The day in the life of an X-Man is ever-present in this week’s X-Men #5. Specifically, it tracks Polaris and the incredible things she does, but also how she’s stuck in her own head. Written by Gerry Duggan with art by Javier Pina & Zé Carlos, it’s a good example of how a team comic can take a step back and add context to a specific member. It also fleshes out Polaris a bit and might make her your favorite mutant yet.
This issue opens with most of the X-Men down for the count at the hands of the Reavers. Sunfire makes a last-ditch effort to fight but is soon knocked out, leaving only Polaris left to fight. If you don’t know, Polaris can control metal and we get a great showing of those powers in this issue. That starts with Polaris controlling a knocked-out Wolverine, which is an impressive feat.
The strength of this issue lies in how Duggan lays out Polaris’s self-doubt starting back at the Hellfire Gala. This issue jumps around a bit in order to show plot development, but also how incredible Polaris is despite not seeing it herself. A key bit of information involves some self-doubt Jean Grey turns around for her, a bit forcefully I might add, but it all works out. In fact, you might be annoyed with Jean at first, but later in the issue, you can see how Jean is actually a great leader and did the right thing.
The story charts each day’s adventures, starting with Monday and running up to Wednesday, which helps establish how bonkers the X-Men’s lives are. They’re saving the day in different ways and not letting up. They’re a super-team, and you can see that from the word go, even if they’re nearly beaten at the start of the issue.
The time jumps from one day to another do make the narrative feel a bit schizophrenic. Tuesday, in particular, is more about seeding Dr. Stasis for a future tale with a relatively harmless joke thrown in. It’s also not said if the main story is taking place on Wednesday (each day has a caption to tell you which day it is), which makes the narrative lose the thread around how badass and jam-packed the X-Men’s lives are on a given week. You can infer it’s Wednesday so it still works, but it loses a bit of that purpose.
Don’t expect a lot of character development across the team — this is really Polaris’ issue. That said, what’s on the page here is quite intriguing and her powers are well rendered by the team of artists. Meanwhile, Dr. Stasis gets a few shadowy moments, though it is odd he’s on the cover when he’s not the focus of the book. Knowing covers tend to be made sometimes months before scripts are completed, though, it’s not a big deal.
Speaking of artists, you can tell where the artist switch is, but it’s not very jarring thanks in part to the plot switching to different days. The super-heroics look great and the tender moments between characters land. No complaints there, and the color art by Erick Arciniega is good too, especially in the final scene with Cyclops.
The issue closes with a key scene between Cyclops and Ben Urich which might just throw the peace between humans and Krakoa into disarray. I won’t spoil a thing, but given what Urich knows, and how much of a facet he is in the Marvel universe, Cyclops ends up having to think hard on what his next move will be.
Overall, X-Men #5 is a great issue that leads into the holidays with a mix of heightened emotions. The X-Men are the world’s newest — and possibly best — superhero team, and yet danger looms not only from the man watching them but from humans who may find out their greatest secret. In the end, this issue will make you love Polaris even more while the larger story’s stakes rise.
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