Age of X-Man Round-Up: Life is not as marvelous as it seems

By Allison Senecal —  I’ve been *dramatic wheeze* deathly ill this week, so y’all are about to get what is likely a very buzzword-heavy Age of X-Man round-up this month. There are twice as many issues to cover in this one too, so brevity is key. All but one of the event’s miniseries have now launched, and we have a lot of great set-up (great, folks) but no deeper action happening just yet. Uncanny X-Men, on the other hand, is rolling along, already getting meaty. Hope everyone stuck with it after the first over-sized issue following Disassembled, because this run is quickly looking like a winner.

As a refresher: these monthly round-ups serve as both reviews and as actual honest-to-god recaps! So you, yes you, don’t have to read absolutely everything if you don’t want to, or maybe you’ll just be titillated enough to try a new series. Either way.

Lights! Camera! Glob!

Previously on Age of X-Man

Age of X-Man: NextGen #1
Ed Brisson
Artist: Marcus To
Colorist: Jason Keith
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Released: 2/13/2019
Key Characters: Glob, Anole, Pixie, Armor, Shark Girl, Rockslide

The crux of it? Glob gets bullied for writing X-Men fan fiction, and readers will instantly get the feeling that he remembers more about the pre-AOXM world than he lets on. The young mutants’ study session is interrupted by a house fire, which they rush to fight. Armor catches Blob mind-wiping Bling, who was seemingly attending a revolutionaries’ meeting at the house with Anole, who tells Armor not to tell anyone he was there. The issues ends with Armor confronting Glob with what she’s witnessed and him assaulting her, shouting “This is the only way I can show you the truth.”

The team here gives us a really great world-building first issue. I find “classroom world-building” a little lazy in prose, but it works better in comics, and even more so here. Some teacher narration guides us from major to major so we get a good feel for the ways in which the Summers Institute readies students for the “real world”. In typical first issue fashion for these minis, the utopian setting is normalized before its layers are pulled back, revealing that &%$# just isn’t quite right.

Age of X-Man: Amazing Nightcrawler #1
Seanan McGuire
Artist: Juan Frigeri
Colorist: Dono Sánchez-Almara
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Released: 2/20/2019
Key Characters: Nightcrawler, Meggan, Stepford Cuckoos, Magma

The opener here is an action scene from one of Nightcrawler’s horror flicks (in this reality, he’s the world’s most famous actor), which ends with him and leading lady Meggan popping a power dampener onto the film’s antagonist and having her whisked away for reeducation (eek!). Normal behind-the-scenes hijinks ensue, with brief appearances from Kurt’s trainer, Magma, and agents, the Cuckoos. Kurt and Meggan attend a charity dinner where some folks are overheard disparaging the Cuckoos for showing off their family ties. After the dinner, Meggan kisses Kurt and they retire together. *eyebrow waggle*

Same as the other AOXM #1’s, we get a typical day-in-the-life setup, this time with a Hollywood flair. Some unsettling bits are tossed in to make us whisper-scream “what the…” and we’re left with a good hook for the next issue. McGuire is a great writer choice for Kurt, and the art team is spot-on for the needed Hollywood sleekness. I love the designs for Magma and the Cuckoos. Super sharp.

Age of X-Man: X-Tremists #1
Leah Williams
Penciler: Georges Jeanty
Inker: Roberto Poggi
Colorist: Jim Charalampidis
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Released: 2/27/2019
Key Characters: Psylocke, Jubilee, Northstar, Iceman, Blob, Moneta (new character)

This mini has been pitched heavily (by both fans and Williams, bless) as “horny utopia cops” and that’s….yeah. We open on a scene of frivolous normalcy, with Bobby and Jubilee trying to bake “thank you” cookies for the X-Men.  Sexy Blob interrupts everyone to deliver their newest mission, a couple on their third violation of the guiding principles. Grumpy Team Dad Northstar waits in the Vanagon and reads. After a chase and struggle, the couple is iced (thanks, Bobby!) but not before the woman lets slip that she’s pregnant. Oh no! What’re a few horny, and seemingly moral, cops to do?

I have to think this set-up is purposely at odds with their fairly militaristic guest appearances in Alpha and Nextgen. I guess if you’re gonna write about Age of X-Man’s cops, you gotta make them likeable. The main “oh no” factor here is the presence of weird little slur-slinging neo-Nazi Moneta, a mutant to whom we’re just being fully introduced, but want to know more about. Come for Rahzzah’s sexy redesigns, stay for Williams’ deft dialogue skills, including heavy-handed-humor-because-AVOIDANCE Bobby.

Age of X-Man: Prisoner X #1
Vita Ayala
Artist: German Peralta
Colorist: Mike Spicer
Letterer: VC’S Joe Sabino
Released: 3/6/2019
Key Characters: Bishop, Beast, Forge, Polaris, Honey Badger, Dani Moonstar

Following the events from Age of X-Man Alpha, Bishop finds himself in mutant utopia...prison! It’s called the Danger Room, because of course it is, and Forge is the warden, because of course he is. Throughout the issue Bishop is plagued by visions of the real world, and via a series of (mostly nasty) interactions with fellow inmates, he comes to find out that Polaris is as well. Jacked up Beast makes several unfriendly appearances, getting upset with Bishop because he won’t leave Gabby (under his protection) alone. Gabby is a little &$#% in this universe and I still love her so much. After Beast attacks Bishop, the prison is put on lockdown, with prisoners confined to their cells, and Bishop receives a note. The dream is REAL. The reality FALSE. Get out!

It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Ayala and Peralta (and now Spicer coloring him!) and this was my most anticipated mini going into AOXM. It doesn’t disappoint, even if this is largely another set-up issue in the vein of the other #1’s. If you weren’t familiar with Bishop pre-AOXM, after the events of Alpha and this issue, you’re at least by now rooting for him thanks to the groundwork laid by these creative teams. Of the miniseries so far, I think Bishop makes for the most straightforwardly compelling protagonist. Guess we’ll see how he fares!

Meanwhile on Uncanny X-Men

Uncanny X-Men #12 & #13
Matthew Rosenberg
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg & Guru-eFX
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Released: 2/20/2019 & 3/6/2019
Key Characters: Magik, Dani Moonstar, Karma, Wolfsbane, Havok, Cyclops, Wolverine, Multiple Man, Strong Guy

Phew. Ok. #12 starts with Scott and Logan breaking into a O.N.E. (remember Colonel Callahan from Dead Souls and Astonishing?) facility. Of course, it goes sideways immediately and they end up fighting some new-fangled Sentinels, which turn out to have *gasp* some of the Transmode-infected New Mutants powering them. Looks like O.N.E have been experimenting on mutants this whole time. The now bolstered team heads inside to free Magik, Wolfsbane, and some Multiple Man dupes, and it’s revealed that Havok’s been used as an energy source for the whole facility since we’ve seen him last. He’s freed but one of the dupes explodes, and Strong Guy seemingly dies while shielding some of his teammates from the blast. After Cyclops stops her from taking revenge, Magik portals them all to safety.

In issue #13 we find out the X-Men are now operating out of the back of a bar owned by one of Logan’s mutant-friendly acquaintances. Cyclops presents the newly formed team with a list of targets, problems he wants to clear up to remind the world what the X-Men are all about. First target? Dark Beast. At his purported location the team instead finds an army of cyborg Multiple Man dupes, and the real Jamie Madrox who absorbs a dying dupe to find out Dark Beast’s actual location. The team tracks him down, a fight ensues (Magik quickly ends it), and they capture him. Back at their hideout, they catch footage of the Mutant Liberation Front on a tv… *ominous music*

I just really love that this series is keeping the action moving while still giving us fantastic character work. Old-school Scott and Logan bickering. Summers brothers emotions. Great carryover from New Mutants: Dead Souls on Illyana and her struggles with being what she sees as a competent team leader. We also see Strong Guy’s redemption arc from previous X-series (most recently Dead Souls) come to a (again, seeming) close with his sacrifice in #12. The scene there between him and Illyana is heartbreaking. I do hope we get more from the other New Mutants in coming issues and they don’t just get lost on the sidelines, but no other real complaints from me on this run. Even Larroca’s art isn’t losing me!

Next Time on Age of X-Man

Age of X-Man: Marvelous X-Men #2
Release Date:
How do you deal with a problem like.... peaceful Apocalypse?

Age of X-Man: Apocalypse & the X-Tracts #1
Release Date:
Let’s get this show on the road!

Age of X-Man: NextGen #2
Release Date:
What did Blob do to Armor?? Is Anole ok? Will the teachers find out some of the students share a secret?

Age of X-Man: Amazing Nightcrawler #2
Release Date:
Will Kurt and Meggan be found-out? Will the Cuckoos be ok?

Age of X-Men: X-Tremists #2
Release Date:
What will our squad of friendly neighborhood watchmen decide to do with a pregnant mutant?

Check out last month’s inaugural Age of X-Man Round-Up here!

Allison buys books professionally and comics unprofessionally. You can find her chaotic neutral Twitter feed at @maliciousglee.