X-Cellent‘s return last year brought back a beloved creative duo and their underrated characters, reintroducing their unique storytelling techniques and characters with a modern twist. The X-Cellent‘s first issue doesn’t make as big a splash as last year’s return did, but it sets the stage for more interesting adventures to come.
X-Cellent has always kind of existed as its own thing, with the characters and their stories having little to no impact or interaction with the rest of the Marvel Universe. In a lot of ways, that contained setting is to the series’ benefit, as it can tell the story it needs to tell without worrying too much about larger effects and what characters can do what things. X-Cellent is certainly in the same boat (though I have mentioned in my last X-Cellent review that placing this team on Krakoa could be fascinating and fun).
Much of the same things at play in the first X-Cellent volume are still at play here now with Zeitgeist’s X-Cellent team attempting to outdo Guy’s X-Statix. A lot of X-Statix‘s appeal was culturally relevant, self-aware comedy and how Milligan used his cast to poke fun at the reality TV that had dominated pop culture at the time of publication. This time, that humor is veered towards social media and the self-aware humor comes from how these characters interact with something so mundane but hugely important in society.
The comedy is hit or miss in the first issue, with some gags hitting a lot better than others. Zeitgeist has mostly been used as your typical alt-right loser type and the situations he’s put in are mostly funny to us on the outside for knowing that. He’s a villain and a terrible person, so obviously him being outwardly cruel to people isn’t a surprise. He gets called out for treating Mirror Girl badly and her fellow female teammate holds Zeigeist’s feet to the flame to leave her alone. Being this alt-right type caricature that he is, when the women in the book distance themselves from him, he says lines like “why do girls keep running away from me?” There’s zero self awareness on his part, of course, but that’s what makes the gag work.
The setup of the social media feud was teased greatly in the first volume so issue #1 here feels a lot like retreading ground, but it still has its moments. Venus Dee Milo’s impending return and Edie Sawyer’s one-over on Zeitgeist are big highlights of the issue as well as the gags that Milligan does pull off successfully. But if X-Cellent works, it’s in no small part thanks to Mike Allred’s pencils. Allred has always been one of the best things about the title to the point where I don’t think X-Statix can or should exist without him. His art is phenomenal and even when the jokes don’t land, his art stands out as great.
The X-Cellent‘s return to the comic book world continues to showcase the series’ unique storytelling techniques, offering a modern twist to their underrated heroes. Although the first issue doesn’t have the same impact as last year’s return, it sets up a stage for more interesting adventures to come with the same cultural relevance and self-aware humor. Mike Allred’s pencils continue to be the highlight of the title, even when some of the gags fall flat.
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