I was critical of the hodgepodge of issues collected in the previous Dawn of X trade, noting that this method of publishing (collecting a selection of single issues in the current X line) had its limitations when the issues grouped together lack cohesion. It seems that Marvel saved their choice issues for this collection, easing my previous criticism of this series of trades. With the 12th installment in the Dawn of X series, we get some of its best issues, providing an excellent look into the variety present in the current X books.
We are treated to five single issues in this collection: Hellions #4, Marauders #10, X-Factor #1, Giant-Size X-Men: Magneto, and Cable #2. For those unfamiliar with the current run of books, it may be daunting to pick up a trade made up of such incongruent issues, but that should not dissuade you from this assortment. Yes, there is a great deal of lore and continuity embedded in each issue, but the narratives provided are both approachable and engaging, even if you are less familiar with the current direction of the X-Men line. In fact, these five issues demonstrate just how much variety and independent voices are present in the current X orbit of titles. There is simply something for everyone, regardless of your superhero tastes, in this collection of books.
Hellions #4 kicks off the book and wraps up the first arc by Wells and Segovia. This might seem like an odd place to start the book, but it’s an easy enough issue to follow with some fine pencil work throughout. It’s really with this issue that we see the tone and direction Wells will be tapping into in later arcs, with Nanny confronting Sinister about his shady design on the team of misfit mutants and the island of Krakoa. With all mutants allowed on Krakoa, regardless of their prior actions, it’s nice to see a book focus on how these individuals may reform (or not). Wells writes Sinister in an entrancing fashion, and he remains the standout star from this series.
Mauraders continues to provide excellent characterization and action, with Duggan knowing just how to provide appropriate conflict for his cast, taking advantage of their strengths and history. This may be the most traditional of the current X-books, with Caselli providing clean and clear linework to complement character interactions.
X-Factor by Williams and Baldeon is one of the standout arcs to come out in recent months, and here we have the introduction issue to the series. Building on previous iterations of this team as detectives, we have a new roster gathered to investigate mutant deaths and rebirths in Krakoa. With so many changes made to the X status quo since House of X, this series is required reading as these characters consider the implications of the resurrection protocols. What Williams does well, even in this first table-setting issue, is give her cast of characters real emotion and uniqueness. What could have been a very cerebral examination of the ramifications of having vanquished death is made into book focusing on characterization and the interaction of its crew. Baldeon’s art is distinct and fun, and it helps this book stand apart from its other contemporaries. It’s a great tone setting issue that effectively puts the book into second gear.
If Jonathan Hickman knows one thing, it’s how to present Magneto in this current narrative environment. His single-issue exploration of the character gives him authority and grandeur, all while subtly exposing some possible nefarious designs he has on the future of the world. Namor is brought in with purpose, and the issue ends with a massive battle with an octopus and Magento sitting atop his new island castle, Sentinel head and all. This grand chronicle is complemented by Ramon Perez, who is able to capture the scale and weight of the character’s force without overcomplicating the panels. It’s a great issue, and knowing Hickman’s scripting foresight, is clearly setting up future stories.
Lastly, we have Cable #2, a series that has been a pleasant surprise in the current iteration of X-books. It brings some teenage excitement to the big changes happening on Krakoa. Duggan and Noto find a way to work the character into the larger narrative arcs while focusing on the immaturity of its titular hero.
It might seem odd to recommend the 12th volume of a series made up of random issues a year into Dawn of X as an excellent starting point to approach the X-books, but that’s what we have here. It’s a testament to the strong writing and independence of each book that each of these issues stands so well on their own and provide radically different style and tone to the Krakoan age.
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