I’ve been reading comics for about three years, but I’ve always been a bit intimidated by the long ongoing series with lots of history. As part of Gatecrasher’s ongoing ‘Is __ New Reader Friendly?’ series, I’m a pretty good candidate to review X-Men #1: I’ve never read any X-Men comics and the last (and only) movie I saw from the franchise was the 2009 Wolverine movie.
The comic begins with the first of three villain introductions. All three of these are mostly motivated within the space of the first comic, and are probably some of the most accessible parts of the story. There was only one panel that made me feel like I missed something in the first few pages, when one of the villains is shown watching the news and learning something about Mars. It wasn’t immediately clear what the villain saw on the news, but it seemed like a reference people who read previous comics would pick up. Ultimately, this confusion about Mars would continue later, but it wasn’t totally necessary information to know what this villain’s whole deal was.
From there, we entered the main story, and the general gist was easy to follow. Overnight the X-Men made a home base that doubled as a giant tree, explained as the result of someone pouring billions of dollars into real estate to make this happen overnight and an army of lawyers to defend them from anyone who complained after the fact. I’m not sure even billions of dollars could expedite New York zoning laws, but I guess if we have superheroes, we can have our fancy treehouse too. The comic has a cute graphic that has faces and names, but I was still a bit slow to realize Cyclops = Scott = Mr. Summers.
The dialogue here referenced a lot of things I didn’t have context on. It definitely didn’t seem like it was to catch up a new reader, more to connect the current story to previous events, for people who had more background than me. There were two topics I was a bit confused on which related to events before this comic: Mars, which was claimed as ‘Arakko’, and Krakoan politics. After reading the whole comic, I’m admittedly a bit lost on these still, despite the comic making a clear effort to catch a new reader up on these. These seem important to figure out because they will probably motivate a major storyline.
The last part of the main story was a big monster fight. This was accessible and easy to follow. The labeled names, in the beginning, helped a lot, but we also got to see the characters use their powers and call out to each other a lot, so it served as a good introduction to the heroes in action, including some callouts to other allies in the universe who aren’t part of this story. From there, we get a lead-in to the two remaining villain stories I mentioned above, which were again accessible because I think this was introducing these characters to the long-time readers as well.
In all, the main story was easy enough to follow for a completely new reader. The dialogue felt at times like a series of inside jokes that weren’t meant for you, but it only seemed to affect the main story in one case, so if you want to keep reading you might want to Google what’s going on with Mars.
Final Verdict: Not New Reader Friendly