X-MEN: MESSIAH COMPLEX #1 comes out next week. This is the beginning of a new era for X-Men comics, theoretically. I think. It's been a while since I followed the X-books, and I'm afraid that might be showing now.

What Ed Brubaker goes for in this one shot is that sense of dread and building tension. It's an effective way to open up a bigger story: Try to impart upon the readers the epic sense of the story that's about to be told. Make it seem big. Make the tension drift in the air so thick you could cut it with a knife. While it's not as effective as, say, CIVIL WAR #1, I think he accomplishes that goal here. Mutant fans will have lots to speculate over at the end of this issue.

Since House of M, mutant-kind has been on the brink of extinction. Only a scarce few remain with their powers intact, and the search for any new mutants has proved fruitless. Until now. MESSIAH COMPLEX is the story of the first new mutant find, plus the ramifications of that discovery and the power struggles that go with it. Brubaker sets the scene as being both a scramble for discovery and a race to claim political and moral high ground. What's best for mutant-kind? Who can best help a rebirth? Who's acting in their own self interests? Who lives? Who dies? (A few mutants in this issue, for starters.)

Sounds pretty good. I'm afraid if you're not up to date on your X-history, though, you might get a little lost. The X-Men are caught up in a feud between two factions when they reach Mutant Ground Zero, and I couldn't begin to tell you which of the two sides they discover there is good and which is evil. Maybe they're both evil. I don't even know which characters are on which side. I just know the body count is high, the fight is to the finish, and there's a smoky background in every panel to bring about that feeling of dread and foreboding. In short, it's the prototypical mutant crossover spectacular.

The art is by Marc Silvestri. Brubaker's script gets out of the way enough to let Silvestri cram the big visuals into this issue that his much-heralded artwork deserves. There's lots of eye candy for fans of this style, and Silvestri doesn't disappoint. From Wolverine's rippling muscles to the pants on the White Queen which can only be painted on (as there's never a line drawn at the waist, just an ending to the white above her butt) to Angel's dramatic mid-air posing. It's all so wonderfully over-the-top to someone who's been away from it all for a while. Yet, there's a small part of me that wants to be that 16 year old boy again so I can take this all in and enjoy it.

But there's also the 31 year old me who thinks that Frank D'Armata's relentlessly brown and orange coloring scheme will muddy up the whole production when this thing sees print and lose all the details. The PDF preview copy I have looks great. If you like the Top Cow house style. you'll love this. But I fear the coloring will prove its undoing.

I don't think this will be enough to bring me back into the X-fold. I'm curious to see how the story goes to get the mutant population on the rise again -- as I'm sure it will. I'll settle for reading the three paragraph synopsis on the front page of the first book after the storyline is over. But for the die-hards waiting to see how the events of the House of M storyline would be reversed, this is here for you. You'll get the flashy bold art, the grim and gritty storyline, and one character to save them all. Brubaker adds twists as the characters explore the situation that drives the action forward in an interesting way. It's not for everyone, but I think it'll play well to the crowd it's aimed at.

I have, by the way, no inside knowledge of this storyline. I can't tell you for sure that Marvel has any plans to expand out the mutant population again. I'm merely reading the tea leaves and looking at the circles super hero comics have drifted in over the course of my 18 years of reading them. I'd say it's a safe bet, but there's always the chance that this isn't the time just yet.

As any hack reporter would no doubt end this story: Only time will tell...

For those of you coming in late this week, my regular Tuesday column can be found by clicking here.

Next week: Why ruin the surprise? Right now, it looks like I'll be going into the vault for a book or two, though.

The Various and Sundry blog had some tweaking to its layout last week, with some new blackness and an extra menu bar. This last week of updates included another sampling of Twitterisms, some thoughts on soap opera reality, another pic of the week, how Oprah condoned piracy, and your two cents on DVDs that aren't available yet but should be.

Please tell all your friends to stop by for a visit sometime. Pretty please?

Everything else: Twitter, Tumblr Blog, The Pipeline Podcast, ComicSpace, and Google Reader Shared Items.

You can e-mail me your comments on this column, or post them for all the world to see and respond to over on the Pipeline Message Board.

More than 800 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically.

Game of Thrones: Who Will Sit on the Iron Throne

More in CBR Exclusives