Thursday, May 28, 2015

X-Men '92 Infinite Comic #1 review

*Click here for obvious yet appropriate music*

As someone who was born in 1985, I absolutely loved the X-Men animated series back when I was growing up. It doesn't hold up all that well now, but when it originally aired, it was a total blast and left me feeling in love with the X-Men and their mythos. It was fun, colorful, and embraced the mutant team's world with open arms. In fact, this cartoon - along with the Spider-Man and Batman animated series - is the reason I became interested in comics. So, when it was announced that X-Men '92 would be one of Marvel's Secret Wars titles, I was beyond excited. There's plenty of lighthearted titles out there for readers to enjoy, but nostalgia is such a powerful force and the thought of returning to this universe filled me with joy.

While this first chapter does sort of feel like "X-Men '92 and Secret Wars 101", it does also feel like it's made by people who have a lot of love for the animated series, as well as the comics. I mean, Jubilee says, "Bang. You're dead!" to Wolverine! How awesome is that? (In case you're unaware, that's totally a nod to the time Gambit defeated Wolvie in the Danger Room and said, "Bang. You dead!") This comic is just a mere $1.99, so honestly, how could any fan of the animated series possibly resist?
Seeing as there's no intro/recap page, co-writers Chris Sims and Chad Bowers have to assume some readers aren't familiar with the former show and have no idea just how much Secret Wars has changed the Marvel universe. That means there's a lot of details they need to dish out. Each character receives a caption that says who they are and what their powers are - an effective way to educate readers and it utilizes the digital format well - but once Robert Kelly enters the picture, that's when things begin to slow down for a heavy dose of exposition. This is why it would have been great to have this stuff covered in a recap page. So, when the comic does take a turn to blatantly teach us about the world these X-Men live in, it does feel more blunt and informative instead of entertaining and natural. It's not "bad," but it does feel like they're just getting some basic facts out of the way before we can get to the good stuff. There is some fan service with one page and they do attempt to give one character more depth, but the latter doesn't really feel all that compelling because it's tough to swallow that it'll actually happen. But hey, maybe they'll make me eat my words!

The way the co-writers begin the story feels like such a warm welcome to this nostalgic universe. While some may say the dialogue is cheesy and the drama feels forced, I think it's totally fitting considering the show it's based on and that makes this an organic addition to the animated world. It just wouldn't be the animated X-Men without Gambit blatantly hitting on Rogue and getting rejected, Storm loving to monologue as she uses her powers, and Wolverine and Cyclops arguing because they both love Jean. While the second half does slow down a bit too much, the opening is just oozing with happiness and throws you right back into the '90s. Look, I'm not saying you're a coldhearted monster if you don't have fun watching the X-Men play "extreme laser tag," but I do most likely disagree a whole lot with your definition of "fun."With the way these characters are written and the way the scenes play out, I was absolutely hearing the respective voice actors in my heads and all of the sounds the animated series provided for the powers and Sentinels. It's tempting to give this issue an automatic zero out of five stars simply because Cyclops never screams, "JEAN!" but I just have to assume they're saving that for later. That said, Jean Grey does exclaim Scott's first name a few times. Oh yes, I see what you did there, creative team! Oh, and the cliffhanger? That has quite a bit of potential and I was honestly surprised by it. I thought the use of a certain word meant we'd see that villain in the end, but man, I was totally wrong.

Artist Scott Koblish's work has impressed me plenty of times over the past year or so. The way he can change his style to fit any atmosphere is seriously impressive, as is the amount of attention and work he manages to pack into some truly crowded pages. Thanks to the addition of Matt Milla's bright display of colors - which are of course beyond perfect to remind us of the animated series - this is a consistently animated set of visuals that give off the right tone. Part of me hoped it would be a little more similar to the show's style, but their handling of the classic looks and how the characters interact is hugely enjoyable. I really can't get enough of Gambit's dramatic reactions or the body language between Wolverine and Cyclops. And that one page of Jubilee? Priceless. (Trust me, you'll know which one I'm talking about.) The opening sequence is without question the highlight for both the story and visuals. The digital format really thrives in the first half of the book, too. The way characters are eliminated is amusing, as is the way a Sentinel is defeated. Even something simple like Logan putting on his mask is appreciated. This is based on an animated series, so the extra effort to breathe more motion and life into these scenes is definitely appreciated. Any fan of the show is going to adore a specific page of heroes and villains as well. Pure fan service! My only small criticism of the visuals is some of the bigger pages feel like they could have done more with the space. It almost seems like the pages have extra room just so more dialogue can be crammed in there.

It's simple: if you watched the X-Men animated series, you're really going to enjoy this digital comic. The first half is such a fun way to throw us back to the era, and while things do begin to slow down and get a little too focused on exposition and drama, the cliffhanger is really strong and has a great amount of potential. Put on a trench coat and then give this comic a read. (Or just read it. Whatever works for you.) It's a really good time, especially when considering it's only $1.99. Let's hope the creative team does the obvious thing and begins the next issue with a "previously on" recap.

4/5

2 comments:

  1. I guess I'm the odd person because I've watched the X-Men animated series and adored when I was a kid. But being an adult and watching it again made me realize that nostalgia was leading me blind and was such an evil person to be make me like things that were terrible, lol. So, when I read this issue I thought it was articious and awful mostly because it was full-on cheese and seeing Cyclops and Wolverine complain about laser tag was really ridiculous, lol. It really sold the 90's X-Men TAS very well which made me not enjoy at all. I just want add on that I'm 29, so age has nothing to do with me being immune to nostalgia. I just happened to be the few that's just been immunized by it for some reason, lmao.

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