“X-Men ’92” #1 is a comic book that revels in the fun and energy that surrounds the nostalgia many have for the Fox animated series. It injects a tongue-in-cheek tone that comes with looking back at the day-glo early 90s and balances the joy that writers Chris Sims and Chad Bowers have for the material with an understanding of the darker tones that underlie any “X-Men” story. Artist Scott Koblish provides energetic pencil art and, though there are some awkward panels and some difficulty maintaining character models, the storytelling is clear and his layouts are delivered cleverly via the Infinite Comic format.
Sims and Bowers have a great sense of humor and a reverence for comics, as evidenced by their independently published books and articles. They work to entertain using a “why not?” approach to the franchise that editor Jordan D. White has shepherded well from his time overseeing “Deadpool.” The story opens with the team training in a lazer tag hut (a turn of phrase that could only exist in a comic book or remake of “Logan’s Run”), which pulls in readers with a throwback style of narration and dialogue. Readers should expect characters that emote out loud in long blocks of speech, exclamation points and narrations that deliver backgrounds and power sets a la Chris Claremont. The writing team knows their way around these characters — there’s a callback to a repeated turn of phrase Claremont often used between Gambit and Logan — and it’s hard not to be entertained by scenes like Wolverine shopping in full costume.
Koblish’s art is reminiscent of Tom Grummett’s time on “X-Men Forever”; the characters aren’t as bulky as they were in the past but are no less expressive. He leans into the soap operatic elements of the series, such as the scene between Professor Xavier and Cyclops. His action scenes are a highlight and thrive under the Infinite Comic banner; the technology is utilized well, with reveal and attack panels layering over one another to create movement and highlight specific characters. Though the comic comes out in print next month, readers with a physical copy will be missing out on a great use of this format.
There are a few wonky spots — Koblish has some trouble with characters remaining consistent, especially Gambit — though the artist has proven that he takes a couple issues to find his groove in his previous work on “Deadpool”. Newer designs for characters don’t quite capture the feel of the characters designs from the era, though there is a hilarious computer in the Xavier mansion that harkens back to the Liefeld era Marvel computers, which were merely a series of colored rectangles awkwardly stacked on one another. None of this is distracting enough to dissuade readers; much of this can be attributed to a really great comic having spots that are merely good.
Overall, “X-Men ’92” #1 is a bold experiment in creating an accessible, recognizable version of one of Marvel’s most storied and successful franchises. Everyone involved seems to be having a blast creating this book and that fun is infectious. The execution of the Infinite Comic format is impressive for a first issue and will hopefully inspire some interesting experimentation as the series progresses. It’s a fun ride being operated by an entertaining crew.