It’s been over a year now since the epic House Of X and Powers Of X miniseries came to an end, and the world of the X-Men was reshaped, with a new status quo established, under the supervision of Jonathan Hickman. The nation-state of Krakoa rose to prominence seemingly overnight, and the mutants claimed their own place on the world stage. The Dawn Of X was ushered in, and along with it came a slew of new X-Men titles, which over the course of the last year has gone through several changes. There are many books that have been individually developed to work for a variety of comics readers, so there’s something here for fans of every sort of X-story. Here’s a handy guide through what’s currently running:
X-Men is the “core” book among the X-titles these days, written by Jonathan Hickman himself, and drawn by a revolving team of artists that include folks like Leinil Yu and Mahmud Asrar so far. This book functions as more of an interconnected series of one-shots, splitting the focus on different mutants, but a large portion is dedicated to Cyclops and the Summers family. It’s a new dynamic with a young Cable, Rachel, Gabriel, Alex, Jean, and also Logan around on their new home on the moon. That’s right, mutants on the moon, because they can be everywhere now. Some of the best comics in all of the Dawn Of X are single issues of this run, showcasing characters like Mystique and Broo, as well as new Krakoan rituals, like The Crucible. It’s a series that has a little bit of everything going on, but there’s a lot of heart and stories about family and establishment of culture within. X-Men is the book that pushes some of the ideas from House Of X and Powers Of X further and explores new and interesting paths. Drama lies at the heart of this series.
You could very easily classify Excalibur as simply being the magic book of the X-line, but it is so much more than that. Tini Howard is at the helm, drawn primarily by Marcus To with Erick Arciniega coloring. The core focus of the series is two-fold, splitting its time mostly with Betsy Braddock, newly-minted Captain Britain, and Apocalypse, who is engaging with his fellow mutants in an attempt to extend their reach and reclaim what he believes to be theirs. The stories here are the most lore-heavy, and thoughtfully crafted with reverence to what they’re built upon in the X-line. Identity and finding yourself are some of the guiding themes of the book, and it is spectacular. There are Gambit and Rogue moments here that I cherish more than most anything I’ve ever seen them in otherwise. This is the book that most celebrates the potential of mutants in forging ahead their new future, while also touching on their past and what they long to fix.
New Mutants is unique next to the other X-books at this time, since it starts with two creative teams for the first arcs. Jonathan Hickman and artist Rod Reis take the original team into space, while Ed Brisson and artist Flaviano take some of the youth around Krakoa on a journey of their own. As of the most recent issue, #14, a new writer, Vita Ayala, has taken over with Rod Reis returning on art. This is a book about family, found family. The core original team has aged into young adults now, but otherwise we get to see a variety of younger mutants react to the establishment of Krakoa, and make their own way forward, whether it’s the right way or not. It’s a book about learning as well, and it is consistently among the most gorgeous books on shelves. If you love these kids, as so many of us do, this book honors their legacy and treats them with the care that you would hope for.
Marauders brings Swashbuckling pirate adventures on the high seas with humor to spare. Gerry Duggan helms this ship, with artists such as Stefano Caselli and Matteo Lolli, among others. The evolution of Kitty Pryde, now going by Kate, is at the forefront of this book, along with how her relationship with Emma Frost has developed. The Marauders are an extension of Krakoa into the larger world, utilized for rescuing mutants from other nations, and working for the newly-formed Hellfire Trading Company. The characterization of everyone on the team is fresh and exciting, while honoring what came before it. It’s (typically) one of the more joyful current X-books. It’s never too late to reinvent yourself, and this book is evidence of how you can head in a new direction without fundamentally changing pre-established canon.
“The Mutant CIA” was the idea behind this iteration of X-Force, headed up by Ben Percy with artists like Joshua Cassara and Jan Bazaldua rotating in. X-Force is the book that deals with more of the infrastructure of Krakoa, as well as how external measures are handled in regards to security. This isn’t how the team would usually be operating, as they function more like an arm of government that’s completely sanctioned by Xavier. Arguably, this is the most brutal book of the current X-line, delivering body-horror and intense action that’s both thrilling and alarming.
Wolverine is kind of like the other side of the coin that is X-Force. Ben Percy writes this as well, but with a rotating art team headed by legend Adam Kubert. The cohesiveness between Wolverine and X-Force is just a little tighter than the rest of the line as a result. It’s a good old solo Logan adventure, that occasionally folds in other mutants, but is largely dedicated to Logan doing what he does best. And as always, what he does best isn’t very nice. The brutality comes in at a level just below X-Force, but it is a beautiful work that showcases exactly why Wolverine is the favorite mutant of writer Ben Percy. Logan has to find his place in paradise somehow, but after the life he’s lived, that’s easier said than done.
My personal favorite of the bunch, is Hellions. Written by Zeb Wells and largely drawn by Stephen Segovia, with Carmen Carnero as well, Hellions is the team of outcasts and murderers thrown together to operate as a strike team under Mr. Sinister. This is the mutant suicide squad, being sent on missions where their destructiveness can be properly utilized and they can still serve a purpose in this new world for mutants. While hands-down the funniest book in the current X-line, the jokes never come at the expense of the characters, who are largely broken mutants. There are nonetheless deep issues brought up here regarding identity and mental stability. It’s a heavy book, much heavier than I ever expected when it was revealed initially, but also always positively gorgeous in every issue. It’s the underdog of the whole line.
I was skeptical at best about this younger Cable when he was introduced, but Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto have brought him into the fold of the Dawn Of X with Cable in an incredibly charming and amusing way. More of Gerry’s trademark humor is on display here, as well as stunning pages from Noto that never fail to captivate. Cable feels like he has something to prove, to measure up against everybody’s expectations, and so in part it feels like a coming of age story. He manages to get himself caught up in his own solo adventures away from Krakoa, very flashily, but with the grace of a teenager just trying his best. Swords and action abound in this fun book about space knights and finding your way.
X-Factor had more hype surrounding it than any other book so far in the Dawn Of X lineup. But still, Leah Williams and David Baldeon have delivered consistently on every issue, making this one of the most acclaimed and excellent books on stands. Leah’s fresh and exciting ideas reinvent the Mojoverse to be something modern and terrifying, and brings together a truly unique team of mutants. The way that the team can work together is shown off constantly, and the chemistry is just fantastic. It’s a book that’s intended for a younger and more social media-based crowd, but for those readers it hits hard and it never lets up. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll fall in love with these wonderful characters that Leah and David have brought to life so thoughtfully.
The newest X-book to launch, and the only one to launch so far after this fall’s event, X Of Swords, is S.W.O.R.D. It’s written by Al Ewing with art by Valerio Schiti and Marte Gracia, and only has one issue at the time of this writing, but already shows enormous promise. The central question of the first issue is “what comes next?” referring to all of mutantdom in the current time, and it offers what is a visually astonishing and conceptually extraordinary answer…in space. The mutants are taking space and expanding in a way like never before with a new team of old fan-favorite mutants, spruced up with lovely new designs. The future is bright, and it starts here. This is the book for you if you love larger-than-life adventures and playing with stakes higher than what most of the X-books deal with on the regular. It’s a celebration of what mutants have accomplished so far, and a testament to what they can yet achieve.
Children Of The Atom And The Future Of The X-Books
Several books on the horizon have been in discussion for months now, but none closer than Children Of The Atom. It’s currently slated for March of 2021, however has been delayed several times now, so who really knows if even that will stick, but here’s hoping. Precious little is known about this upcoming series but it will be written by Vita Ayala and drawn by Bernard Chang, and will focus on a new group of mutants who we already know aren’t clones. Given Ayala’s body of work, and their contributions to the X-books as it stands, it’s sure to be yet another victory for the X-office.
Other books such as an alleged Moira-X book, spinning out of House Of X and Powers Of X, and an X-Corp book as well, are rumored to be coming in the future but there are currently no attached creative teams to either. Hickman has still said in a recent interview that X-Corp is moving along and should have its creative team announced shortly, but either way, the future is looking very bright for the X-line, and I welcome these new additions with the hope that it will bring in even more kinds of readers.