X-Men #15 is the first issue in a little bit that isn’t tied to the Judgment Day event (which has been excellent), bringing back the Vault plot from Hickman’s initial run on the title. The issue itself meanders around a little, packed with fluff to stall the real plot which takes place in the next issue. But it’s not without its bright spots, either.
The X of Swords event fell flat when it pussyfooted around and resorted to filler to hold off on the real action. One of the worst instances of this was Duggan’s Marauders, in which there was an entire issue dedicated to a dinner party gone wrong just to redo the dinner later the “right” way. This issue of X-Men falls into the same plot failing, with half of the issue being a reality that just doesn’t exist and is ultimately a waste of time.
The concept of Forge sticking the Children of the Vault in a simulated reality in which they believe they have finally conquered all of humanity (and other notable species in the Marvel Universe) is actually really interesting. Forge is a character that hasn’t been important in X-Men lore in years, but his involvement with the Vault has been the most interesting the character has been in years — and has given him the most to do in years.
His inventions and his cocky attitude about their success are a pleasure to read, painting Forge as a total badass. Cassara’s art is always good, though in this issue it really sticks out how much better a fit he is on X-Force. His style can be so striking and it really fit the X-Force mood, especially when he gets to play around with the horror elements that book carries. X-Men doesn’t really give him the same chance to shine, making his pencils here look plainer than they typically look in X-Force.
In Duggan’s first year of X-Men, the book fell flat by primarily focusing on Jean and Scott, two of the only characters who carried over to the new team and subsequently giving the other characters little to no chance to shine. This issue is another one that doesn’t balance the cast, focusing purely on one character. But because this character is Forge, a character we haven’t seen truly shine in a long time, it’s a really smart choice to focus in on him primarily this issue.
Angelica being on the team is mostly handled in a nice way, with the other X-Men clearly trying to help her get used to embracing her mutant status. With the concept of Krakoa being mutants thriving and living in acceptance, having Angelica finally be able to embrace her mutantdom and involve herself in that community by being on their flagship team is a really sweet idea.
While X-Men #15 is mostly a fluff issue, the issue it sets up should be far more interesting. Forge goes into the Vault to rescue Darwin and with that plot thread finally being touched on again, interesting developments are sure to follow.
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