X-Men: Breaking Point part 1
As many readers may recall, I’m a big fan of the X-Men. Back in the day, I was deeply impacted by three comics that I read by sneaking into my brother’s room and carefully removing a classic Daredevil issue by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson as well as X-Men #141/142 – The Days of Future Past story. From that point I was a dedicated follower.
Granted, the series has had many ups and downs since that point, making it difficult to stick by the merry band of mutants through numerous restarts, creative changes, cross overs and… the horror that is Greg Land.
Matt Fraction has made both Iron Man and the Mighty Thor must read books, but somehow the X-Men have eluded his talent, in my opinion. This lack of quality in writing combined with the painful tracery of Land’s art caused me to drop the title outright a few months back. When I learned that Thor scribe Kieron Gillen along with the Dodson art team were coming on board, I decided to give it another go.
Part of the problem in keeping the X-Men enjoyable has to be juggling the many cast members and keeping a strong narrative at the same time. Additionally, there’s a massive backlog of continuity to research and keep up with. Therefore Gillen’s first issue includes Namor fighting a subterranean monster off the coast of Utopia, Magneto’s interest in the magic bullet that he drew to Earth bearing the long lost Kitty who is still trapped in her ghostly phased form and a call back to Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men storyline from way back (a comic that I still cannot understand the appeal of, but I’m in the minority there). It’s an impressive feat and he manages to pull it off while still generating just enough drama to keep readers coming back for more.
Breaking Point brings together several characters and plots from Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men series Breakworld, perhaps to attract fans of that storyline that may be brought back to the title by the popularity of the upcoming movie. It’s a gamble, but a safe one.
Agent Brand of S.W.O.R.D. calls on the X-Men to deal with a political upheaval on Breakworld where Colossus’ intervention created a power vacuum that he was reluctant to fill. A war craft from Breakworld appeared on Brand’s deep space scanners, headed for Earth. With very few resources and a strong desire to force the X-Men to clean up their mess, Brand recruits the team in a mission to the stars where they will intercept the craft and take it down from within.
The artwork is finally back in fine form. The Dodsons are amongst my favorite of art teams for the X-Men in recent years, evoking something of Paul Smith in their sleek lines. A massive cast of characters is slimmed down significantly by a small group taking a trip to the stars along with Agent Brand, where they discover that things aren’t exactly as they seem.
The plotting, characterization and dialog are sharper than they have been in decades. X-Men is a tricky comic that has a healthy dose of suspenseful drama, explosive action and a lot of continuity to cater to long time fans like myself. I don’t envy Gillen the task set before him, but I sure am happy that he took the job!
If, like me, you are a big fan of the X-Men but had given up on the series, this may be a good time to give it another go.