Jonathan Hickman follows up his epic House of X/Powers of X series with a strong opening to Marvel’s Dawn of X relaunch. The X-Men, and mutantkind as a whole, have entered a new era of prosperity and looming threats. Focusing on X-Men captain Cyclops, Hickman’s relaunched X-Men title is a solid follow-up to Hickman’s weekly lead in series.
X-Men #1 builds on the big ideas Hickman presented in House of X/Powers of X, introducing more wondrous bio-technical innovations from Krakoa. From ways to clean eating utensils to the colonization of other celestial bodies, Hickman just keeps pumping out new high concepts to enrich the X-Men’s already captivating new status quo. What sets this series apart from House of X/Powers of X is Hickman’s exploration of an individual character, which largely dominates this debut issue.
Hickman uses the first issue of X-Men to present mutant kind’s new status quo from a more personal perspective. House of X/Powers of X was a big picture story that focused on the architects of Krakoa, whereas X-Men #1 is about what that status quo can mean to an individual character – in this case, longtime X-Men leader Cyclops (Scott Summers). As shown in the issue’s opening pages, Scott Summers has been with Xavier since the beginning. Being reminded of all the pain Scott’s endured as a result of his devotion to Xavier’s cause, the promise of Krokoa is so much more powerful. Using symbols and dialogue to reference all the heartache Scott Summers has suffered in his time as an X-Man, Hickman creates a character driven opening to his new series that adds a lot of emotional depth the the world building of House of/Powers of X.
Orchis, the anti-mutant organization introduced in House of X/Powers of X continues their operation against the new mutant nation. Hickman uses the organization’s presence to remind readers that, despite the wonderful innovations made by mutants, they will always be in humanity’s cross-hairs. The battle for the dominion over the earth is just heating up, and based on the events that transpire in X-Men #1, things are about to get much worse as Orchis continues to use their technology to rival mutantkind. Using Cyclops as the central character and the Summers clan family gathering as the narrative’s backbone, Hickman allows the readers to emotionally invest in the looming species war. The stakes were high in House of X/Powers of X, but after reading X-Men #1 they seem far more real.
I do have one gripe with this comic. Hickman is strong when it comes to plotting, but not all the small character moments work in X-Men #1 due to some weak dialogue. There are scenes where Hickman attempts to write humorous conversations between characters, and it just doesn’t work. The dialogue comes off as somewhat stilted and not at all funny. Even thought Hickman’s writing doesn’t always work in X-Men #1, this comic looks great from beginning till end.
Lenil Francis Yu’s artwork is good. He can draw explosive action, small character moments, and render Hickman’s high concept ideas with great skill. I’d argue that he’s the perfect fit for Hickman and this series, being able to depict every element with precision and effectiveness. Yu also knows how to use lighting to create a mood for a scene, which is evident in Cyclops’ conversation with his father, Corsair.
X-Men #1 is not a perfect series debut, but it’s still a solid follow-up to Hickman’s groundbreaking re-imagining of the X-Men’s world. I can’t wait to see what the entire Dawn of X line-up has in store for readers.