- Posted by Johanna on February 21, 2008 at 7:22 am
- Category: Superhero Reviews
- CREDITS: written by Jeff Parker; pencils by Roger Cruz; inks by Victor Olazaba
- PUBLISHER: Marvel; $19.99 US
Jeff Parker has accomplished something I thought impossible: he’s made the X-Men fresh again. His back-to-basics approach takes the original team, teenagers with amazing abilities under the guidance of teacher Professor Xavier, and teases out stand-alone stories that remind the reader just why these characters have lasted so long.
At their core, they represent all teens: feeling different from everyone else, with abilities that are new or frightening, needing guidance but wanting so badly to be treated like an adult, seeking to make a difference and figure out one’s path in life. Parker doesn’t forget the adventure that makes them fun to read about. There are huge amounts of imagination on display here, ably illustrated by penciler Roger Cruz and inker Victor Olazaba.
X-Men: First Class: Tomorrow’s Brightest collects the eight-issue miniseries that preceded the current comic run. The stories are great balances of insight into individual characters and good amounts of humor, too. That’s another of Parker’s skills: not allowing any of this to get too serious. There are plenty of superhero comics that wallow in misery or depression. This one allows its heroes to make a difference and have fun doing it. Plus, underneath the stories, there are reminders of good messages, like not jumping to conclusions about those different from you.
The personalities are a great mix, diverse, with distinct voices: Hank (Beast), super-strong and fast but also a brain, which makes it difficult for him to put up with goofballs like Bobby (Iceman); Warren (Angel), rich and aloof, escaping when he can to fly; Scott (Cyclops), the leader who’s considered stiff, restricted by the burden of responsibility; and Jean (Marvel Girl), the token female, the catalyst for many of the boys’ reactions but strong and independent, too. From current comics, these are the characters closest to those in the movies, a bonus for those looking to cross media for more excitement.
The stories aren’t really the point — whether the team fights an alien intelligence disguised as a giant rosebush or helps capture the Lizard while on vacation or meets Dr. Strange or Thor — it’s watching these kids learn to work together, to trust each other, to solve problems with big impacts. (Although it’s great that Parker remembers that superhero comics need a certain amount of action that’s visually interesting in order to see the powers.) It’s what superhero comics at their best are all about.
Find out more at Jeff Parker’s website.