When Marvel announced that Wolverine, Synch, and Darwin would be coming out of the Vault, interest in the series immediately piqued once again. After all, it had been about a year since the three went in, with no word since of when that plot would be picked up. X-Men #18 seemed that it would answer all our questions, giving back these characters who we’ve missed for a year. And it…kinda doesn’t? This is just the first part of the story, which X-Men #19 solicits seem to pick up on. Instead, what we have is an intriguing look into the “first day” of the Vault mission.
X-Men #18’s biggest problem is its setup. Since X-Men #5, virtually no one on the island has expressed concern for Wolverine, Synch, or Darwin. It’s weird that Logan never once asked about Laura, or Vulcan, Petra and Sway about Darwin — or Emma about Synch. The closest we got was a hint of Gabby missing Laura in New Mutants. It’s hard to read X-Men #18 without some disappointment about how this plot was simply dropped until now, seemingly not affecting the island’s residents the way something like Rockslide’s death had.
The issue’s biggest strength is setting the story from Synch’s point of view, a character who had little to no panel time until now. When House of X/Powers of X launched, one of the biggest surprises was seeing Synch alive, locking arms with his buddy Skin. Putting him on the Vault mission secured some importance for him in the future of the line, which is really exciting for Generation X fans. In that respect, X-Men #18 does everything the new era should be doing: giving voices to long-lost characters who don’t often get to shine.
Hickman also presents some interesting bread crumb trails for the future of Synch and other “resurrected” mutants. Most readers knew the resurrection protocols would be too good to be true, though how they unfold has yet to be seen. In X-Men #18, Hickman presents the idea that the protocols cause mutants’ powers to change. In Synch’s case, his powers are now working on non-mutants as well, increasing his range. It’s an interesting idea, one that will be really fascinating to see unfold at a later time.
The use of deadly force on the Children of the Vault is expected, leading to one of the more interesting data pages of the series thus far. Seeing how the Council adapts and bends their laws is one of the more interesting aspects of Hickman’s dystopia setting for the X-Men, so it’s nice to see some of that plot come into play. The issue ends on a somber note, hinting that some tragedy is to befall our three heroes very soon.
X-Men #18 immediately sets itself apart from the rest of the issues in the title by feeling like it has direction, setting plot into play. For a series that often feels like it’s riddled with fluff pieces, these big plot-centric issues are much welcome. It’s a fun read that sets up interesting questions for the future of Krakoa and Asrar’s art is beautiful, giving every page a nice polish.
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