X-Men: First Class: Tomorrow’s Brightest

X-Men: First Class: Tomorrows Brightest cover
X-Men: First Class:
Tomorrow’s Brightest
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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.

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5 Responses to “X-Men: First Class: Tomorrow’s Brightest”

  1. Dan Grendell Says:

    This book has been consistently great since it launched as an eight-part mini-series, and didn’t skip a beat going to an ongoing. If anything, it got better when it gained back-ups with Colleen Coover’s adorable art. Jeff Parker has been a writer to watch for me since I first noticed him on Marvel Adventures: Avengers, and he just keeps getting better.

  2. James Schee Says:

    I keep meaning to try this series. I used to love the X-Men but just got sort of burned out on it. Yet if it can make an… experienced(?)reader like you look at the series in a fresh way. Then it must be something to check out.

  3. Hey! I’m on a Heroes Panel! » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] planning to do there. (Current to do list: Say hi to friends; Get Jeff Parker to sign my X-Men First Class book. I’m sure there will be more items to [...]

  4. My Subscription Standings, or Why I Don’t Read More Superheroes » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] cancelled. The latest victim is Blue Beetle, which Dan Didio confirmed has been cancelled. Since X-Men: First Class ended, that leaves me reading Marvel’s maxiseries The Twelve… and nothing [...]

  5. Agents of Atlas » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] in any of its incarnations. It’s written by Jeff Parker, whose work — The Interman, X-Men: First Class, Mysterius, Underground — I’ve been enjoying for years. And it’s a quirky [...]

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