“X-Men: First Class” is one of those comics that’s been on my “take a look” list for a while, now. It’s always looked like a fun comic, and with creators like Jeff Parker and Colleen Coover on board, it seemed worth my time. Happily, that’s just what I found.
The basic conceit — stories set during the original X-Men team’s time — is a simple enough one. So far as I can tell, there’s no strict adherence to continuity questions or worrying exactly how stories would fall between old issues of “X-Men.” That suits me just fine. So if, for instance, Parker wants to have Angel at least temporarily quit the team and get replaced by a Machine Man prototype, why not?
The story of the team encountering Lava Men around Mount St. Helens is a little slight, just another typical story of characters encountering monsters that aren’t easily defeated. Where it did work for me, though, was in a lot of the little character touches. I liked Hank’s attempts to communicate with the Lava Men, or Jean’s wry, “Ok, now we know we’re doomed” comment after hearing about the technical difficulties plaguing the team. It’s Parker’s ease and skill with the main characters that makes me want to read more of “X-Men: First Class” above all else. And while the conclusion to the story felt a little rushed, especially in relation to Machine Man’s status with the rest of the team, it was good enough that I was happy at the end of the day.
Roger Cruz’s art is at its strongest in how he draws the characters looking like teenagers. So often the early X-Men are drawn as adults even when they aren’t supposed to be, and this is one of the few times that I’ve really gotten the impression that someone has remembered that they’re actually a bit younger. When Jean shyly hands Doctor Stack what she was able to bring back from their encounter with the Lava Men, she looks just about perfect. I do have to say, though, that Cruz also draws some of the skinniest super-heroes I’ve seen in a long while. I suppose Professor X was an early shareholder in Slim-Fast.
“X-Men: First Class” didn’t tell a story that I’ll be thinking about for months to come, but it was entertaining enough that I’ll certainly pick up future issues. Add in back-up stories drawn by Coover, and I just get that much more excited; her cute, delicate drawings of the X-Men are a real treat. In the end, it’s just fun, and I’m good with that.