Marvel’s collecting of the entire X-Men line continues with the 11th volume of the Dawn of X run, featuring some fine work by all the creative teams involved, yet leaving the trade ultimately feeling like filler issues in preparation for the X of Swords event. I’m on the record as being supportive of this reprinting style, with a selection of X titles published in a 1-2 month period combined together into one book soon after their initial release. In this trade, we get New Mutants #10-11, Wolverine #1, Excalibur #10 and Hellions #2-3. It’s the first collection in this line of trades that doesn’t feature any work from the current X universe frontrunner Jonathan Hickman, which makes it feel even more like an odds-and-ends collection of issues simply providing dressing to the larger mutant universe.
While many of these issues may not be quintessential to the current series of X-books, there is a lot to like here. The New Mutants work feels like a throwback to an earlier era of X-Men; it would fit well into a Generation X run from the late ’90s, and was satisfying to get a taste of in the current Krakoan-societal universe. Ed Brisson and Flaviano complete these fill-in issues by bringing us to some less-loved characters from this era and provide some amazing splash pages to boot. If you find yourself doing a fill-in arc, this isn’t a bad way to do deliver content of substance.
The first Wolverine issue was a great way to give Logan a solo adventure in this new status-quo, with excellent pencil work by Viktor Bogdanovic. I generally avoided Wolverine solo issues as they seemed to stay focused on the previously established beat, but this issue hints at some tantalizing narrative prospects and kept picking it up since.
Excalibur continues on its exploration of Psylocke and Marvel’s mystical realm, providing nice context for the X of Swords event that followed. Writer Tini Howard loves these characters, and while none of them are favorites of mine, she has given them interesting things to do and purposeful things to collaborate with. I continue to find the current Hellions run by Zeb Wells and Stephen Segovia to be one of my favorite comics, and we see the beginnings of the tone and direction in these early issues. We get the return of Madalyn Pryor, so what’s not to like?
Unfortunately, all of these issues (with the exception of Excalibur) seem unnecessary in the grand scheme of things. Unlike some of the earlier Dawn of X trades, which simply grouped each issue in the X-line from a single month together, it’s clear that this trade is made of odds-and-ends narrative sections. It doesn’t make any of them bad (I enjoyed all of these issues when I picked them up at my local comic shop on release day), but it does call into question collecting issues in this manner. The two Hellions issues, when divorced from issue one, four and five don’t give the narrative developed by Wells its due credit. Throwing in a single Excalibur issue, heavy on its own continuity, with a single issue of Wolverine and a side story in New Mutants didn’t quite work.
Having said that, I encourage Marvel to continue exploring this publishing strategy. Having all my X books in a single trade each month still feels superior to buying single issues at this point, but it’s likely best to stick to just reprinting an entire month’s lineup than picking and choosing small pieces of an arc to group together.
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