What would you in a world that doesn’t make sense anymore and you’re the only one who remembers the way it was? That’s the central conceit of Age of X-Man: NextGen, which is out in trade paperback in comic shops today. The main character is Glob and his powers have shielded him from the mind wipe everyone seems to have gone under. More alone than ever save for his two chickens, Hope, Logan, and Scott, until he discovers he can make others understand. Can a student with simple powers change the world?
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
In an age of utopia, the Summers Institute for Higher Learning is the premiere school for the mutant community across the globe. Attendance is mandatory for all mutant children, as they learn to become the next generation of marvelous X-Men. But even in a utopic society, teenagers will always find a way to rebel…Follow Glob, Armor, Anole and Rockslide as they discover what it really means to live in an age of peace and harmony!
Why does this matter?
The X-Men have always been about counter-culture, fighting against bigotry and hate, and doing what is right. In this series, Glob is a victim of a terrible act that has happened to everyone. What do you do when the world has gone mad and you’re fairly certain you’re the sane one?
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This book is aptly titled since it’s focused on the mutants who are up next to be superheroes. They aren’t yet allowed to help out those in need, but they’re getting there and learning how to be as good as the X-Men. The issue opens with Glob tending to his chickens, which is something he seems to do for solace and time to think. He is then bullied and it’s clear he’s sort of the odd man out. As the story unfolds, writer Ed Brisson captures Glob’s endearing nature and how he’s a lot like all of us in high school. He may not be the coolest guy, but he’s got his head on straight and internalizes a lot of what is said to him and what he sees.
As the story unfolds, Brisson reveals what is going on in this strange world, including secrets and odd turns for some characters. Hell, Blob is a good guy, or at least Glob is told that, but knows that isn’t right. The bigger mystery is a big reason why these Age of X-Man books work so well and it’s definitely a draw to read this series. Ultimately this book is quite sad as we learn these lesser-powered characters know what is right, but can’t change anything. They are trapped in this system and what is most sad is it is only Glob who will forever know the truth. Brisson effectively shows us how Glob is a true hero because he never gives up and never loses sight of the greater goal to help others know the truth even when threatened and hurt.
Marcus To draws the first four issues with Lucas Werneck finishing things off with the last fifth issue. Color artist Jason Keith and letterer Clayton Cowles keep everything similar from beginning to end. Marcus To’s art is quite good, with dark shadows and inks used to capture the somewhat nightmarish elements of this world. It’s hard not to love the design of Glob, who is strange to look at, yet somehow pretty. Maybe that’s thanks to the pinks used by Keith, but even the off-kilter eyeball can be cute in its own way. To positively kills it on a splashy introduction at one point (no spoilers!) and it’s hard to miss the expressive nature of Glob throughout. Werneck’s fifth issue is drawn with a slightly more detailed look, though it’s close enough to To’s to not be a distraction when things switch up. Werneck draws a very good splashy panel at one point with six heroes popping up and ready to throw down.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
For much of this narrative, there is much more telling than showing. The chickens and Glob’s spot to talk to them is used a few different times and it slows everything down to a crawl. Much like the main series, there isn’t a lot to do. There is a threat of an action, but not a lot of it. The tie-ins for this event suffered in that they couldn’t reveal too much of what was going on, too. As the story rolls forward there aren’t many answers, which are incredibly frustrating. The central conflict isn’t clear so you’re wondering who is bad when really nobody is making the book more about apathy in a time of crisis and take-over more than anything else.
Is it good?
Glob is fantastically realized and well done in this series it’s just unfortunate what he has to do and what the book reveals can’t sustain five full issues. It seems to bide its time more than tell the best story it could.
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