Filed under: Marvel Comics | Tags: dennishopeless, jamiemckelvie, jeangrey, marvel, Xmenseasonone
The renumbering of Kieron Gillen’s Uncanny X-Men was my first real exposure to a proper mutie book, or rather a book about proper muties. Since then I’ve dabbled with Grant Morrison’s X-Men and even made plans to start on Joss Whedon’s Astonishing run. This should probably make me the perfect candidate to get involved with Marvel’s X-Men Season One graphic novel.
The Season One graphic novels are modernised retellings of the existing origin stories of various characters and teams. It’s a well made hardback that reminds me more of a Beano annual than a posh comic hardcover. This is a good thing.
I would be a hypocrite to slate Marvel’s intentions here when I am so vocal about my enduring love for Ultimate Spidey. If a modern updating of other characters, without creating an entire new universe and continuity can act as a stepping stone to get others into the books that’s great and would be considered a job well done.
It could be easily argued however that a great origin story is timeless, and needs no modern trappings to be made relevant. Spidey, X-Men and others find new fans every day and some consider those old stories from Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby to be among the best. They are timeless. Will a comic book that gives every second character hi-tops and an iPhone stand up to the same rigours of time?
X-Men Season One is written by Dennis Hopeless who I am admittedly unfamiliar with. In the past he’s written Legion of Monsters for Marvel, Gearhead for Arcana and Lovestruck for Image. He does a relatively sound job of introducing Jean Grey, whom the book tells its origin story around. There’s an (un)healthy amount of teen angst which should be expected with teenagers going to live and learn at a place like Xavier’s, whilst the rest of the world looks on scornfully.
With my limited X-Men knowledge I wonder just how many pages of storytelling have been smacked into this c.100 page book. Almost certainly the reason for this wonderment is the rushed feeling surrounding the way the complex relationships of the X-Men play out. There are romantic troubles between Jean and Scott, Jean and Warren, Henry and his morals etc. The groundwork for these characters is well laid, but their interactions and developments seem flimsy, and a little too convenient or ‘happy ever after’, particularly Jean and Scott. Of more interest is the X-Men’s growing awareness of themselves as mutants and how they reconcile their own beliefs with that of Xavier’s, Magneto’s and the wider human race.
The art in the book really shines out, but there are a couple of highlights. Most notable of these is The Beast, Mr Hank McCoy. Everything from his physique to his gait is seemingly perfect. I’d imagine him to be an imposing presence in any room, and not just physically. McKelvie’s rendering brings him alive and ensures he owns the panel. Jean Grey is elegant and strong and helps to remind me why I’m glad artists like Jamie are getting work at big publishers like Marvel. It makes me feel good to see a female character drawn like a real woman, and wearing clothes that wouldn’t look out of place when walking to the shops.
Overall this is a nice book. The story is a little rushed, and at times very flimsy. It’s great source material though, and of course it looks great. Purchases of the book also give you a free digital download via the Marvel app.
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