I’m having a strong feeling of dejÃ vu, and it’s with “X-Campus” #1. Originally published by Panini in Europe a few years ago, it’s a re-imagining of the X-Men characters as students in a school run by Magneto, with Professor X and Jean Grey as two of the professors. Essentially, the names and most of the powers are the same, there’s still a school setting, but everything else is different.
The strange thing, of course, is that we just had a licensed X-Men book (“X-Men: Misfits”) over at Del Rey do the same thing in the past year. Apparently licensing the names and basic ideas of the X-Men is the thing to do. Since “X-Men: Misfits” got cancelled before the second volume was published, it looks like Marvel decided to dust off “X-Campus,” translate it into English, and bring it over here for its own purposes.
All that said? It’s all right. Francesco Artibani’s script is perfectly serviceable, and the art from Denis Medri, Roberto Di Salvo, and Marco Failla is an attractive, clean style that brings to mind classic animation. (While the book changes pencillers halfway through the issue, Failla inks over both artists and helps provide some additional consistency, although Medri and Di Salvo are close enough that it wouldn’t have been too great a problem.) But reading the issue, there’s nothing that makes me want to read the second issue.
That’s not entirely fair; I was happy to see Mesmero pop up, one of the X-Men villains that has been underused over the years but that I’ve always been amused by. The idea of Professor X being second fiddle (at least for now) in the school is a good one. But for the most part, the re-imagined characters manage to not be that different, save for somehow ending up less interesting. Artibani forgot to add in new hooks to make us care about them, so instead we just get characters with the same faces but little to none of the interesting things about them.
It’s nice for the creators that they’re getting some English-language exposure for their work, but “X-Campus” just doesn’t have that punch needed to make it rise up above an already expansive sea of other X-Men comics. Right now, I can’t see why people would want to read “X-Campus” with watered down X-Men characters when they can just read the actual titles instead.