The Trials of X run, much like the Dawn and Reign collections before it, is usually a great way to experience the ongoing X-books, especially if you are a completist who wants to read everything synchronously. They have been a curious way to curate the line and give the titles a sense of continuity beyond their own individual pages. With Volume 2, we get some very strong work from Al Ewing, Leah Williams, and Benjamin Percy, yet the odd assortment of issues feels like a desk-cleaning operation as Marvel prepares for the next volume.
Often, we get one, maybe two issues from a run placed alongside other X-books that came out about that same time. The best collections from this series of trades are when they assemble some like-minded titles or showcase a variety of talent from the line. With this collection, we have the last three issues of The Trial of Magento, the Cable: Reloaded one shot, and Wolverine #14. While I quite like all the comics present, it feels odd that it would basically contain more than half of the Trial of Magento, which is already available in TPB.
Cable: Reloaded #1, written by Al Ewing with art from Bob Quinn, is a one-shot, a Last Annihilation tie-in, and fundamentally a continuation of Ewing’s S.W.O.R.D. title. I missed this issue when it dropped in 2021, and it is a shame I did. It’s highly entertaining, reintroducing the adult Cable to the Marvel Universe while playfully aping his ’90s characterization. The cast of S.W.O.R.D. and the old-school X-Force are present, and there are plenty of brilliant splashy fight scenes gifted to the narrative thanks to Quinn’s pencil work. It’s an issue that serves a single purpose in getting the old Cable back but does so with delight and cheerfulness.
Wolverine #14, by Benjamin Percy and Adam Kubert, is more of the same great work these two creators have done on this series. Logan is on the search for a missing sword and confronts his enemy Solem. It’s a textbook specimen of the “Wolverine as Ronin” type storyline, and its beautifully visualized by Kubert.
The entire mid-section of this trade are issues #3-5 of The Trial of Magneto, written by Leah Williams with art from Lucas Werneck and David Messina, and these are fairly solid issues. This mini was originally intended to be an arc in Leah’s X-Factor title before its unfortunate cancelation, and I felt underwhelmed by the arc when it was initially released. Thankfully, this trade gave me an opportunity to read it with fresh eyes, and I walked away from it with positive sentiments. Regardless of its title, it is really a Scarlet Witch story, reintegrating her back into the affirming graces of mutankind. In many ways, Williams’ script benefits from this being removed from her X-Factor book, as she gives time and energy to focusing on Wanda, her father, and her past actions. It’s not perfect in its execution, but its far stronger than it was originally given credit for.
We are treated to a couple variant covers at the end. Peach Momoko and Oscar Vega’s covers are given the full-page treatment, while Rob Liefeld’s Cable cover was but a thumbnail. These small additions are critical to enjoying the book, but it would be nice to have each variant cover for these books republished as a full page.
As a sampling of X-books, this is an odd collection. Everything is well executed, with each issue being well worth the price of admission. It just seems odd that the bulk of the book is a majority of a single miniseries, and not a smattering of other monthly books.
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