Marvels X #1
Written by Jim Krueger
Art by Well-Bee
Lettering by Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 4 out of 10
The Earth X trilogy gets a baffling, thinly-constructed prequel in the debut of Marvels X.Though conceptualized by Earth X creators Alex Ross and Jim Krueger and given a singular look by artist Well-Bee, Marvels X #1 doesn’t seem to have too much to say or even really a lot to do as a prequel.
Centered around a young powerless boy named David, who looks up to Marvel icons almost in a religious way, Marvels X presents us the world in the opening days of the “power” plague released by Black Bolt’s Terrigen Mists. David takes care of his dwindling family, and occasionally ventures outside to replenish supplies, dodging the marauding super-powered populace. But other than that, there is not much to connect Marvels X to the expansive Earth X trilogy, nor even really anything to tell an outside reader it’s a prequel. Though handsome in parts and carrying major names as co-creators, Marvels X #1 ends up being pretty weak soup.
Starting with the good, Marvels X certainly looks like an Earth X title. And that lands squarely on the shoulders of penciler/colorist Well-Bee, who channels John Paul Leon’s artwork from the original Earth X series nicely. Opening with a sort of old-school Allred inspired fantasy sequence centered around David’s paper dolls, Well-Bee lulls us in with the familiar and then hard cuts to the more horror-inspired, closed-off interiors of David’s childhood home.
These scenes, admittedly, are a bit drab, but they conjure a tight feeling of tension and isolation from the strange world outside. Thankfully, it doesn’t stay outside for long as David’s sister and grandmother are finally taken by the “virus.” The grandmother is overcome by a striking, Cronenbergian Terrigenesis, her advanced age blocking her powers and leading to her death. David’s sister, however, becomes a “lucky one,” her skin replaced by blistering light and a sort of collection of angel wings. Her reveal calls to mind the more Biblical-inspired visuals of the original trilogy’s Avenging Host. Both scenes, though wildly different in tone, are truly engaging and staged for the highest amount of impact thanks to Well-Bee.
But as for the script of Marvels X, it is severely lacking. Written with a workman-like cadence by original writer Jim Krueger, this debut gives little indication it even has a connection to the original Earth X trilogy, aside from the “power” virus sweeping through the world. Worse still, David’s entire introduction is too contained to his own life and sphere of influence to give any indication as to how this will lead into the main events of Earth X.
There are moments of inspiration, for sure. Like the costume David dons to look “frightening” without powers, which is really just a yellow hoodie and a Green Goblin fright mask. Also his connection with a “Mrs. Tree” who runs the local co-op, who is a literal tree woman who takes pity on the boy thanks to their connection throughout his childhood. But unfortunately, the implication of a plot doesn’t kick in until the very last pages, wherein David decides to leave home to travel to New York in order to find his heroes, who will presumably take him in. That’s a fairly interesting premise and has the makings of a good prequel, but after pages upon pages of set-up, only a couple of pages with actual progression feels like too little, too late.
Though graced with a singular art style and occasional interesting sparks, Marvels X #1 starts readers at a deficient. Virtually inaccessible to new readers and presenting little for even longtime Earth X fans to latch onto, Marvels X #1 feels like a baffling way to bring back this well-mined alternate universe.