X-Men is likely considered the main Dawn of X title, in part because Jonathan Hickman is writing it. It’s also the main book since they told everyone at SDCC the lineup of characters focused on will change every arc. Much of the focus has been on daddy Cyclops so far, but in the third issue some business has come up in Savage Land and he has to do a little work with his ex-girlfriend. No big deal (hear X-Twitter screaming).
Without a doubt, the characterization of Cyclops, Jean, and Emma in this issue is flirty, vague, and clearly designed to cause a stir in readers. There isn’t much concrete being said or done, but the subtext is there for fans to debate on. That positions this as a great X-Men book for fans of the relationships and it’ll certainly have folks talking. Hickman also writes a strong Sebastian Shaw who tags along in the main adventure and serves as a nice compass for what is going on around him.
Make no mistake though, this is a science fiction book at its core. That core resides around a new villainous group introduced here. They not only have spunky and interesting personalities between the three but they get their very own data pages. It’s quite clear the X-Men must face off against this new foe and yet their intentions are sound (well two out of the three anyway). Dubbed Hordeculture, this group wants to save the world through plants. You can understand their interest in Krakoan plants given they’re changing the lives of billions around the globe. A heavy dosage of gloom is thrown into the mix considering corporations want to make a buck over helping a fellow man and this group hates that. It positions them as a foe due to their methods, but not necessarily due to their intentions. That adds a layer of complexity that works well.
Leinil Francis Yu does a good job designing the costumes on these characters who wear clothes that are a cross between deep sea diver suits and plague doctor outfits. It suits the part given their point of view. I continue to marvel at the body language Yu gives Cyclops. He has a swagger that’s unmistakable. Emma gets a few stand out reaction moments too and you have to love the subtext in the visuals when Jean, Emma, and Cyclops are in the room together.
My only gripe with this issue is that some of the actions of the characters are seemingly there just to serve the plot. For a master tactical genius, Cyclops blows it, Sebastian Shaw acts a fool, and Emma basically stands there. You can explain why each failed, but it’s still strange the three go to the Savage Land expecting a threat and treat them like they would a puppy. The book reads a bit like it was all a way to get in, set up the Hordeculture, and get out.
I liked this issue for its science-fiction sensibilities and its clear relationship subtext everyone is dying to learn more about between Jean, Emma, and Cyclops. So far each issue of this series feels different from the last and yet each has a strong identity all its own.
Listen to the latest episode of our weekly Comics podcast