Writers: Kelly Thompson, Ed Brisson, Matthew Rosenberg // Artist: Mahmud Asrar // Publisher: Marvel
The big number in white on black may say “1,” but the real heads know this is “Uncanny X-Men” #620. Classic font. Blue. Blue and Yellow. (Red and Yellow for you Variant Cover holders)
Make no mistake, the beginning of this 10-part “Disassembled” is a “come on home again” call to X-fans frothing at the mouth for a proper X-Men flagship title. For a brand new X-Men fan, the 20 deep cast of X-Men plus appearances by some forgotten foes, and at least three interweaving plot threads will not make for the best introduction to the series. For that, check out Ed Piskor’s brilliant history/remix project “X-Men Grand Design.” This relaunch issue, though is a behemoth – a double sized main story and a four part back up story about the days leading up to the main story. So many mutants, so many pages, and a lot of story . . .Let’s talk about it.
“Where’s Kitty Pryde?”
Jamie Madrox aka Multiple Man and his many selves are running amok and no one can comprehend why. His frenzied search and scattered thoughts alert Jean, but even she cannot see what lays in store. While taking a group of young X-Men on a small mission to stop an attack on a lab facility, Kitty suddenly vanishes; simultaneously, her triggering her phasing ability is triggered, causing the Blackbird to crash and injuring young mutants Oya and Anole. Still reeling from the crash, the younger X-Men are confronted by a new iteration of the 90’s throwback group The Mutant Liberation Front (MLF). Led by Wildside and some disposable D-list henchmen, they shame the younger X-Men by explaining that the lab the X-Men are trying to protect manufactures a vaccine to erase the X-gene before it manifests. Meanwhile, Storm and Beast and investigate strange climate events as Kalahari desert in Botswana experiences a rainfall that produces a lake and new organic life in three days time.
Another group of X-Men led by Jean Grey are dispatched at the press conference of Senator Ashton Allen(“Another politician. Another speech”), announcing the manufacture of the X-gene suppressing vaccine. Before Jean can speak to the public on behalf of the X-Men in Kitty’s absence, Madrox and his duplicates crash the event. Pleading that he is only trying to help and the X-Men are the ones in the wrong, he can offer no real explanation. Before either of Multiple Man or the X-Men can “save” the Senator, he vanishes just as Kitty Pryde.
The X-Men really need to learn to stay away from political gatherings, marches, and all gatherings of tiki torch style bigotry. More often than not, the X-Men will try to help, but are framed and scapegoated without fail. X-Men Red literally just had the same plot device where Jean was accused of attacking as a result of manipulation by Xavier’s evil sister Cassandra Nova. But I digress . . .
The four-part back up story “What Tomorrow Brings” sheds some reality-bent light on the main story of issue one. Part One follows Bishop as he goes full-time detective, following leads from his bracelet that tracks time-related anomalies or fractures. His gumshoeing leads him to a hideout of Sugar-Man, a refugee from the Age of Apocalypse timeline who was an overseer of the human work camps.
The former cronie of Apocalypse remembers the X-Man of course, but Bishop’s memory was wiped of the AoA timeline. Before Bishop can get any answers, he is knocked unconscious. Sugar Man is ripped in two by the time he awakens. In Part Two, younger X-Men Armor and Anole are sent to investigate the sewers, only to find another AOA refugee running for his life – Dark Beast. Next, Storm and Jean’s attempt at a normal coffee and chat meetup turns into a brawl as a powerful telepath takes control of the humans to turn them on the X-Men. Realizing his mistake, he withdraws but not without making it known his power rivals that of Jean Grey herself.
Someone or something is coming after a specific group of timeline and reality refugees, but the “Who” may be much less interesting than the “Why?” and “To What End?” The X-lines upcoming titles for January and February hint toward a major event involving fellow AoA refugee Nate Grey, so stick around. This current story arc will be a 10 issue weekly opus leading into something definitely all new and all new different, yet the same. Writers Brisson, Thompson, and Rosenberg collab feels tonally and narratively episodic, so it keeps the plot moving without dragging.
If these Prelude backup stories tell us anything about the upcoming “Disassembled” storyline, it is: A) Every day is a hard day to be an X-Person; B.)Never. Ever. Get comfortable in your own timeline or reality, or anyone else’s for that matter; and C.) Everyone loves the Age of the Apocalypse.
Rating: 6.8 out of 10 Madrox Multiples
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