The latest X-Event produces the latest X-Anthology and is that Wolverine I spy on the cover? Review by Liam
Credits & Solicit Info:
Written by Mike Carey
Art by Mirco Pierfederici, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Paco Diaz, Carlo Barberi & Walden Wong, Paul Davidson
Covers by Chris Bachalo, Oliver Coipel
Published by Marvel Comics
Solicitation Text Mutantkind's final war starts here. If you don't know which side you're on, check your DNA.
Age of X: Alpha #1 isn't really the first part of Mike Carey's alternate universe story, but rather a prologue of sorts telling us a little about the world we're going to be visiting. We find an unfamiliar group of familiar characters sitting round a fire the night before a conflict of sorts telling stories of how they came to Fortress X, Magneto's last line of mutant defense in a world that fears and hates them. Judging by some of the stories it's not terribly different from the one we have now but the characters certainly are. Most of them anyway.
Mirco Pierfederici's art in the framing story is dusky. I appreciate that's not a particularly helpful description but it's an apt one as it the uninked pencils (with a fantastic digital paint-job over them) sell the campfire setting very well neither hiding the redesigned characters in shadow or splashing them in light to show anything off. He's not given much storytelling to do but the talking heads scenes are never a chore to read and the atmosphere makes up for the inherant awkwardness usually found in connective tissue like this.
The first story we're given is that of Basilisk, a much changed Scott Summers being held in Alcatraz as equal parts death row prisoner and something else. This story does the best job of combining world building with story and we're given just enough to see how badly broken Basilisk is and how bad the situation for mutants is without sacrificing the story. The art from Gabriel Hernandez is scratchy and simple, telling the story well and standing out from a lot of artists working at Marvel today. One to watch I think.
Skipping to the fourth story we have the heroic rescue of a group of mutants from New York City by Magneto telling us the origins of the fortress our characters find themselves in. This is the story I feel could have been much longer, with an image that certainly deserved a whole page to itself, rather than the one panel it's been squeezed into here. The short length means we're not given much chance to buy into the desperation of the characters before their rescue and the story suffers for it. Nonetheless it's told with good clean lines by Paul Davidson and his work on fill-ins and anthology stories will hopefully lead to more work at Marvel because he's got the house style down nicely.
The two middle stories feature the Guthrie family and Wolverine illustrated by Carlo Barberi and Paco Diaz respectively although you could tell me this was the other way round and I wouldn't have questioned it. Putting two such similar artists on the stories helped neither stand out and that's something I think they both needed. Had Husk not been such a departure from her usual self I would have no trouble with her story appearing in a regular X-Book and Wolverine's confrontation with Kavita Rao wouldn't have been out of place in Joss Whedon's gifted story right up until the ending which hints at changes we're yet to see. Neither tale is a bad one but the similar art and unremarkable stories make me wish the pages had been given over to Magneto and Basilisk's stories to flesh out the more interesting half of this issue.
Not a bad comic overall and one that anyone on the fence over Age of X would do well to pick up if they need help making their minds up. Mike Carey has promised a new story to stand alongside the Age of Apocalypse or Days of Future Past and while this issue doesn't really rise to their heights there's enough to suggest that it might.
Review by: Liam