Hanging with the HiX-Men is a series of reviews of Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men comics, sometimes spotlight of a specific scene and eventually do an analysis of each overall arc once it is concluded. It’s what happens when a long-time X-Men fan has his love for the franchise reinvigorated by a beloved writer who has written some of his favourite comics. With that in mind… Welcome to the HiX-Men, hope you survive the experience.
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Pencils by Leinil Francis Yu
Inks by Gerry Alanguilan
Colours by Sunny Gho
Letters by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics
Cover price: $4.99 USD
After the complex worldbuilding of House of X and Powers of X, it would be easy to assume that Jonathan Hickman would dive right into a meaty story with his first X-Men ongoing, to take advantage of this new world he’s constructed. However, X-Men #1 is a slower burn than expected, instead acting as a breather after House of X and Powers of X, as well as setup for things to come, although it is let down by its art.
X-Men #1 takes place some time after the events of House of X and Powers of X, as we follow Cyclops as he cleans up the remnants of the Orchis organisation. What follows is a Summers family (and Wolverine) dinner where characters let their hair down before the story cuts to what’s left of Orchis as they recover from the X-Men attacks on them
Hickman’s story is wonderfully ominous in all things, while giving a good sense of character. His characters all feel distinct and like they fill a different role, something that is expertly showcased during the Summers Family (and Wolverine) family dinner. His actual story plays off the moral ambiguity of House of X and Powers of X very well, while simultaneously giving it a face in the form of Cyclops. The ominous, disconnected and foreboding story is firmly grounded due to using him as the centrepiece, and the various plot threads established feel like a natural extension of Hickman’s prior X-Men work, and the very human characters of Orchis keep them from being cackling supervillains.
The dialogue is Hickman’s usual blend of ominous, epic and smart. While there are moments where the grandeur of Hickman’s dialogue feels a bit too disconnected from human emotion and too concerned with being epic, Hickman is able to provide some levity with some funny moments that work with the characters, and even poke fun at his own writing at times. Characters sound like they should, even with Hickman’s very verbose dialogue — although only some are able to convey personality through their dialogue, and these characters tend to be the ones who aren’t talking like they’re narrating the comic themselves.
Leinil Francis Yu’s pencils have always been a mixed bag, and that’s no less the case here. While there are moments where Yu delivers some excellent work, like an excellently blocked action scene early in the issue and some fun character moments later on, much of his characters come off as stoic, their emotions being ambiguous. This ambiguity makes Hickman’s script really difficult to read in places as the art muddles the meaning of many panels, seemingly unintentionally. While it’s not too much of a problem for the comic as a whole, some important moments read a bit strangely.
Sunny Gho’s colouring similarly is not easy on the eyes or Hickman’s script. The first half of the comic has figures often blending into the background, and given that these are the most visually complex scenes, it is very problematic — especially when Hickman’s script is already difficult to read through Yu’s bland expressions. While Gho’s colours are somewhat appropriate for the sci-fi nature of Hickman’s writing, using very pastel shades that lend a otherworldly tone to the comic, at times images blend together and become washed out. Surprisingly, the more traditional palettes do a much better job of accentuating Hickman’s script, as they are just non-intrusive.
X-Men #1 is a great comic, one that builds off House of X and Powers of X and adds a stronger sense of character and moral ambiguity. Unfortunately, it’s let down by its art, despite some decent moments here and there. Here’s hoping the art team find their footing and X-Men is able to deliver on all fronts next time.
3.5/5 – Good
No scene spotlight because, honestly, I can’t think of one. The opening scene with Xavier and Cyclops, but there wasn’t much to that aside from liking the first page and the dialogue. Part of the problem is I usually like the scene to be good in terms of both writing and art, which just isn’t the case with that scene, even if it has some decent art.
This is a very late post. I’ve gotten kinda burned out on blogging, but I do still intend to do it. The Hanging with the HiX-Men stuff is weird because I really don’t know how I’m going to tackle the first arc of Hickman’s run. The upcoming stuff not written by him I’m checking out, but I’m not sure if I’ll include them under Hanging with the HiX-Men or not.
With that in mind, see you next time, either for Marauders #1 or New Mutants #1!