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    Review: Age of X: Alpha

    By | January 30th, 2011
    Posted in Reviews | % Comments

    Written by Mike Carey
    Illustrated by Mirco Pierfederici, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Carlo Barberi, Walden Wong, Paco Diaz, Paul Davidson

    Mutantkind’s final war starts here.

    If you don’t know which side you’re on, check your DNA.

    Based off my childhood, I’m conditioned to expect X-Events that begin with an “Alpha” comic to be amazing. Does this one do the Alpha name justice?

    Find out after the jump.

    This book was a really hard one for me to come up with a stance on for a lot of reasons. I had two pretty major problems with it, but at the same time, there was also a lot to love.

    First off, let’s start with the negative. The transition from the ending of the previous issue of X-Men Legacy into the Age of X is, at best, a bit too clean cut to make any sense. We’ll likely get the “why is this happening?” later on in the series, but without that obvious game changer ala Age of Apocalypse and Legion’s MDK’ing his pops, it makes the whole thing start off on an odd foot. I found myself struggling to connect with the story early on because of this.

    The art was my other problem, as I liked the idea behind the issue (different artists for each section) but the actual execution on it was not the best. Carlo Barberi’s poor man’s Humberto Ramos impersonation on the Cannonball and Husk section and Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s efforts on the Basilisk section ultimately were detractions from each of them. At its best in this book, the art doesn’t take anything away from the issue but it doesn’t do anything for it either. It’s zero sum art that I find frustrating in such a big book, and something that has troubled X-Men Legacy at times recently.

    These two things are a shame mostly because Mike Carey’s actual execution of the story is remarkably solid. The Basilisk story is fantastic in particular, telling a very different version of Cyclops, one that has been haunted by the things he had to do because of the reality of the situation they are in. Carey is a writer who is talented at bridging the gap between a character and the situation to heighten the emotional content of what happens on the page. That’s why the worst nightmare sequences Cyclops, Cannonball/Husk, Wolverine and Magneto are thrown into are just so damn great. Carey makes each of them painful in their own right, while also casting each character into lights we’ve never really seen from them before (thanks to the carte blanche given to Carey because of the alternate universe).

    I love how similar some of the situations are to ones that we’ve already seen for the characters. While some might find this redundant, I find it adding a level of truth to Carey’s character work. The way that Cyclops in this reality is like a mirror image of his AoA self, the way that Wolverine still tries to take out the cure at no matter the cost like in Whedon’s Astonishing, the fierce connection to their family we’ve always experienced from the Guthrie’s, and the spin on Magneto’s big finale from Morrison’s New X-Men run…all four of these situations remind us of things we’ve previously experienced, but only enough to amplify their effectiveness.

    Needless to say, I’m excited to see where this story goes from here. It’s an engaging one that doesn’t have a lot of details told so far, but you can feel that they are coming. However, this is a tough book to rate because I loved Carey’s execution but the build-up made it tough to connect to at first and the art pushed my enjoyment down a good amount. Overall, I’m going to give it a buy because it resonated with me as a reader, but it could have been a whole lot more with a few different choices made by Marvel and the X-Team.

    Final Verdict: 7.0 – Buy

    David Harper

    David Harper mainly focuses on original content, interviews, co-hosting our 4 Color News and Brews video podcast, and being half of the Mignolaversity and Valiant (Re)visions team. He runs Multiversity's Twitter and Facebook pages, and personally tweets (rarely) @slicedfriedgold. By day, he works in an ad agency in Anchorage, Alaska, and he loves his wife, traveling and biscuits & gravy (ordered most to least, which is still a lot).