I haven’t been a huge fan of Marvel’s “Point One” issues for the simple fact that they haven’t worked very well as entry points to complicated books, which is their entire purpose. However, with “Ultimate Comics X-Men” #18.1 Brian Wood and Filipe Andrade create an excellent opportunity for new readers to jump onto the series and world.
Since he took over the title, Brian Wood has done interesting things with the mutant war story started by Nick Spencer. Wood has spent his time getting the core team out of New York and onto the frontlines in the southwest, made Kitty into a serious rebel leader and built some intriguing personal relationships all while escalating the war. The result is characters and a central conflict I’m invested in, so it’s with surprise that Wood turns all of that on its ear and makes what’s coming even more compelling.
With the war quite suddenly over, our heroes find themselves with a handful of options (none of them terribly appealing). Take the government cure, become “human” and reintegrate yourself into society, or take a plot of land (i.e. reservation) and build your own nation. With these options, Wood sets up intriguing parallels to other populations that have been victims of genocide and disenfranchisement throughout the years. I’m wildly curious to see where he can take this. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a writer treat the X-Men (in any form) as true outcasts and victims of society, rather than wealthy glorified superstars perhaps as idolized as they are feared. It’s an unexpected turn full of potential.
I think the biggest stumbling block for this issue being new reader friendly is that while Andrade’s work is intriguing, he’s simply not the regular artist. As a result I find myself hoping potential new readers turned off by Andrade’s atypical style will come back and try again, and I hope that new readers that love his atypical style won’t be turned off when they come back and find Andrade no longer present. A “Point One” issue seems like a very odd place to put a guest penciller.
Although Andrade’s loose highly stylized work grew on me as I read, I was initially a bit thrown. His figures are almost painfully slender and his characters have incredibly wide set eyes making them all look a bit the same (and much more prey than predator). That said, his storytelling is nice, his acting work is strong and he’s consistent in his style throughout, which is a big sticking point for me as a reader. I could really get into a book drawn by Andrade, but I suspect it’s not a style that works for most traditional superhero readers and I hope it doesn’t throw off those interested.
Brian Wood writing X-Men (of any sort) is a real treat for readers. I urge anyone interested in smart stories and gorgeous contrasts of the epic and personal to check out what he’s doing with “Ultimate Comics X-Men.” The future is sure to be fascinating.