From the minute the Hellfire Gala was announced, Planet-Size X-Men was heralded as the “can’t-miss” issue of the event, promising huge changes. The problem is, nothing in Planet-Size X-Men is that surprising — mostly because the marketing of this era and the previous issues of the event itself gave away the big surprises of this issue.
SPOILERS AHEAD for Planet-Size X-Men #1!
As just about everyone expected, the X-Men are turning Mars into a planet for mutants. Aside from all the marketing focusing on Mars and teasing expansion, which really gave away this plot point, the previous Hellfire Gala issues did as well. Was anyone really surprised at this? No. Heck, even if you don’t pay attention to the marketing side of things and have a very small social media presence, even things like Scott’s meeting with Steve was already spoiled by previous issues. In Marauders alone, The Shi’ar congratulate Emma on mutantkind forging their own planet — that’s the whole point of Planet-Size!
It’s the problem with this event being non-linear and it makes one wonder if Planet-Size X-Men should have been the first issue in the event to avoid all this. They already told us the story, so why are we just experiencing it now with little more to offer?
The saving grace of Planet-Size X-Men is Pepe Larraz’s beautiful artwork, making every page look absolutely gorgeous. The mere idea of Planet Arakko also opens up for some really interesting legwork for the X-series moving forward. House of X/Powers of X involved a lot of imagery featuring mutantkind in space; it’ll be interesting to see how close the current plot veers towards similar themes now that more of mutantkind is in space.
There is one very troubling section where Jean implants an idea in Jamie Braddock’s mind to “give birth” to. The following panels feature a body horror-esque segment of Braddock literally giving birth to a space station. The body horror element of a man giving birth, the idea that it’s unnatural…it all feels transphobic, like something that was clearly conceived by cis writers. Of course, Jamie Braddock isn’t a trans man, but it is important to remember that trans men can give birth and there’s nothing unnatural or horrifying about that. Trans men in our society are constantly pummeled with images of men giving birth used as jokes or as body horror scenes and it’s time writers started to pay a bit more attention to the rhetoric they’re using here, even if unintentional. The concept of “birth” through violation like that is also just extremely troubling in concept. All in all, it’s just not good imagery being used here.
The most interesting and surprising thing to come out of Planet-Size X-Men is the space station, though, S.W.O.R.D. #2 that will fly over Planet Arakko. This idea becomes so intriguing if only because it means Al Ewing might have an even larger sandbox to work with. It also leads one to wonder just who is going to be working in that space station –and if S.W.O.R.D.‘s lineup is any clue, it will be stacked.
All in all, Planet-Size X-Men suffers from having its most exciting reveals spoiled already by Marvel’s own marketing and previous issues in the Hellfire Gala event. Larraz brings beauty and grandeur to every page and the era of expansion on Planet Arakko is in itself a very exciting concept.
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