Age of X-Man: Marvelous X-Men #1
Written by Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler
Art by Marco Failla and Matt Milla
Lettered by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Given the somewhat awkward lead-up to “Age of X-Man,” many fans were skeptical that it could deliver. But Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler’s stellar Age of X: Alpha #1 really effectively set the stage for this alternate reality jaunt, acting as a strong primer for all of the titles that we to spin out of this event. Age of X: Marvelous X-Men #1 acts as the flagship title within the event, and it takes a little bit of a step back in terms of overall quality but still manages to be an interesting confluence of a lot of the ideas that the writers are playing with. Marco Failla is a worthy follow-up to Ramon Rosanas’ work in the Alpha issue, keeping a similar sort of balance between character and action that Rosanas brought to the table. But it feels like Thompson and Nadler are holding back a little bit, opting to seed out the mystery of this world a little longer rather than dive all the way into it.
On one hand, you can’t really fault that approach. Much like the Alpha issue, this issue is not coming out with the context of the other titles just yet. Thompson and Nadler don’t want to show their whole hand. But that forces them to retrace some of the ideas they’ve already touched upon, and that does make the issue feel a little light. They are definitely adept at throwing some interesting ideas at us and (of course) referencing old continuity (which I suppose was unaffected by 2015’s Secret Wars for the purposes of this story) as well as showing us how the other titles are woven into this story. Age Of X-Man: Apocalypse & The X-Tracts already seems to be affecting this title in some way, and that creates a really great way for Thompson and Nadler to pass the baton to other creators to run with those threads of the event. I’m a bit amazed at the intention and attention to detail being paid here - not all creators have that skill.
Artistic continuity is important as well, and Marco Failla does a good job picking up where Ramon Rosanas left off. Both artists utilize very clean linework, but Failla’s inks are a bit heavier in spots. The overall effect is strong character and expression work and a great sense of setting. You don’t feel lost on these pages and that visual clarity is really important as this is a team book that requires all of the creators to give all of the characters a moment or two to shine. However, I think Failla sacrifices a lot of dynamism for that clarity. That makes some of the action feel small, and the big moments in the script feel very reined in. It’s not a bad effort on the whole, and it plays very well with Matt Milla’s coloring, but it feels like it might be a bit too safe.
Age of X: Marvelous X-Men #1 is a solid addition to this event providing some more context for the world and showing that there is more to this utopia than meets the glowing eye. But it treads water a little bit while waiting for its companion titles to come out. The art is similar in that Failla seems more content working in concert with what Rosanas has already delivered rather than forge his own identity on the book. That said, “Age of X-Man” is off to a captivating start, one that will have X-fans foaming at the mouth for more.