Immortal X-Men #1 Review: Intrigue Is Afoot in an Exciting and Surprising Debut

Marvel Comics' X-Men line steps firmly into the Destiny of X era with the release of Immortal X-Men #1 from writer Kieron Gillen, artist Lucas Werneck, and colorist David Curiel. Destiny of X marks the next phase of the line, noted by the new shape of Tom Muller's design work, modern X-Men's most consistent visual signature. The Krakoan age grew out of the game-changing revelation that Moira MacTaggert has lived 10 lives, resetting the universe upon each of her deaths. That arc ended with Moira's depowering and flight from Krakoa. Immortal X-Men asks, what if that story was thinking too small? The opening has Mister Sinister and Destiny, two significant players in Krakoa's current status quo, meeting on a park bench in the distant past, an allusion to Moira's meeting with Charles Xavier, which began Jonathan Hickman's X-Men tenure in House of X. But these are the Immortal X-Men; thus, the meeting takes place in 1919, well before Moira met Charles. As Moira did with Xavier, Destiny tells Sinister a secret. The reaction is not what anyone, even the precognitive Destiny, expects.

Gillen isn't a stranger to the X-Men line. In the early 2010s, he wrote Generation Hope, following the "mutant messiah," Hope Summers. Gillen also wrote the final issues of the original volume of Uncanny X-Men and the entirety of its second volume, building up to the Avengers vs. X-Men event. Here, he's in a similar position, as the Judgment Day crossover, which he is also writing, looms ahead. Gillen reaches for some familiar tools in Immortal X-Men #1. For one, there's a substantial role for Hope Summers. He also writes the entire issue from the perspective of Mister Sinister, whose personality Gillen redefined in Uncanny X-Men, vol. 2 as a sociopathic, elitist, immortal British dandy, which has stuck ever since.

Telling the story from Sinister's perspective allows Gillen to employ the self-aware, witty, borderline fourth-wall-breaking narration found in much of his other work (see also the World Machine in Eternals). Rooting the narrative in Sinister's point of view allows Gillen to play directly to readers, building an unspoken rapport. He then begins mounting the tension by implying knowledge Sinister should not have before revealing how he has it. It all culminates in a jaw-dropping reveal that's somehow shocking and gleefully obvious, almost inevitable, even, in its bombastic depravity, which sets the stage for things to come.

More practically, narrating in Sinister's voice adds charm and humor to what otherwise could be a staid affair, since—overtures of big things to come aside—the issue mainly revolves around parliamentary procedures in choosing a new member of the Quiet Council. It also plays to Werneck's strengths. Werneck uses straightforward, panel-heavy layouts, keeping the conversations clear and moving briskly. He also draws incredibly expressive characters, conveying body language and attitude in even some unusual situations. Have you ever wondered what it looks like when someone without eyes burns a hole in someone with their stare? Feast your eyes on Werneck's rendering of the masked Destiny as she glares towards Sinister in the Quiet Council's chamber to see how it's done.

Werneck does rely on similar posing at times. Panels don't repeat, but a couple of similar shots are close enough to have an almost meme-like quality, especially with Curiel's fulsome colors. Elsewhere, Curiel takes on the unenviable task of bringing Krakoa's vibrant natural splendor to life, a stumbling block for some colorists in this era. He manages well, never letting readers forget the Quiet Council is playing its games of intrigue from the heart of paradise.

Telling the story from Sinister's perspective also helps place the story's focus on a specific subset of mutants. Yes, all mutants are now immortal, thanks to the Five's ability to resurrect (still a well-guarded secret, the issue notes). Yet some of Krakoa's citizens have been playing the eternal long game since well before the nation of Krakoa existed, and several of them have parts to play here and, presumably, in the future, as more of their secrets and their long-laid plans come to light. Intrigue is the name of the game, and some have played it for generations longer than others.

And that's what Immortal X-Men #1 drives home. Hickman's run ended on an ominous note in Inferno #4, emphasizing how tightly the Quiet Council members' fates are entwined and, in turn, how the council's balance of power can determine Krakoa's future or lack thereof. Immortal X-Men #1 doubles down on the mutant nation's precarious position and increases the scope to make it feel like the latest field of play in a much larger and longer-running contest. Gillen, Werneck, and Curiel have successfully managed to find an inventive, exciting, and surprising new angle on what's already the freshest take on the X-Men in decades, and this finely crafted debut issue will quickly have readers hooked.

Published by Marvel Comics

On March 30, 2022

Written by Kieron Gillen

Art by Lucas Werneck

Colors by David Curiel

Letters by Clayton Cowles

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Cover by Mark Brooks