As the world of Age of X-Man unfolds across Marvel's mutant universe, I find myself becoming more and more enchanted by it. From Age of X-Man: Alpha to The Marvelous X-Men, there has been a consistent through line that many crossover and/or rebranding events often lose. Even a celebrated event like Age of Apocalypse, which is basically the antithesis to this series, has a few weak links in its chain. But Age of X-Man has yet to show any real wear and tear. Given, we're only a handful of issues in, so there's still plenty of time for things to falter, but so far, so good.
Age of X-Man: NextGen #1 continues the streak of goodwill by dipping into the smaller corners of this brave new world. To be more specific, NextGen focuses the kids who would have been the starting roster for the X-Men had they not been spirited away to the mirror reality of Age of X-Men. Pixie, Anole, Rockslide and Armor all get time to shine, but the one character who is ostensibly our protagonist this issue is Glob Herman. In fact, you could almost boil this issue down to a "Day in the Life of Glob" comic, if it weren't for whatever larger conspiracy is at play in the peripherals of this entire event.
In a broader sense, NextGen #1 is a look at the Summers Institute for Higher Learning and how the students and faculty of the school function day to day. Things are mostly familiar. Kids bicker during lunch. X-Men team members pop in to conduct lectures. The hopes and desires to play in the big leagues (so to speak) are expressed. It's all very basic X-Men stuff, but the aesthetic is genuinely odd -- and I don't mean Marcus To's artwork (which is as great as it always is). The details and visual cues on the page are somehow, deliberately, off. Unlike the Xavier School from the reality where Cyclops and Wolverine have been resurrected, the Summers Institute is cold and uniform. The building is angular and modern, feeling more akin to Stark Tower than it does a country mansion in rural New York. The student body is dressed in costumes, not school uniforms, but costumes, as if they are ready to fight a fleet of invading Sentinels while in the middle of an Economics class.
This comic doesn't have a standout narrative to really elevate it over the other Age of X-Man titles thus far, but it does help add to the lore of this world. Ed Brisson is a writer who has been causing trouble in the X-Men Universe for the last few years and feels right at home when working with these characters. The dialogue can meander from time to time, but overall, Age of X-Man: NextGen #1 is a breezy read with some great character moments.
Marcus To and colorist Jason Keith render the world, and all it's weirdness, wonderfully. The visuals won't exactly cause a lot of heads to turn since they seem in line, aesthetically-speaking, with the other titles under the Age of X-Man banner, but you can appreciate the consistency despite the different artists on the book. In fact, if this event ever comes to an omnibus format, it will be much easier to digest from a visual standpoint than Age of Apocalypse ever was.
In fact, the only problem with this issue is the promise the cover made in the form of Chris Bachalo's artwork. When I saw this cover, I was whisked away to my younger years, collecting issues of Generation X and eventually his AoA contribution Generation NeXt. Again, I really dig To's work in a big bad way, by I was excited to see Bachalo return to these characters, especially on an X-book with "Gen" in the title. Again, this is me and my own personal hangup, and wasn't enough to lessen my enjoyment of Age of X-Man: NextGen #1. Then again, the world this event continues to present is so confounding and intriguing, it's hard to say what would.