Age of X-Man: X-Tremists #1, which hits comic book stores today, proves just how much storytelling potential the X-Men side of the Marvel universe still holds. A tie-in that uses its alternate universe setting to a clever advantage, X-Tremists expands on themes that have been associated with the X-Men for years, all while injecting a dose of heart and nuance that feels uniquely fresh.
The first issue of Age of X-Man: X-Tremists follows Jubilee, Iceman, Psylocke, Blob, Northstar, and Moneta, all of whom are part of the seemingly perfect utopia's "Department X". The group essentially serves as a sort of sex police, tracking down mutant targets who have developed relationships with each other, something that has been forbidden in X-Man's brave new world. When a retrieval job suddenly gets much more complicated, Department X is forced to confront what they've been fighting for, and exactly what their place is in this utopia.
Sure, the topic of forbidden love has made its way into a lot of X-Men comics over the years, but the way that it's approached in this debut issue could be the start of something great. The issue almost has a sort of paradox to it, in that it's so uniquely dependant on the circumstances that kickstarted "Age of X-Man", but it can totally be enjoyed with only a passing knowledge of the rest of the event. And while the back half of this issue only starts to dive into the ethics of Department X's situation, it sets up a genuinely compelling conversation about queer love and identity in a more upfront way than most X-Men comics have had in the past.
Even with such a serious subject matter and set-up, X-Tremists has a surprisingly fun sensibility, allowing the group to be the right mix of a well-oiled machine and a band of disastrous misfits. It's abundantly clear that writer Leah Williams has a love for these characters, as their various interpersonal dynamics are what arguably has the most lasting impact. While these might be slightly different interpretations of the characters fans know and love, it's clear that they're their own sort of found family. Whether they're arguing about the schematics of how to handle their circumstance or bickering about the proper way to bake cookies, the team's dynamics feel just lived-in enough to really elevate the overall story.
Williams' narrative is brought to life by art from Georges Jeanty, who ends up being a pretty inspired choice for this book. While some facial expressions end up being just a little too cartoony, his style brings a cool sensibility to the vast majority of the issue. The action sequences, in particular, have a lot of kinetic energy to them, where you really feel each punch and superpower that the team uses. Roberto Poggi's inks add to that sensibility, accenting each panel and motion in a satisfying way.
The colors from Jim Charalampidis almost cleverly represent what the issue is going for -- there are tons of pops of colors that should signify a perfect world, but they have a sort of muted quality that suits the flaws lurking underneath. And VC's Clayton Cowles strikes a similar sort of nuance with his lettering while still having some room to shine with certain diegetic sounds and phrases.
Age of X-Man: X-Tremists hits the ground running in its debut issue, crafting a small-scale X-Men story that says a lot more beyond the surface. The narrative and art strike a balance between intense subject matter and a charming ensemble book, in a way that, by and large, works. While there's no telling exactly where this miniseries is headed, this issue just might be laying the groundwork for a standout X-Men story, one that encapsulates so much of what the team has come to mean to fans.
Published by Marvel Comics
On February 27, 2019
Written by Leah Williams
Pencils by Georges Jeanty
Inks by Roberto Poggi
Colors by Jim Charalampidis
Letters by VC's Clayton Cowles