Overview

X-Men: Deadly Genesis #1

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X-Men: Deadly Genesis #1

Credits

  • Words: Ed Brubaker
  • Art: Trevor Hairsine
  • Inks: Kris Justice
  • Colors: Val Staples
  • Story Title: Deadly Genesis, Part 1
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Nov 16, 2005

In the wake of the most cataclysmic event in the history of mutantkind, The X-Men face new challenges—Sentinels, a vengeful new enemy, and a dark secret Charles Xavier has been hiding for 30 years.

Still reeling from the disappearance of the mutant X-gene from over a million of their kind, The X-Men must now deal with Sentinels on their front lawn. But high above them, a Space Shuttle mission goes horribly wrong when an Omega-level mutant makes his presence known. On Earth, Emma Frost detects the mutant with the help of Cerebra and is knocked unconscious in the process, but not before passing the residual image of the shuttle to Kitty Pryde. Cyclops, Wolverine, and Rachel fly off to investigate, but back at the mansion, the other X-Men begin having strange visions. When the field team lands at the crash site, they find the Shuttle, and a cave, where the visions affect them as well. The strange and powerful being who has drawn them in has an ax to grind, but who is he? Why does he seek vengeance? And what connection does he have to the terrible secret Charles Xavier has been hiding since he formed the New X-Men?

Though no doubt a major event in comics, because of its glaring flaws (an anemic plot and constipated pacing), House of M already seems more a prelude to Decimation than a series that stands on its own, more a first act than a whole play. Indeed, while none of them have shaken things up nearly as much, the Decimation titles released in the last week have already had more plot points and big-picture story developments than their prelude, and have also been quite solid reads that open up any number of narrative possibilities. With X-Men: Deadly Genesis #1, Decimation shifts into high gear as The X-Men face threats from without and within, both of them consequences of thus far unknown choices made long ago.

Ed Brubaker’s work for Marvel has a long way to go before it can be favorably compared to the gritty, hard-edged stories he produced for the Distinguished Competition (Scene of a Crime, Sleeper, Gotham Central, Catwoman), but in terms of story content and theme, there’s much to like in his script. Beast wondering where all that mutant energy went (expanding on a similar question of Hank Pym’s in HoM #8) is a skillful introduction to our new villain. Equally well-played is the villain’s identity, a mystery that will surely be one of the engines driving this story. Given the clues, it’s easy to speculate on who he might be. However, the clues are too neat, and I’m guessing that Brubaker is going for the old misdirection play, primarily because the biggest mystery is Charles Xavier, both his whereabouts and his secret. He’s been The X-Men’s guiding hand for 40 years, but with the developments in Astonishing X-Men, his place in The Illuminati, and now the revelation that he has a dark secret, he’s never been a more compelling character than he is now. Complex, moral ambiguity has always been at the heart of Brubaker’s style, so it’s hard to think of a writer better suited for exposing Xavier for what he really is, for better or worse. And with Brubaker at the helm, I’m expecting it to get much, much worse.

In terms of technique, Brubaker sets a brisk pace, manages a number of very different scenes with agility, then cuts those scenes on just the right beat. And because he’s solid on these nuts-and-bolts issues, the emotional notes have all the clarity and punch they should have. There’s the tension between Emma Frost and Kitty Pryde, Kurt’s horrifying walk through the forest, Sean’s vision of Moira. Together, these moments set the emotional tone of what’s sure to be a series of harrowing shocks and surprises.

Trevor Hairsine’s dark, brooding artwork couldn’t be a better fit for Brubaker’s story. Every character seems haunted, two steps ahead of a shadow they dare not turn to see. And in their visions, whether zombified or merely ghostly, Hairsine communicates that sense of loss that’s always been the price The X-Men have paid for following Xavier’s path despite all the evils they’ve thwarted. That sort of weight takes a toll that some pretty deft linework captures cinematically. Scott Summers bears it all until he’s bested, Wolverine looks absolutely feral, and the frazzled hair on the female characters, particularly Emma Frost and Moira, are nice touches. Also, while I thought Hairsine’s Kitty Pryde looked uncharacteristically old, on re-reading I found myself liking her depicted more as an adult than like an older teen. And the horror in her eyes when she sees Piotr as a zombie—one of the best panels in a book with two or three great shots—will stay with the reader for a while after the issue is finished.

With dead-on writing and locked-in art, X-Men: Deadly Genesis #1 is not only one of Decimation’s must-reads, but a frightening picture of how dangerous a world significantly without mutants can be.

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