While it was a long time coming (as the wheels on the book have been spinning a bit for about five months or so), the debut of the new Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction led direction of the X-Men is now upon us!
Is it good?
To their credit, Brubaker and Fraction are really seeming to try a new approach with this title. The attitudes of the X-Men are so different from what we're used to, mostly because they are actually, for the first time in a long while, HAPPY. Whether they will stay happy will be the point of Brubaker and Fraction's run on the book, but the new status quo certainly is an interesting one - the X-Men have now been accepted by the city of San Francisco, and for the first time in a long time, the X-Men are not being treated like freaks at all. So the X-Men build a big mutant haven in San Fran, and that is where the future conflicts will arise.
It's a good idea, and the issue is filled with good ideas for future stories, but for this one issue, it is not a particularly great story.
The plot revolves around a controversial art exhibit involving Sentinels. While at the exhibit, Magneto shows up and turns the Sentinels on the X-Men. This all turns out to be a big diversion to distract from a plot Magneto has cooked up with the High Evolutionary where Magneto distracts the X-Men while the High Evolutionary collects some sort of data/materials from the Celestial that is sitting in Golden Gate Park (it is a nice touch of continuity by Brubaker and Fraction to work in the Celestial plot from Gaiman's Eternals storyline - I wonder if we'll see any crossovers between the books?).
Brubaker and Fraction take an interesting approach with Magneto. Remember, in some way, due to the events of House of M and the fact that the Scarlet Witch is his daughter, Magneto is perhaps kinda sorta sorta kinda indirectly responsible for the almost extermination of his entire species. For a man whose life has been built around the preservation of that species - this has got to be a devastating blow for him. Remember how freaked out he was when he hurt Kitty Pryde in Uncanny X-Men #150? Well, imagine the guilt he must feel about THIS! It has to be tremendous, and Brubaker and Fraction play upon that guilt well, as Magneto does many things he would not ordinarily do in this issue, just because nothing else matters to him as much as the gambit he and the High Evolutionary have cooked up to hopefully restart the mutant race. So we get a Magneto who SEEMS like a standard villain in the issue, especially with his interactions with Colossus and the Sentinels, but really, what we have is a man consumed with guilt who would do anything, even make himself look like a mockery of his former self, just to help mutantkind (something that he, currently, is not even a member of!).
That was a great idea by Brubaker and Fraction.
However, that was only one part of the issue, and most of the rest of the issue was just exposition for the new mutant status quo and setting up of future plot lines. I like how they used the epilogues of the comic to set up future stories - that makes the comic work really well as a jumping on point, as it establishes all the future stories that readers are hopefully intrigued by (including what's the deal with this Simon guy? What's the deal with the Hellfire Cult? What's the deal with that Guy guy?). It doesn't do much for THIS issue, though.
The artwork, meanwhile, was not great. Greg Land's characters were generally weak, especially the way they changed looks from page to page. The Dodsons, who I am not a huge fan of, were SOOO much better than Land. Still, their art styles are not similar at all, so having them alternate every few pages was pretty jarring. Having the Dodsons do a full issue in the future will be nicer.
Anyhow, for a jumping on point, this was a good issue. Brubaker and Fraction have come up with a good new status quo and their upcoming stories sound intriguing. This issue, by itself, though, did not have enough "meat" on the story, spending more time on set-up (both for the status quo and for future story arcs). And while that may be a necessary evil, it still results in a comic that was only "okay," so one that I would slightly not recommend.
Future issues, though, sound good!