REVIEW: “Amazing X-Men” #1

(Marvel Comics, 2013)

Review by Shawn Warner

Written by: Jason Aaron
Pencils by: Ed McGuiness
Inks by: Dexter Vines
Color Art by: Marte Gracia

When I initially heard of Amazing X-Men my first thought was, can I afford another monthly X-Book at $3.99? Then I found out that Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness were at the helm and my question became, can I afford not to get this book? After reading the first issue any lingering doubts I may have had have been unequivocally put to rest. This book is pure fun; from the first page to the last I was engrossed in the narrative and thoroughly entertained. Now I know there are a lot of Marvel readers out there who feel another X-Men title may be pushing the limits, even for the company’s most lucrative franchise. However this book had many elements in the plus column from its inception, first you have Jason Aaron, a fan favorite writer with not only a proven track record at Marvel but he is already writing a successful X-Men comic book, then you have Ed McGuinness, hands down one of the best super hero artists in the business with a dynamic and recognizable style that readily lends itself to these characters and finally add to all of this an opening story arc that returns a much loved and missed character to continuity and the result is one of the best first issues since the start of Marvel Now.

Amazing X-Men is in many ways a companion book to Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men the separating distinction is a matter of perspective, both books deal largely with events transpiring at the Jean Grey School, however where Wolverine and the X-Men primarily centers on the student body of the school, Amazing X-Men seems to shift the focus to the faculty which gives it a smaller cast and the opportunity to tell stories with a more classic tone. With the arrival of Amazing X-Men Marvel now has the ability to allow Aaron to tell bigger stories that would span both titles in essence eliminating the need for either book to double ship in a given month.

The opening arc finds Nightcrawler in the idyllic setting of Heaven, portrayed as it is understood by most Catholics with lush peaceful valleys, unending waterfalls and white cloaked inhabitants. You can almost hear the angelic choirs before Nightcrawler’s tranquil reverie is broken by a band of marauding pirate demons. Aaron makes no attempt to explain or even recount Nightcrawler’s death in this issue; instead he goes right into swashbuckling action as the demonic scalawags are so joined by their pirate-lord who just happens to be Nightcrawler’s father, Azazel surrounded by a gaggle of little, red-skinned Bamfs. Aaron uses the tiny demonic Bamfs to tie his narrative together, joining the heavenly world of Nightcrawler to the Jean Grey School in a mystery concerning Hank McCoy’s coffee maker, just one of the many lighter, comedic turns in this book that keep it from becoming oppressively dramatic. A lavishly illustrated battle ensues between father and son the likes of which have not been seen since that Skywalker boy faced his father in a heated light saber mêlée.

Amazing X-Men allows Aaron to explore the lighter side of the Marvel Universe, using humorous circumstances, witty dialogue and comedic interactions between characters that are usually more stern and serious, not to the degree of being silly but introducing just enough levity to allow us a glimpse of these characters with their guard down. The X-Books as a whole have been incredibly satisfying since Marvel Now began, each title has its own strengths and emotions, Amazing X-Men brings that sense of wide-eyed adventure and high-flying fantasy making it a more whimsical and fun book then we have seen from the other X-Titles. The discovery and exploration of the staff at the Jean Grey School and their interactions and relationships with one another will provide enough material to keep this series going for quite some time while simultaneously allowing Wolverine and the X-Men to do the same thing with the students of the school. That, I believe is the main asset of having a second book by Aaron and that shift in perspective is what will keep interest in both books.

Visually, Ed McGuinness is the perfect counterpart to Nick Bradshaw giving both of these books a synergy without looking too similar. McGuiness’ work is meticulous, his lines are super crisp and clean, and his anatomy is just stylized and exaggerated enough to capture that true super hero dynamic which he excels at so much. The action sequences flow with a kinetic elegance that borders on the poetic. McGuiness shines on this first issue proving he is the perfect choice for this book, I only hope he sticks around for a while after the opening story arc.

I loved this book even more than I loved Brian Wood’s first issue of X-Men, and that’s saying something because that book was gold. Amazing X-Men has everything you read comic books for, great action, compelling story and characters you know and love getting into and out of tight situations all brought to life through the magic of phenomenal artwork. It’s all in this one friends; Amazing X-Men #1 is a perfect first issue 5/5. I know it’s a lot to ask, adding yet another monthly X-men title to your pull list but don’t miss out on all the fun, drop something you might not be enjoying as much as you used to and add Amazing X-Men, you won’t be sorry. So until next time, see ya at the comic book store.

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Follow Shawn Warner on Twitter:  @shawnwarner629

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