Tuesday, July 1, 2008

AMAZING X-MEN #1 – March 1995

The Crossing Guards

Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Andy Kubert (penciler), Matt Ryan (inker), Kevin Somers & Digital Chameleon (colorists), Richard Starkings/Comicraft (lettering)


Summary

In Maine, Copycat spies on the humans heading towards a harbor town. She reports to the other members of Apocalypse’s Brotherhood that the humans are expecting to escape. Meanwhile, the remaining X-Men (Quicksilver, Storm, Banshee, Exodus, Dazzler, and Iceman) train against a Sentinel while the rest of the team faces Apocalypse’s men in Chicago. The team’s preparing to help the Sentinel evacuation of the humans in Maine. Quicksilver practices installing a virus disc that will prevent the Sentinels from targeting them. Magneto appears, warning the team to be ready to face Apocalypse’s forces in Maine. He anticipates that the Sentinels will focus only on Apocalypse’s men after the disc is loaded into the Sentinels’ neural network. Iceman prepares to use his powers to send the team to Maine, but Magneto asks Exodus to try teleporting for the first time. The team arrives in Maine, where Storm promptly uses her powers to obscure the Sentinels’ arrival on Apocalypse’s radar. The Sentinels land, and immediately detect nearby mutants. While Dazzler creates holograms to distract them, Quicksilver loads the virus disc. The Sentinels announce that the mutants aren’t targets, but still attack Iceman when they see him. Quicksilver theorizes that the program did work, but it’s now protecting the wrong mutants. The Brotherhood appears, bragging that they were the ones who scrambled the disc.


Review

This is the strongest of the AoA issues so far. Andy Kubert’s pencils look remarkable, creating one of his best renditions of Magneto yet. He also does a great job with the redesigned Sentinels and Iceman. This is another issue that requires him to draw dozens of characters, but he keeps a consistent level of quality for most of the issue. Nicieza’s script is able to give the main characters firm personalities, while also presenting a villain like Copycat in a sympathetic light. The idea that the humans would be scared out of their minds of the Sentinels sent to rescue them is another nice touch that adds an additional layer of realism to the story. Rather than spending too much time on the setup, the story moves at a decent pace and concludes with a nice twist ending. The narration is excessively grim, but it suits the new world and doesn’t go overboard like some of Nicieza’s previous work.


Despite Marvel’s hard sell on this new world, there were always doubts that it would just turn out to be an extended What If? story. Nicieza at least tries to make the new world relevant by laying the groundwork for future stories that can be told in the original continuity. Showcasing several new powers for Iceman connects the AoA to the ongoing subplot about his true potential. Dazzler is given a power upgrade that also could’ve been carried over to the original reality. Exodus, a barely developed mystery man in the original continuity, at least has his first name (“Paris”) revealed here, which is more information than his original appearances gave. Unfortunately, Nicieza doesn’t last very long on the X-titles after the AoA and most of the hints dropped here don’t amount to anything. It’s still an admirable effort, though.


LINK – An interesting online conversation between Peter David and Fabian Nicieza that occurred after Marvel’s first cryptic press release hyping the AoA event was released.

4 comments:

Jeff said...

Yeah, this is my favorite of the AoA series. The art and writing are just top notch and it feels like a lot of the biggest events in the storyline happen in this one. I liked Astonishing X-Men as well, but overall this one just sells the new universe better and seems more momentous.

I'd just like to take this time to say also, that while I know he's had some hickups here and there, I feel in general Nicieza did stronger work on the X-books then Lobdell was doing at the time. Lobdell seemed to do way too many quiet issues and his villains were extremely forgettable. Mike Carey is on record as being a fan of Nicieza's stuff and I was surprised by how much he is referencing it these days in X-Men: Legacy. It's pretty much a direct sequel to the stuff Nicieza set up.

Anyway, that's just my two cents.

Matt said...

I actually seem to recall reading somewhere that Carey was Nicieza's assistant when he was an editor at Marvel.

And I, too, am a huge fan of Fabian Nicieza on pretty much anything he writes. I can't get over how Marvel has unceremoniously canned him from Thunderbolts -- Twice!! Every time a creative team leaves an X-Book these days, I cross my fingers that he'll be announced as the new writer... But it never comes to pass.

rob said...

Love this one. Kubert's art is excellent, sleek, perfect to depict this new world. I agree with the potential for the cast. When this first came out, I thought Astonishing had the "cooler" cast, but this one a lot more potential.

I also love Nicieza. I used to think Lobdell was my favourite, but rereading things, Nicieza's plotting comes out on top. This becomes even clearer with the disaster of Lobdell taking over both books after he leaves. And I also must throw in my love for Thunderbolts, especially his first run. The long-term, complex plotting was incredibly impressive. And the characterization also rocked.

Fnord Serious said...

While Nicieza's X-Men never really did much for me, I'll throw in with some love for his work. His work on New Warriors remains one of my favorite runs from the 90's.

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