"I do not believe all mutants should be role models. They are simply what they are. Still, because we are special, the world looks to us and judges all mutants by us. I didn't pick you five just for your abilities alone. I think you are all capable of carrying the burden of responsibility. If the world accepts us, it will largely be due to you X-Men." ~Professor XavierIt's a new month and I'm looking forward to reviewing each issue of the 2008-2009 series, X-Men: First Class written by Jeff Parker and illustrated by Roger Cruz. My X-Men will always be the ones featured in the nineties animated series, but I've also been curious of the core five (Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Angel and Beast) since listening to the Danger Room's podcast reviews concerning the originals sixties Stan Lee issues. I also recently re-read the very first X-Men issue which was the most ridiculous yet endearing thing I have ever been exposed to in comics, and had the pleasure of discussing in a review. Now, hopefully, I'm back to my 'two issues' per day quota of reviews for X-Men and no series is most perfectly enjoyable than Parker's whose writing I also enjoyed for DC's Batman '66 run. This should be fun indeed.
As far as first issues go, this one is an absolute hoot. It had Bobby Drake (Iceman, youngest member of the team) as its narrator as he writes a letter to his mother concerning his stay in the Xavier's School for the Gifted. I think this was a great literary device to establish the characters and their relationships, the varied settings and overall tonality of the series. Through Bobby's eyes, readers easily get acquainted with the rag-tag team of young mutants who also happen to be superheroes fighting crime led by the wheelchair-bound yet powerful telepath extraordinaire, Charles Xavier. X-Men: First Class (not to be mistaken with the 2011 action flick of the same name featuring the star-crossed bromance between a young Xavier and Magneto played respectively by
Interestingly enough, the timeline for this comic book series seems to be placed in a more modern setting since Bobby mentions e-mail which means they have internet, which means this is not happening during the sixties. I could get on board with that. So this issue unravels by making Bobby talk about and describe his teammates with so much heart and wit that I'm already in love with all of these kids quite naturally so. Bobby, understandably, sees Professor X as the adult who supervises and doesn't have much personality which hopefully will change in the next issues. Bobby is uncomfortable being around Xavier and I think it makes sense because Xavier here so far is like a stiff mentor who has yet to have any emotional interactions with Bobby in particular. However, the same thing cannot be said for the other four who all seem to be well-connected enough with their professor.
First, there's Henry McCoy who is your typical big-guy-with-a-soft-heart but also a nerdy motherfucker who is totes the teacher's pet during classroom discussions. After a while, Bobby believes now that it's because Henry doesn't really have anyone to bond with when it comes to science stuff aside from the professor so he eagerly chats away whenever Xavier is around to accommodate him. On the other hand, Bobby also proudly claims he is not the worst student of the five but Warren who would rather fly out in the sky with his pretty wings than study world history. Xavier communicates telepathically with him when this happens, always finding the right words to say to humble the impulsive upper-class white boy himself. And then there's Scott Summers and Jean Grey; the former Bobby seems to have an uneasy relationship with while the latter he seems to want to have a closer affinity with.
I was happy with the fact that the long-held characterizations for both these characters are intact for this AU series. Just like in the Stan Lee originals, young Scott is hopelessly self-doubting, always terrified that he might injure someone he cares about with his powers. He'd approach the professor about him not being worthy of the leadership role only to be comforted time and time again that he is made to lead. I love emo-Scott like you wouldn't believe so this was a nice touch to preserve the vulnerability of an aspiring hero back then who has now turned into comics' most formidable villains these days (le sigh).
Meanwhile, we have Jean Grey who is such a sweet thing that even the stuffy Xavier finds himself softening whenever he's around her, most likely because they're both telepaths which means there's an immediate intimacy and relation there. I sure hope they won't bring back the angle where the professor is secretly infatuated with his teenage student because goddammit, Stan Lee, that was creepy as all fuck. But at this point, being the only girl but with badass telekinesis at that, who can't help falling for Jeanie?
The first issue was so fun to read because it was quite straightforward while also possessing enough depth in the way it summarized the characterizations in a neat bundle of PG-13 action and adventure. It's easy in the eyes, visual style-wise, and Bobby has been such an adorkable teen whose insights on his teammates were surprisingly astute. I'm definitely enticed to keep reading this series. It's light, funny and engrossing in a lot of ways that holds the utmost promise.