Just as Marvel’s line of X-books is about to enter its new Krakoan age, the Dawn of X trade collections are getting close to the end of Hickman’s initial relaunch of the X-Men. While these trades have been hit or miss in the way they have collected single disparate issues from across various X-books within a relatively similar publishing date, this newest addition collects some of my favorite recent single issues.
In this trade, we have X-Factor #3, Wolverine #5, New Mutants #12, Marauders #11-12 and Giant-Size X-Men: Fantomex from 2020. The best of these DoX trades are ones that can be appreciated by a reader who may not be following each current series, and this collection succeeds on that mark. Additionally, it has two of my favorite Duggan Marauders issues, the Williams X-Factor issue that really clutched my interest in her work, and Hickman’s excellent Fantomex character study. It’s simply a great assemblage of releases that even passing X-Men fans could pick up and enjoy.
In Marauders #11-12, we have the long-awaited resurrection of Kitty Pride and her introduction to the utopia of Krakoa. Duggan plays with the metaphoric elements of mutant rebirth, allowing Kitty’s resurrection to be both literal and metaphoric; more than a few comic readers were thrilled to see the now-mature leader explore her sexuality and role in the X-Men. Duggan’s work on this book has received praise for its attentive characterization, and these issues reveal why it is a fan favorite.
Leah Williams’ X-Factor, having set the table and tone in the previous issues, hits an early stride in this third release. When I first got wind of the stable of characters Williams decided to use for this book, I was puzzled. Few seemed connected to previous incarnations of X-Factor, and fewer still seemed relevant to what is essentially a mystery/crime series. But as her characters interact and navigate the various social dilemmas present on an island of mutants (including murderous criminals), you can feel the love, affection and purpose Williams has for each member. Baldeon’s artwork continues to be comical and fun, distinguishing it from the grittier books on the comic shelf.
Benjamin Percy’s Wolverine continues to feel like a throwback to another age, with Wolverine confronting Dracula and his gaggle of vampires. It’s a fun, straightforward book that manages to wrap up this single arc while giving it more than a few nods to the larger X-Men universe without burdening this side-story. Viktor Bogdanovic is an incredible artist; I often got the feeling I was looking at the work of someone who grew up loving Marvel Comics Presents issues form the late ’80s, as his work captures the same terrifying energy and exaggerated irrationality.
Hickman’s Fantomex standalone issue is my favorite of his Giant-Size issues to date. It finds the Morrison-era character trying to enter “The World,” a space unmoored by the universe outside of it where super soldiers like him are created. Each decade of Fantomex’s unnaturally long life is spent trying to gather together a team to help him reach his clone, controlling the entire pocket-universe. Hickman’s talent for world-building and grand, engrossed storytelling is on display throughout the issue, with a few nods to Marvel history appropriately thrown in to show his love for the medium. The pencils by Rod Reis are beautiful, giving the mind-bending storyline visual aptitude and lucidity.
As we are about to enter the new era of the X-Men with a relaunch of the main title this July, it’s important to remember that even while it is not written by Hickman, he is still providing the vision behind the scenes. The arcs and characters addressed in this trade will continue to feed into the upcoming X-line, thus making this a worthy addition to any reader’s collection.
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