I’ll admit — when Storm & the Brotherhood of Mutants was announced, I was ambivalent at best; S.W.O.R.D. was one of my favorite books as it was coming out, but it spent almost half its run tied up in events, which takes away from its coherence as a whole in the re-read. It feels like X-Men Red had just wrapped up Judgment Day, so the thought of the book stopping entirely for a renamed tie-in to the semi-alternate future Sins of Sinister event didn’t exactly fill me with joy. I figured the writing would be on point — after all, Al Ewing has proven himself time and time again, but I didn’t think it’d be anything where I’d feel a need to go back to it once the event was done.
What I got was one of the rare few books that’s making me eschew over a decade of collecting digitally to pick up a physical copy.
Storm & the Brotherhood of Mutants #1 is, visually, a treat. Not a great treat, mind you, nothing I’d seek out on my own, more like the unlabeled packet of sour candy chilling at the bottom of the Halloween stash until you’ve thoroughly exhausted all of the safer everyday brands. What you get is a little shocking, a little painful, but something memorable, an experience that lasts well beyond that of another handful of uniform Smarties, and the thing is, that’s completely intentional. Paco Medina’s done a lot of great pencils and inks over the years, and all of that experience comes through in the ways the art directs the issue’s tone. Brotherhood, much like last year’s Spider-Punk, embraces a not-quite-house style, rough around the edges punk aesthetic, looking for all the world like your favorite 70’s sci-fi movie hooked up with a Danger Days music video, and raised the resulting baby on a steady diet of denim, leather, and rage against the system. This is only enhanced by the vibe of the requisite data pages, as visually distinct from the rest of the line as Ewing’s have been since S.W.O.R.D., going this time for a staticky hologram approach that made me want to whip out some 3-D glasses. The whole package makes for a bold visual identity, and one that makes a lot of sense for Storm, a character who’s often fallen back into a decidedly safe punk vibe. There’s a limit to how punk anything can be when it’s ultimately owned by Disney, but the creative team found that limit and is covering it in graffiti as we speak.
The aesthetic isn’t solely carried by the art, though — Ewing departs from the more sombre tones of his previous Krakoa work to deliver something a little more visceral. Sins of Sinister is a bad future with a built-in reset button, sure, but all that means is that you can go absolutely goddamn ham with the setting. Everything from the dialogue to the recap page carries a frenetic, unhinged energy, which is never more apparent than when Jon Ironfire is on the page. Listen, the man is a modern-day Adam X. He’s the only friend that makes me cry, he’s a heart attack in black hair dye. He’s the new Mutant I’m most excited about in a week that dropped a Black Cyclops, and if he only exists in the context of this event, I’ll be heartbroken.
Still, for as much as that possibility is a point of concern, it’s the book’s greatest potential as well. No one is coming into Sins of Sinister expecting some grand change that will forever alter the 616 as we know it, but it doesn’t need to be. The beauty of alternate future stories lies in the fact that we get to see an ending for characters who, by their very nature, never get to end. Ewing’s shown a masterful grasp on Storm over the past two years, and I’m thrilled to see how he brings this incarnation’s story to a close over the next two issues. Until then? Long live the Brotherhood.