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Marvel's new X-Men #1 shows off what the From the Ashes future for the franchise really looks like in action

Hated, feared, and a new status quo that feels curiously familiar, the X-Men are back with only cosmetic changes

The release of X-Men #1 by Jed McKay and Ryan Stegman (with J.P. Meyer, Marte Gracia, and Clayton Cowles) marks the official launch of X-Men: From the Ashes, the full-scale relaunch of Marvel’s mutant comic book line after the conclusion of the five-year-long Krakoan era that redefined the characters for a generation. After months of teases, previews, and assorted hype, fans now have a chance to see what the future of the X-Men looks like for themselves… and, based on this issue, it’s something that looks a lot like the past of the X-Men.

Spoilers for X-Men #1 follow. Do not read further unless you want to have the first full issue of X-Men: From the Ashes spoiled for you; we’ve given you the warning, it’s up to you if you heed it, humans.

The strangest feeling about X-Men #1, “Fire-Baptized Species,” is how familiar it all seems. By that, I don’t just mean that the series is a purposeful quasi-return to the status quo of the X-Men concept as published for the first five or so decades of its existence — for all the aesthetic similarity From The Ashes as a whole seems to have with the 1990s heyday of the X-Men, this series in particular feels like it’s leaning heavily on Grant Morrison’s early 2000s makeover of the group — but the way in which the issue reads very much like the preview stories for the From the Ashes reboot we’ve already seen in the Free Comic Book Day issue or June’s X-Men #35. Despite this being the first actual full issue of the new line, it still feels very much like a preview that’s teasing out future stories and developments, instead of telling a story in its own right.

Part of that comes from the fact that so much of the real estate of the issue is taken up by world-building: we’re introduced to the new headquarters of this team of X-Men, as the Beast takes the local police chief on a tour and spends half the issue on exposition that nonetheless manages to miss a core point only made clear in the letters page essay from writer McKay. “Some mutants have reintegrated back into the human world” post-Krakoa, he writes, adding that this series is about “the ones who can’t, won’t, go back.” That’s not actually clear from the story itself, which is a shame; it’d add definition to what otherwise feels like an X-Men team that exists to do X-Men things for X-Men reasons with little other context in the other half of the issue: they’re rescuing mutants from a generic shadowy organization, only all is not as it seems — but readers are given neither closure nor any real explanation about what’s happening, instead, it’s left as plot fodder for future issues. Which, to be fair, is a very familiar feeling for anyone who read the X-Men in the 1990s.

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Graeme McMillan

Graeme McMillan: Popverse Editor Graeme McMillan (he/him) has been writing about comics, culture, and comics culture on the internet for close to two decades at this point, which is terrifying to admit. He completely understands if you have problems understanding his accent.


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