Brian Wood isn’t a stranger to writing the X-Men, or the X-Women for that matter, having penned both Ultimate Comics X-Men and the second volume of X-Men fairly recently. Whilst I can’t comment on his Ultimate work, I did find his Adjectiveless run interesting if a little underwhelming. I was however, excited by the prospect of having a book written by him which featured a cast of strong female X-Men, or X-Women if you will. There was a lot of forum chatter and sniping back and forth regarding the book’s title and this feminist has made no secret, on Mutant A Day and X-Nation among other places, that he thinks the book should be titled X-Women, and that doing so isn’t a misogynistic slight on the seven females who will make up this cast. Anyway, I was really excited to read this book. More excited than I can remember being over a comic book – I actually couldn’t sleep from excitement the night prior to the release of the book.
Brian Wood writes a brilliant story in this issue. Essentially the all-female team serendipitously are called together to help Jubilee come back into the fold. She is travelling back from Eastern Europe (with a baby in her backpack!) and she knows to call her mutant family when she discovers she’s being followed. Wolverine essentially raised this girl – she’s no slouch! Add to this an action set piece on a runaway train and you have the makings of a thrilling read.
Wood doesn’t just rely on action to sell the issue though. One of the best moments is with a tense psychic interrogation. The section made me appreciate Psylocke in a way I hadn’t in a very long time and with some of the other character interactions in this book you really get a sense that the women have known each other for a very long time – and as someone who likes to pretend X-Men is really happening, this is great stuff!
There are some problems with the issue though. I’m unsure, if with the all-female cast, if Wood is going for a feminist angle or some commentary on the female superhero. The introductory narration boxes suggest so, but the team is just pulled together without any commentary on why these women. Were they just in the right place at the wrong time and put to work? It feels nit-picky and I hope that Wood will, in this arc, give a reason why this female team works and should stay together.
There is a huge focus on Jubilee, which is probably important to Wood as, other than the final X-Woman revealed on the last page of the issue, she’s the only team member who isn’t also appearing in the pages of another X-Book. It’s clear that Wood wants to make his mark with this character – and he does a great job, even if there isn’t any mention of her previous arc with her vampire team, The Forsaken. Again, like the reason why these ladies are hanging out and kicking ass, it might come in a future issue.
The art is one thing that is incredible though. These are iconic X-Women and Olivier Coipel draws them as such. There are awesome panels of the entire cast in great high fashion poses, which in my opinion, never feel exploitative that they might if they were drawn by Paco Medina, for example. Coipel’s Jubilee is sublime (pun not intended) and throughout the issue he does amazing things in the subtlety of the women’s facial expressions that add immensely to the storytelling.
Marvel Now has been a stellar success so far in my opinion, and this latest edition to Marvel’s endeavour is perhaps one of the best entries in the line thus far. Add this to Uncanny X-Men, All-New X-Men, and Wolverine and the X-Men and you’ve got the best core four books to grace the X-Line in a very, very long time. This book will sell out – make sure you pick it up!
Rating: 10 out of 10 (Excellent)