the readership. He’s equally adept at writing the heroes, as individuals and as members of the school faculty. And his handling of teamwork is a joy, as Rogue, Storm and Kitty stop a runaway train from killing its passengers. Plus, Wood gives us a subplot involving what’s bound to be more than simple teenage rivalry. As he says in the lettercol, this is his highest profile launch to date, and on this showing he’s well up to it.”
Greg Burgas, Comics Should Be Good!: “Technically, this is a perfectly fine first issue. The pacing is fine, nothing drags, and Wood uses a fairly standard template to make sure he gets everything in that he wants to, including the Mercury/Bling subplot. Coipel is a pretty standard superhero artist, so everything looks nice and non-threatening – it’s unremarkable art, sure, but it gets the job done (although I’m not sure about Psylocke’s pose when she’s on the roof – is that weird, or is it me?). There’s nothing really wrong with the issue.
“But … there’s not anything that’s really, for lack of a better word, right about it, either. It’s bland. There’s nothing that says ‘This is a Brian Wood comic,’ which is – in my humblest opinion – really the only reason to read superhero comics these days – to read what individual voices have to say about the characters.”
Vince Ostrowski, Multiversity Comics: “There’s a lot of talk about comics becoming cinematic. Whether that’s generated from an idea that superhero comics in the modern age tend to unfold in big, sprawling action panels or the idea that something on the pages could be something that would easily translate into a viable story for the silver screen, the fact is that the idea of a comic being “cinematic” can easily create an image in the mind’s eye. “X-Men” #1 has a train-centric action set-piece at its center that is so spectacular and yet so utterly practical in concept that it would make for a highly thrilling film sequence. Yes, this is a comic, but the point is that it’s an impressive feat when a sequence so effortlessly accomplishes something in a static medium that you could immediately see captivating a general audience in a motion picture. That’s a mark of synergy between writer and artist that is special.” (9.6/10)
Don MacPherson, Eye on Comics: “There’s a lot to like about Coipel’s artwork here. I enjoy his lithe, slender figures. The women aren’t overly buxom, and the younger girls actually look like… well, younger girls. I like the confident, punk Storm and the grim look he brings to Psylocke. But here’s the truth of the matter when it comes to the art: I don’t know what’s going on. The opening scene — featuring Jubilee and the baby making their way through an airport and onto a plane, as an impossibly handsome guy follows them — is quite confusing. At first, I thought Mr. Machismo was Jubilee, somehow disguised with a holographic device or something. We never really see him following her; they’re never both in the same panel in the airport and airplane sequences. It’s only a few pages later when the script clears up the pursuit that I got what was meant to be conveyed in the artwork. We’re also told there’s a critical moment when one train is barreling toward another, but it’s not clearly demonstrated in the visuals.” (3/10)
Brandon Borzelli, Geek Goggle Reviews: “Coipel’s art is fantastic. The artwork is detailed but gets away from the curvy female look we so commonly see in super hero books. Instead the art looks like people in ordinary life might look in terms of their anatomy. There is some action and the artwork hits some high and low notes making for a mix. I wasn’t thrilled with the train ride depiction as I found too much to be missing in the panel transitions. Overall, it’s a beautiful book.” (3.5/5)
Kelly Thompson, Comic Book Resources: “All in all, Wood and Coipel have delivered the definitive superhero relaunch with “X-Men” #1. Teeming with powerful, fascinating characters, enticing action, a smart villain, high stakes and stunning visuals, X-Men #1 is on the short list for best superhero book of the year, and in a year full of strong contenders, that is no small thing.” (5/5)