J. Holtham and Sean Damien Hill are diving into a new Bishop miniseries this week, which you probably know all about. How could you not, given how popular the X-Men, Bishop, and X-Men Monday are?! It’s a series focused on Bishop, Krakoa’s Captain Commander, tasked with training younger mutants for battle. It’s a heavy responsibility since many of these mutants could be killed or even worse in the field. The first issue juggles multiple mutants, a surprising threat, and an even more surprising twist ending.
Despite the title, Bishop: War College #1 is very much a team book, with a wide range of mutants involved in Bishop’s training. Holtham gives select mutants moments to shine on their own too, which should delight longtime X-Men fans. When the book starts, tempers are flaring as Bishop continues to push the younger mutants over and over. Holtham and Hill are using this to do some exciting character work on Bishop, who is more a drill sergeant than a teacher, and the mutants, who feel disrespected on some scale.
Fans of Tempo, Surge, Armor, Cam Long, Aura, and Amass will be excited to know everyone has something to say and do here. They don’t feel like background characters but supporting ones. There’s a great scene between Tempo and Bishop, for instance, that shows his mutual respect for the mutant.
The threat emerges about halfway through the issue, but before they strike, we’re given a rather scary reminder of what Bishop went through as a kid. Hill draws the hell out of this scene, showing Bishop falling into skulls and mirror images of all the forms Bishop took over the years. He’s a soldier, a hero, and dealing with a lot.
If you’re expecting answers surrounding the Black X-Men gracing the cover, you’ll need to wait for issue #2. They act as the cliffhanger, and while it’d be nice to get some answers, the majority of this book is solid enough that you’ll feel entertained. My only other gripe is these characters can look a touch awkward. Hill does a great job with details and packing in many characters in any given panel, but the style makes everyone a bit lanky and, at times, awkward in the hips or not differentiated enough as far as their bodies. It’s a minor gripe, but one that caught my eye.
If you’re a diehard X-Men fan, you’ll be happy as a clam reading Bishop: War College #1. Juggling multiple characters with strong dialogue and character writing, along with what feels like the next big chapter for Bishop, the creative team comes out of the gate with an excellent first issue.
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