I was forewarned about Grant Morrison’s New X-Men going into Book 1. Considered to be the start of the modern era for Marvel’s mutant team, he many of the things that have defined the X-Men up to that point and unceremoniously kicks them to the curb, from the old uniforms, old perspectives, and much more. For some, this was a kick in the pants that the franchise sorely needed. For others, this dramatic departure from the status quo was the worst.
Where do I stand when it comes to the most divisive run in X-Men history? Only having read the first book, it’s too early for me to pass judgment on the series as a whole. Having said that, I think this first book is great.
Within the first book, Grant Morrison puts this thin roster through the ringer. A new villain makes their debut and their first order of business is to successfully commit mass human genocide on the mutant race. Before they get a chance to cope with the loss or close the book on that case, they’re off to China to investigate some disturbing reports of humans augmenting themselves with mutant body parts to become super humans. The themes in play and the way in which they’re handled are notably heavier than anything I’ve read from the X-Men before. I like how dark the conversations can get, even during humourous moments. Also, when the stories take a dramatic turn, they hit like a punch to the gut.
I adore Grant Morrison’s writing throughout, but my opinions on the art aren’t as glowing. To its credit, the art direction in this book is as distinct as the writing, but I generally don’t like the look. Jean Grey and Emma Frost in particular look really off and the latter’s outfits are excessively ridiculous, even by Emma Frost standards. I probably would have enjoyed it more had a different look, but it never hurt my experience as I was reading. In fact, there are parts of this book that look awesome.
New X-Men Book 1 is a bold first step towards uncharted territory for the franchise that I really appreciate. This was a really fun book to read filled with gritty stories, interesting characterization and brilliant high notes. If this is a sign of things to come, then I won’t need much in the way of nudging to get to the next one.