X-Men ’92: House of XCII #1 was a pure delight, offering readers an X-Men The Animated Series meets ’90s X-Men comics under the lens of Jonathan Hickman’s brave new direction. With the second issue out today, the team of Steve Foxe and Salvador Espin continue to flesh out the key character that can reset time when she dies. No, it’s not Moira, but an iconic character made famous in the ’90s! (Obviously spoilers ahead for the issue.)
As the preview showed, this issue opens with a montage of the many lives of Jubilee. It’s well done, even as and this entire issue is filled with such collages. Even though any given page may have only three panels, Espin and Foxe do a great job making references to X-Men history while still progressing the plot. You see it in the opening as Jubilee slowly learns she has reincarnated with each new life, showing us a tantalizing taste of some landmark moment in the X-Men canon. There’s also an efficient recap of the various characters on Krakoa doing things in groups that gives us a taste of how this version of Krakoa is a bit different.
And speaking of things being well done, there’s the data pages, which just scream “90s awesomeness” in terms of style and substance. The “Krakoa Beat” is played in a really comical way, with facts listed and also covering all the absolute worst villains of the X-Men. It’s a fun way to show this comic is, in a sense, for all ages. On the other data page, Foxe lists off a soundtrack on cassette that has a different ’90s track for each mutant. Clearly, Foxe put a lot of thought into this and it’s a fun idea to enhance the story at-large.
Espin’s style, along with colors by Israel Silva, help do a great job capturing the cartoony and all-ages vibe of the visuals. His style is perfectly suited to this era of X-Men. It also creates an interesting juxtaposition between the deeply adult nature of mutants dying and being under fire socially with the bubbly fun of the animated show era. Layouts are quite simple, with many pages having just a handful few panels, but it all works really well given the tone and focus of the series.
Plot-wise, this issue is quite intriguing, setting up two mysteries that are well worth returning to in the next issue. The first involves Wolverine, who we all know is Jubilee’s sidekick across the ’90s, while the other sets up a diabolical plan by the villains. Both are vague enough to make you want more, but there’s a certainty in the direction that’s compelling enough.
Rounding out the issue are Joe Sabino’s letters, which are clean and expressive. I particularly enjoyed the emphasis or deemphasis based on a character being weary or simply lowering their voice.
If you weren’t sold on issue #1 of X-Men ’92: House Of XCII, the second issue certainly will. The name of the game for this series is efficiency as Foxe and Espin homage to the past while making it feel totally brand-new all at the same time.
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