(Marvel Comics, 2013)
Review by Shawn Warner
Written & Artwork by Brahm Revel
Color Artwork by Christiane Peter
Do you need a break from all the time traveling, crossed over and tied-in big event stories in the X-Books? Well Marvel Knights- X-Men may be just the cure for what ails you. From the very first page of this book it is quite apparent that this is not the same X-Men fare that we are getting in the other X-titles. This is a much smaller, more intimate story set in a grittier locale with a tighter cast of principle characters. All of these new Marvel Knights titles seem to exist singularly away from the grand scheme of things in the 616 which suggests a separate continuity.
Brahm Revel, writer and artist of “Guerrillas” at Oni Press does one heck of a job on this book. He has set the bar extremely high with some great writing particularly his spot on dialogue and ability to nail the voices of Wolverine, Kitty Pryde and Rogue with surgical accuracy from the very start but it is Revel’s magnificently moody artwork that knocks this one clear out of the park. Along with Christine Peter’s on colors, Revel captures the down and dirty atmosphere of the tiny backwoods town where the narrative is set with masterful use of shading; the shadows almost creep across the page casting an uneasy sense of foreboding over the entire issue. There’s a real “True Blood” feel to the setting and Peter’s muted earth tones work so well in getting that swampy small town atmosphere to come to life. Revel’s dynamic portrayal of anatomy and kinetic action choreography create an electric energy that propels you through the pages.
The story centers on Wolverine, Kitty and Rogue as they take a road trip to a Podunk town where there is an inordinate amount missing children believed to be mutants. The trio of X-Men head out to locate these kids and put a stop to whatever foul play is going on, Wolverine is especially impassioned and eager to get down to business. Upon their arrival they are met immediately with hostility, before encountering the first mutant child Wolverine is confronted by a gang of bikers and it’s all out pandemonium from there. Revel paces this story extremely well weaving in equal parts intrigue, wit and full throttle action. All the exciting X-Men tropes are there but this book doesn’t look or read like any other X-Men comic book currently on the racks, it bristles with a unique energy that is wholly derived from Revel’s innovative and dynamic storytelling. While Revel focuses on characterization over continuity inclusion he still maintains a connection to the current rivalry between Wolverine and Cyclops’ opposing philosophies which lends this narrative a degree of urgency.
I’ve been quite pleased with this newly imagined Marvel Knights line, the Matt Kindt MK-Spider-Man title being the other book I have had the pleasure of reading and the MK-Incredible Hulk being one I am looking forward to. If Marvel maintains this level of quality and the more indy sensibilities of these current offerings, I’m sure this incarnation of Marvel Knights will be a successful and critically acclaimed endeavor.
Marvel Knights- X-Men #1 showcases Brahm Revel’s engaging characterizations, engrossing narrative and dynamic artwork. His straight forward style of storytelling is a refreshing change from the complicated continuity obsessed bloated stories that many mainstream comics are bogged down with these days. I thoroughly enjoyed this first issue and look forward the remaining four; hopefully this mini-series will spawn a monthly featuring the same creative team. If you are looking for another large scale, blockbuster X-Men book full of displaced teams from the past and a cast of too many characters to count, this is not the book you are looking for but, if you want a moody story with lots of heart and a cast you can get to know intimately, not to mention count on one hand, give this book a shot, I think you will like it. I love the big, multi-book cross overs and events as much as the next guy, take a look at my pull list sometime if you don’t believe me, but there is room in the Marvel U for all of these stories to be told, the big and the small. (4.5/5)
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