The Dawn of X collections are continuing! That’s pretty neat. I’m writing this review with the expectation that people planning on buying this have already read the contents of the previous six, because honestly, if you’re going to start at volume 7, you’re not making a good decision.
With that being said, this series of trades continues to be fascinating — each volume is not a complete story, and does not tie together in any way. The Dawn of X collections are closest to an anthology series, with each chapter residing in the same universe as the last but nothing more. It’s honestly a fascinating experiment in the idea of semi-regular Marvel anthology books as opposed to single issues. This is like the big Shonen Jump magazine, or 2000AD.
The first chapter of this is New Mutants #7, the conclusion to Hickman’s New Mutants run. Picking this one to start on was… an interesting choice, but it works reasonably well. It’s a lighthearted introduction to the book that doesn’t exactly set the tone for the rest, but allows the reader to ease into it a bit. I’m also fascinated by the choice to open this on the conclusion to a story; it drives home that this is not something to read if you’re expecting a complete experience, rather only if you’re planning to continue what you are already committed to. Hickman’s writing gets a little overbearing in this one, as his sense of humor is definitely not universally enjoyed, but Rod Reis’s art more than makes up for it.
Next we have the first issue of Ben Percy’s Wolverine, although weirdly, only the first story of the issue. I’m curious where the other story will fall in these books. This issue is incredibly tonally dissonant from the first chapter of this book, to the point that it honestly took me out of the experience a little bit. The transition from Sunspot and Cannonball celebrating about how much trouble they’re going to get into right into Wolverine waking up to find his teammates are dead? It’s a bizarre change and not something that works, honestly. I don’t have too much more to say about that — Percy’s writing doesn’t work for me, but it does improve later in the series, and Kubert’s art is very solid.
The third issue of six is Marauders #7, which is a solid issue if fairly light on actual content. It’s part of a slow build to the revelation to the rest of the team of Kate’s fate from the previous issue, and in this slow build individual issues feel loosely packed. It’s not really a negative so much as the lack of a positive, and the art being… serviceable doesn’t do the book any favors.
The next two chapters are two consecutive issues of Excalibur, which is another fascinating choice. These issues are a two-part filler arc, although they’re not that kind of filler. Rather, it’s a bit of a side excursion sandwiched in between two much bigger arcs of the book. I appreciate the choice to group these together, because the worst part of the book on a monthly basis was having these two issues a month apart from each other. Otherwise, Excalibur continues to be a delight.
The final issue is one that’s been talked about to death, and with good reason: X-Men #7 features The Crucible, a mutant ritual for regaining one’s powers. A lot of people found this incredibly empowering, and others found it horrific. This is also reflected in the text, as several characters are shown to be conflicted about or outright against the existence of Crucible.
Hickman does a fantastic job crafting this issue, and I don’t think a short paragraph about it here would do it justice. It was a great choice to end this collection on X-Men #7, because it’s something that’ll keep readers thinking about the book after they finish it.
As a whole, this collection is definitely worth the purchase for people who’ve been enjoying Dawn of X until this point. There’s some new stuff dropped in there, and it ends on an issue that will redefine readers’ views of the new status quo, for better or for worse. This one suffers a bit more from the disjointed nature of the anthology style, pitting two incredibly tonally dissonant stories back to back, but in spite of that it still manages to be a readable experience. If you’re planning on starting with this one, don’t. Do yourself the favor and start from the beginning. It’s definitely worth it.