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Cover Crop Immortal X-Men Vol 4
Courtesy of Marvel

Comic Books

‘Immortal X-Men by Kieron Gillen’ Vol. 4 brings the series to an exciting and satisfying end

Gillen’s character work can’t be beat.

For my money, Al Ewing’s X-Men: Red has been the best X-Men ongoing series in the Krakoan Era since Jonathan Hickman left after Inferno. But the very close second best has to be Kieron Gillen’s Immortal X-Men – which so perfectly filled in the vacuum Hickman left. In the series, Gillen has chronicled the further political developments and ultimate failure of Krakoa’s Quiet Council. Immortal X-Men by Kieron Gillen Vol. 4, released today, collects the final five issues of the series. If only the story finished in this collection as well.

I see signs of the series being rushed, as Marvel obviously was pushing for the end of the Krakoan Era. Most notably, the five issues are drawn by three different artists. Fortunately, all three do a wonderful job. Series artist Lucas Werneck only drew issues #14 and #16, but they are two of his best. Paco Medina filled in for issue #15, but matches Werneck’s style so well that I couldn’t tell much of a difference.

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The final two issues were drawn by Juan José Ryp and his highly detailed style, while not perfect, is very good. The images are dynamic and action-packed. I especially like what he did with the panel shapes and page structure. If anything, there’s almost too much detail – too many lines on faces, for example. And I can’t help but wonder how much of the detail arises out of some sort of computer-aided tracing technique. Despite the minor complaints, I think Ryp definitely has a bright future in comics.

Immortal X-Men Vol. 4 Xavier

Courtesy of Marvel.

The story arc takes place at the beginning of the Fall of X phase, picking up right after Orchis’ devastating attack at last summer’s Hellfire Gala. We get to see what happens to key characters, including Sebastian Shaw, Selene, Prof. X, Destiny, Hope, Exodus, Jean Grey and all of the mutants Prof. X forced through Krakoan gates at the end of the Gala. Luckily, the character work by Gillen is what struck me most – proving again that the best stories are character driven.

First, we witness the complete emotional ruin of Professor X, whose grand dream of a mutant paradise has come to a horrible, violent end. On top of his demoralizing grief, he feels the heavy burden of guilt, believing all of the mutants he mentally forced through the gates were killed when they went through. He’s retreated to the now deserted Krakoa. Werneck wonderfully depicts the bearded, hopeless face of Xavier, as he kneels on a beach, staring depressed into nothingness.

Elsewhere, Gillen continues to write Sebastian Shaw and Selene as pure villains, now attempting to use the fall of Krakoa to their own ends. Shaw thinks only of siding with the winning team and exploiting what’s left of Krakoa for monetary profit. Selene is looking to regain power she’s long lost. It’s interesting to watch how they scheme and how easily their greed can be turned against them.

Immortal X-Men Vol. 4 Hope and Jean

Courtesy of Marvel.

Exodus, Hope and Destiny find themselves as leaders of the mutants who went through the gates. They didn’t die. But where they are now is quite the mystery. Although all three are written well, I’m somehow drawn most to Exodus. Under Gillen, he’s always been characterized as a crazed religious zealot who would do anything for his faith in Hope, the mutant messiah. I know Gillen wants us to see the irrationality in such religious fanaticism – and I do see that – but as a man of faith myself, I also enjoy the complexity and authenticity that Gillen gives Exodus. His faith isn’t simply crazed fundamentalism, but also a wellspring of hope and heroism.

Anyway, the three not only have to deal with the survival of so many mutants in a mysterious and dangerous desert, they also have to figure out the machinations of Mother Righteous. Gillen also does a wonderful job with her, giving her credible motivations and explaining her rather complicated magical powers. Her evil plot ultimately drives the story and she proves a formidable villain.

Without giving anything away, the evil plot hinges upon Jean Grey and her intrinsic connection to the Phoenix Force. Thus, the second half of this Immortal X-Men collection follows up on the  Jean Grey tie-in miniseries. As a huge fan of the Phoenix Force mythos, I was eager to see what Gillen would do with it. As it turns out, he made one of the best decisions possible. He didn’t try to add anything crazy and ridiculous. Instead, he wove his story around some of the best aspects of the Phoenix mythos created by comics greats who came before – including Chris Claremont and Grant Morrison.

Immortal X-Men Vol. 4 Hope Phoenix

Courtesy of Marvel.

Also, since this is a Kieron Gillen written X-Men series, Mr. Sinister is involved. Actually, Sinister and his goal of becoming a Dominion has been the main thread throughout Immortal X-Men. But it was interesting to see how Gillen has changed Sinister into a more humbled person who’s had to accept that he can never achieve his ultimate goal. Who would’ve imagined that Sinister would be capable of such character growth?

Finally, the conclusion of the series is almost perfectly executed. Gillen brings his main plotline to a climax with a surprising but very exciting and satisfying revelation, truly making this the end of the whole Immortal X-Men series. The pacing and imagery in these final pages are simply amazing – but I really don’t want to reveal too much.

My biggest complaint is the same one I’ve had with many of the more recent X-Men series: although Immortal X-Men as a series ends with this collection, the story does not. The actual conclusion is still to come, both in Rise of the Powers of X as well as X-Men Forever. I understand from the money-making aspect, why Marvel made this decision. But, I just kind of wish a story would start and end in the same series rather than in some newly titled miniseries which might as well be the same series.

In conclusion, Immortal X-Men by Kieron Gillen Vol. 4 is essential reading for fans of the Krakoan Era – not just because of the major plot developments, but simply because it’s a great book. The art is fantastic throughout, despite having three different illustrators. Gillen uses his wonderful character work to reveal an exciting and satisfying twist to the series-spanning plotline. I just wish the story would continue in this series rather than newly titled miniseries.

Cover Crop Immortal X-Men Vol 4
‘Immortal X-Men by Kieron Gillen’ Vol. 4 brings the series to an exciting and satisfying end
Immortal X-Men by Kieron Gillen Vol. 4
Immortal X-Men by Kieron Gillen Vol. 4 is essential reading for fans of the Krakoan Era – not just because of the major plot developments, but simply because it’s a great book. The art is fantastic throughout, despite having three different illustrators. Gillen uses his wonderful character work to reveal an exciting and satisfying twist to the series-spanning plotline. I just wish the story would continue in this series rather than newly titled miniseries.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Satisfying payout of the long running plotline.
Great character work.
Really good art, despite three different artists.
Not a standalone story arc.
Not the end of the story.
9
Great

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