By Allison Senecal — Rude of Marvel to announce the Hickman Era of X-Men before Age of X-Man even hits its climax. But I still believe most of these creative teams have something interesting to say with their series, so I’m hanging in there, but it has taken the wind out of X-Man’s sails a bit. We’re officially over the hump though, and May should be real exciting.
I haven’t addressed this before, but at this point I can reasonably say that all of these series should read fine on their own in trade once this is over. If a bigger event isn’t your thing, maybe a little AU side-trip to a slice of Nate Grey Heaven will be.
Previously on Age of X-Man
Age of X-Man: Apocalypse and the X-Tracts #2
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Salva Espin
Colorist: Israel Silva
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Key Characters: Apocalypse, Omega Red, Kitty Pryde, Eye-Boy, Dazzler, Genesis
This second issue opens on a flashback to Apocalypse rescuing Kitty from a rehabilitation center and stealing Genesis from a hatchery. Fast forward to Kitty and Apocalypse praying for the rest of the team, who are in Kazakhstan searching for signs of Omega Red. Instead, they run into a villainous group of Soviet mutants led by the Siberian. Eye-Boy fires off a few rounds of rubber bullets, seemingly incapacitating them, but the Siberian freezes his hands, which shatter and fall off. The team flees, and once they stop to regroup, Eye-Boy is able to see their pursuers have been killed by Omega Red, who leaves them an ominous note.
I don’t know, man. This series is still charming me with its absolutely off-the-wall concepts and character re-imaginings, even though I think it’s the weakest of the bunch, both overall and art-wise. This alternate Apocalypse is so chilling just because we know this reality will come crashing down sooner rather than later. I do really love this take on Eye-Boy, as absolutely bonkers as it is.
Age of X-Man: Marvelous X-Men #3
Writers: Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler
Artist: Marco Failla
Colorist: Matt Milla
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Key Characters: Magneto, Storm, X-Man, X-23, Nature Girl, Nightcrawler, Colossus
Somewhere in the Bahamas, the X-Men respond to a superstorm, doing damage control while Storm tames the storm itself. The team argues once more over how to handle the X-tracts, as a broadcast from Apocalypse plays in the background. Nate monologues from orbit. Ororo confronts Erik about his visions from the previous issue and creates a storm in which they can privately speak. They discuss how their memories and reality seem to be shifting, and they argue over the best way forward before Nate interrupts them. He leads them to an area of volcanic activity where they are confronted with more unprompted visions, this time of the Phoenix Force and Cyclops killing X. Storm and Magneto angrily question Nate, who tells them they weren’t meant to see this and wipes their minds.
Marvelous is the safest of the Age of X-Man series, but also the one that propels the main event narrative the most, and it feels like it’s spinning its tires a bit in this issue. I love seeing Magneto and Storm’s conversation, but we’ve already witnessed Nate mind-wiping other members of the team who have pushed back. I’m hoping the next issue blows things wide open.
Age of X-Man: Amazing Nightcrawler #3
Writer: Seanan McGuire
Artist: Juan Frigeri
Colorist: Dono Sánchez-Almara
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Key Characters: Nightcrawler, Meggan, Stepford Cuckoos, Mystique, Magma
We pick up where we left off in the last issue. Mystique and Nightcrawler tussle, but she escapes, leaving behind a file folder with information about a mutant child, Tenia Jean, who looks just like Kurt. Kurt attends a personal training session and apologizes to Meggan about abandoning her at the club the previous night. She talks him through whether he should track down this mutant child, and he decides he can’t just do nothing after learning that she’s out there. Kurt has the Cuckoos schedule a mall tour as a cover for finding Tenia, but the event is interrupted by an angry Lady Mastermind and her entourage.
Amazing Nightcrawler remains the most disconnected series of the event, but this book will probably read better later because of that. Frigeri and Sánchez-Almara are doing some really fun work here. McGuire keeps ratcheting up the tension, too. I’m basically now just waiting for the other shoe to finally drop.
Age of X-Man: NextGen #3
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Marcus To
Colorist: Jason Keith
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Key Characters: Glob, Armor, Anole, Pixie, Shark Girl, Rockslide, Angel
The students catch up over lunch, and Pixie is suspicious of Armor’s new haircut. Armor and Glob follow Anole out and confront him about the house fire and run-in with Department X, but they are interrupted by Dean Angel. Rockslide continues digging into the missing Life Seed information as Sunfire lectures a class on the dangers of Unveil, the drug we’ve seen Anole using. Pixie becomes even more suspicious that Armor is an Unveil addict. Rockslide goes to Glob with his worries about their reality and Glob reveals the truth to him, while Pixie confronts Armor who then confronts Anole about his recent behavior. Pixie finds the two of them alone and jumps to the conclusion that they’re involved and using Unveil together. Armor knocks her out. The issue ends with Dean Angel finding the Anole-vandalized school bulletin board and casting a suspicious look around the hallway.
Brisson is writing a really fun, really tropey high school dramedy, and I’m not sure if it’s all 100 percent intentional, but it works for me. The absolute over-the-top Pixie fixation on believing Armor is using drugs because she got a haircut is just A-plus. I love it. Add the slightly ominous teachers and this could be the bones of a CW X-Men show. I’m also just garbage for Marcus To’s Angel, so there’s that. The real truth. He and Jason Keith remain an ideal team for an X-Kids book.
Age of X-Man: X-Tremists #3
Writer: Leah Williams
Penciler: Georges Jeanty
Inker: Roberto Poggi
Colorist: Jim Charalampidis
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Key Characters: Psylocke, Northstar, Jubilee, Iceman, Blob, Moneta
This picks up where #2 left off, with Betsy confronting Fred about his attraction to her. She leaves and we move to the next Department X work day. There are obviously still things left unsaid between the Fred and Betsy, but the day progresses normally, with the team performing a memory extraction on a mutant. Later, Moneta accuses Betsy of not performing the wipe and working with the Resistance, but Fred talks her down. That night Betsy checks in on Fred and they end up having a heart-to-heart over some of his favorite classic books. The next day Moneta leads them to a Resistance hideout. After they soundly beat the untrained mutants, Fred fires her from the Department.
X-Tremists is still one of my favorites in this event, even if I’m not too sure how I feel about two extremely wordy issues back-to-back. That said, the dialogue and characterization are what make this mini work for me, so I’m willing to keep thumbs-upping any heartfelt Betsy monologues. Georges Jeanty and Roberto Poggi have really grown on me as artists over three issues and are putting in some consistently dynamic work, especially with their facial expressions.
Age of X-Man: Prisoner X #3
Writer: Vita Ayala
Artist: German Peralta
Colorist: Mike Spicer
Letterer: VC’S Joe Sabino
Key Characters: Bishop, Honey Badger, Dani Moonstar, Polaris, Beast, Legion
This entire issue is framed by a Bishop monologue delivered to a mystery person. The inmates of the Danger Room are victims of hallucinations, with Gabby envisioning another lunchroom fight and Lorna seeing herself escaping her collar and taking down the guards. Hank and Dani discuss the nature of their prison. In the last few pages, Bishop is shown in his cell and his neighbor is revealed to be none other than Legion, also the source of the series' menacing laughter.
God! I just love Vita Ayala and this art team so much! Can German Peralta please get a big main X-Series this fall? Can Ayala get a shot at writing literally anyone at Marvel? This is my favorite issue of the entire event so far, barring maybe the Alpha issue. Still intriguing, still keeping me guessing, and still delivering the great character work.
Meanwhile on Uncanny X-Men
Uncanny X-Men #16 & #17
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Artist: Salvador Larroca & Carlos E. Gomez
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Key Characters: Wolfsbane, Magik, Dani Moonstar, Karma, Havok, Cyclops, Wolverine, Multiple Man, Chamber, Juggernaut, Joseph, Banshee, Hope Summers, Revanche
Cyclops, you’re out as team leader! The X-Men are a democracy! Wolfsbane, wanting to take a shot at a normal life, leaves the team. Magik puts Hope joining the team to a vote (shocker, it passes). On their next mission, the X-Men are attacked by Juggernaut and...Magneto???? Kidding, it’s Joseph, his clone. Karma manages to indirectly (but purposely) talk Juggernaut into attacking Joseph for them and Joseph is then killed by Revanche. After the brief battle, Dani collapses, telling everyone else that “Wolfsbane is dead!” Next issue picks up with everyone getting ready to attend Rahne’s funeral service, except Logan and Kwannon who are instead going to serve up some justice on her behalf. We’re treated to two beautiful eulogies from Dani and Illyana, woven over the story of Rahne’s death, told to Logan by her attackers, who are then killed along with a O.N.E team that’s managed to track the mutants. Juggernaut asks why Emma Frost isn’t on Scott’s list and Scott says……”WHO IS EMMA FROST?”
This run is still ripping along (and I love the storyline), but it falters a bit for me here. We’re treated to Xi’an finally getting her chance to shine in #16. Again, I won’t tell anyone how to react to character death, but Rahne is one of my absolute favorites, and as someone who was just talking to another X-fan last week about all her story possibilities, it’s disappointing to see her killed here. She’s also the victim of a hate crime and not of some epic battle or sacrifice, which is extra gutting, but rings true to the bleak current status quo for mutants in the 616. Much more informed folks than myself have made the connection between Rahne’s death and trans panic, and that opens an entire other line of discussion in regards to X-Men and the use of the mutant metaphor in 2019. At the very least, we’re given time to breathe and mourn alongside her longtime friends and teammates. Carlos E. Gomez, meanwhile, is a welcome, but brief, change on art for #17.
Check out last month’s Age of X-Man Round-Up here!
Allison buys books professionally and comics unprofessionally. You can find her chaotic neutral Twitter feed at @maliciousglee.