Marvel’s mutant refresh, the ResurrXion initiative, hits the eight-week mark and, with it, our first look at a younger batch of X-Men hopefuls. Surprisingly, however, we’re not getting another New Mutants book, but a new volume of that other teenage mutant title. Christina Strain and Amilcar Pinna debut Generation X #1 this week, and it’s more angst-riddled than ever. Jubilee is back, this time as a mentor, for a team of wonderfully goofy mutants, none of whom seem to have the slightest concern about one day saving the world, much less upholding Professor Xavier’s dream of mutant-human harmony.
Strain started her comic book career as a colorist, most notably on another Marvel book of young, powered misfits, Brian K. Vaughan’s Runaways. She has since been honing her writing chops on a SyFy television series, and makes her return to comics by walking us into the new Xavier Institute, in classic welcome-hope-you-survive fashion.
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We’re in week 7 of Marvel’s ResurreXion initiative, the mutant and Inhuman refresh that rose from the ashes of the IvX clash. And while the X-books are enjoying some well-deserved attention, they still are basically left to operate in their own arena, while the Inhumans, as the latest property darling of Marvel Studios, continue to be shoehorned into every event and cross-title storyline they can. Case in point: the new Secret Warriors book by Matthew Rosenberg and Javier Garrón. Directly connected to the Secret Empire event, Daisy Johnson, AKA Quake, rallies a team of fellow Inhumans to oppose the Hydra takeover and occupation.
As Rosenberg will admit in his afterword to issue #1, he’s a relative newcomer to comic book writing, with even less experience working in the superhero genre. But he, like many of us, grew up with Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Captain America, and all the rest of those wonderful larger-than-life members of the Mighty Marvel pantheon. His reverence shows; his enthusiasm is obvious. And fresh off the Rocket Raccoon and Kingpin series in Marvel’s recent NOW! relaunch, not to mention the outstanding 4 Kids Walk into a Bank for Black Mask, Rosenberg has pulled together a very intriguing roster for his first full-on foray into capes-n-tights team books.
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Both Marvel and DC have engaged a number of prominent novelists and screenwriters over the last few years, giving these writers their first opportunity to pilot a monthly comic book series. Invariably, every one of them opens a press conference or interview with the same caveat: I don’t know what I’m doing, but I love comics and I love these characters. It’s been hit or miss for the most part; comics is its own storytelling medium, and it often takes time for a writer to ably adapt his or her voice to accommodate the differences. But once in a great while, an author really figures things out. No growing pains, no collaboration difficulties, and no real sense of inexperience. A year ago, Ta-Nehisi Coates took the reins of a heralded Black Panther relaunch and delivered one of the best superhero comics on the shelf. But he hasn’t stopped there: there’s an entire corner of the Marvel Universe that has expanded and thrived under his direction. First with a further exploration of Panther‘s supporting cast members and Wakandan folklore in World of Wakanda, and now, this week, Coates flexes his muscles beyond the homeland in Black Panther & The Crew #1.
Inspired by the orignal “Crew” story from Christopher Priest’s Panther run, Coates has partnered with Yona Harvey (another esteemed writer from a different medium quickly proving her mettle in the comics biz) and veteran artist Butch Guice to showcase street-level superheroics in a very different jungle: New York City.
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Edit, 4/10: This isn’t how Marvel Comics should be making the news. After all the outstanding progress and forward thinking that has become a hallmark of the company’s titles in the last few years – a number of all-female creative teams, that totally Asian Totally Awesome Hulk, Kamala Khan,
America fer crying out loud – this controversy is a major setback. And to have it take place in a relaunch of the X-Men of all things, a comic that has, for generations, stood for abolishing bigotry and promoting acceptance, is particularly disappointing. Hopefully we’ve seen the last of Marvel’s –
or any comic book publisher’s – relationship with this particular artist.
As promised, Marc Guggenheim is going back to basics in X-Men: Gold #1, the first new ongoing X-book in Marvel’s ResurrXion initiative. Following the events of Inhumans vs. X-Men, and, really, all the second-rate treatment given to mutants not named Deadpool over the last few years, this new team with a classic feel is just what the comics world needs right now. Kitty Pryde is back, leading a group comprised of Colossus, Storm, Rachel Grey (Prestige), Old Man Logan, and Nightcrawler. And it’s not just the team’s composition that hearkens back to the Claremont/Cockrum/Byrne glory days. This is the first X-launch in years that feels like those great stories so many of us grew up with. No disrespect to Lee & Kirby, but the X-Men – as a series and as an institution – didn’t reach their full potential until that first reset in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
The comic opens, appropriately, with a supervillain bout, wherein this team gets a chance to showcase its battle-tested dynamic. Also, a little reminder that Kitty Pryde, codename or not, is a legitimate badass. And then the battle segues quickly into an all-too familiar statement. What makes the X-Men heroes – perhaps even more heroic than any assemblage of Avengers or Justice Leaguers – is that these mutants have forever worked to protect and save a society that hates and fears them. It’s the enduring X-Men theme; in Guggenheim’s hands the selflessness and courage still seems fresh.
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Marvel’s X-event this month seems to be about a lot more than a refresh on their stable of mutant books. Developing out of the ashes of Inhumans vs. X-Men, ResurrXion looks to not only provide a new publishing initiative for mutant and Inhuman books, but also to re-establish the X-Men as one of the preeminent Marvel properties. For three solid decades, beginning in the 80’s, the X-Men were arguably the most popular characters in Marvel’s catalog. But with the success of Marvel Studios, and accompanying company mandates to focus on characters developed in the Marvel-controlled MCU, the treatment of the X-books, and mutants themselves, seemed to mirror the fictional resentment and discrimination that had been a hallmark theme of mutant storylines for so many years.
Despite understanding Marvel’s inclination to increase exposure for their Marvel Studios characters, when the All-New All-Different era kicked off in 2015, we were still nonetheless a little taken aback. The Inhumans were figuratively (and somewhat literally) killing off and replacing the mutants. It was happening in the comics, and it was happening on the comic book shelves. But after force-feeding us too many unsatisfying and underdeveloped “nuHuman” characters, Marvel seemingly saw the light. Extinction averted, IvX behind us, and we’ve got a spate of new X-related releases in the coming weeks, including an exciting team series that promises to go “Back to Basics.”
But that doesn’t mean the Inhumans have been passed over; part of this ResurrXion rightly belongs to them, and a return to form works both ways. In the first of two intro issues this week, Inhumans Prime brings the focus back on the Inhuman royal family, and sets the stage for some glorious cosmic adventure.
Continue reading ResurrXion: Inhumans Prime