Three X-Men journey into the Vault. What happens there is both less and more than what you might expect.
There are two ways to take this beginning. For those who have been looking forward to this book for months and have built up their expectations, hoping to receive All The Answers, this issue is going to be a disappointment. It would be impossible for any 30-page installment to bear the weight of some (or most) of the expectations that I’ve seen for this issue aired out on Twitter and the interwebs. Some of those expectations have been built up by Marvel in previews and interviews, but that’s only to be expected. This is a selling game. So. A lot of people are going to be disappointed when they crack open their nice new issue.
There is another way of looking at this, and that is to see the work for what it is: tantalizing setup for what’s to come. Issue #18 was the start of a story, introducing us to the denizens of The Vault and giving us an insight into the characters that we’re going to be following. And since we are following (closely) the thoughts of Synch, who has been dead for over twenty years of reading time, it’s good to get a chance to catch up to what he’s thinking.
Synch provides us with the opportunity to see what the resurrected mutants think about their brand new world, even as he leads us deeper and deeper into the land of the machines. This is a gift. If you read this issue with the goal of learning about Synch, and about what resurrection does to people, you will get more out of it than if you are merely interested in propelling the plot — and you will enjoy it more.
Now, knowing Hickman’s tendency to draw a story out, it is tempting to worry that we’ll have to wait months to find out what happens next. I personally would be very disappointed if that turned out to be the case. But as this issue stands, it’s a good, fun read. And that’s what you want from this medium.
Now, if you want to talk about something extraordinary, you’ll have to leave the story behind and look at the art. Mahmud Asrar takes his artform to another level. If you want to talk about personality shining through the panels of a story, look at what he does for Laura. Look at the way she moves. Asrar communicates as much (or more) story through his acting than Hickman does through prose. He is a brilliant visual storyteller, and it’s worth buying this book simply for his art.
All in all, this is a satisfying, beautifully rendered, adventure story — well worth picking up.
X-Men #18: Tick Tock
Writing - 8.5/10
Storyline - 8.5/10
Art - 10/10
Color - 10/10
Cover Art - 9/10
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