The first thing I did when I finished this issue was kick my chair back, take a deep breath and go “Holy shit.”
This book rules, dude.
CHILDREN OF THE VAULT #1 by Deniz Camp, Luca Maresca, Carlos Lopez, and Cory Petit is the third of the issues released as part of the “Fall of X” era of the current X-Books, one of the new miniseries announced for this era. It’s about the Children of the Vault, super-powered humans raised in an enclosed area on Earth where time moves much faster. This leaves them to be more advanced than us, practically a different species. The book also follows Cable and Bishop as they plan on stopping the Children of the Vault.
This issue starts by introducing us to some of the Children, namely Serafina-187, as they reawaken after a “dream”. Even without directly describing the dream, the way they talk and the narration instantly gives the reader an idea of what the dream is about, while also setting up their motivation. It’s short work, a mere three pages, but even within those three pages, we’re introduced to all of these things perfectly without much room for doubt, before cutting away to the credits.
In the credits page, we’re given a summary of events that led to this point. While it is good that they recapped this year’s Hellfire Gala, I do wish that they’d also summarized the issues for the X-Men arc where the Children were trapped in a dream (issues 15 – 17) as well as gave those issue numbers for anyone looking to read for themselves. It’s just a minor nitpick and you’ll be just fine without it, but for readers who want more context, it would have been a valuable inclusion.
From here, we see Cable and Bishop team up, and then we’re thrust into the main story. Off rip, I love how Camp writes the two of them. Just based on the premise alone, having Cable and Bishop team-up is perfect, given they’re both men from doomed futures, but also because of the history they both share, given their differences. It’s a great callback to the Messiah Complex – Messiah War – Second Coming trilogy, letting long-time readers feel rewarded for their continued dedication to the franchise and these characters, but also not being confusing for new readers. Having Cable here is also great since he fought the Children during their original introduction in Mike Carey’s X-Men run, so if you still had doubts on whether or not Camp did his homework before jumping in, you can sleep well knowing that he absolutely did, and he shows it off spectacularly.
Honestly, that’s one of the issue’s biggest strengths. Even if you’re not into X-Men and only know them from a loose perspective – jumping in through Camp’s other frankly amazing comic, 20th Century Men – you’ll be perfectly at home to keep up with it, and I hope this style of writing, something that Al Ewing is also super good at, continues through the rest of the series.
As the Children of the Vault make themselves known to the world, they’re presented very similarly to the Hyperclan from Grant Morrison and Howard Porter’s first arc on JLA, which was really cool. Obviously, the difference is, unlike the Justice League, Cable and Bishop are a lot more lethal, and they have a lot more on the line considering that they’re some of the last people of the mutant race. I’m super excited to see how this story unravels going forward.
The art is awesome. I love how Luca Maresca makes everyone look, and the action is spectacular. I’m a big fan of how he never holds back on restricting characters to their rectangular panels, letting them break if it helps make something more impactful. Carlos Lopez’s colours are also mostly cool. There’s some inconsistencies in how Bishop was coloured (in some panels he looks like he should be a shade darker) but everything else rocks.
Honestly, just wow. If the Hellfire Gala disillusioned you, absolutely pick this issue up. It rocks, and sets up high expectations from the rest of the line going forward. Also check out 20th Century Men, one of the best comics of the decade if you want more Deniz Camp. You won’t regret it.