THE HEROES OF KRAKOA DEBUT!
It's a changing of the guard as the first X-Men team of Krakoa debuts! One era ends as a new one begins, and the handoff happens here.
Amongst other things....
The Gala continues. This is really Hickman’s hand-off of the main title to a new writer and he does so with a fair amount of aplomb in an issue split into four parts across the evening from beginning to end. It starts with failure as Charles and Eric fail once more to convince Namor to join Krakoa and mutantkind, Hickman gets Namor’s arrogance spot on as the King of Atlantis makes it clear who he thinks really holds power in the grand scheme of things. It’s a deliberate opening with a deliberate ending right down to the guest’s Namor walks away to join and Frank Martin’s orange almost bloody red sunset colors. The lines between Krakoa and Atlantis remain drawn as before…
Next, the new X-Men team is announced in a beautifully drawn and colored segment by Russell Dauterman and his regular partner in crime Matthew Wilson. The ominous tone of the opening segment is washed away as Jean Grey unites all mutants across the planet in a show of telepathic unity as the votes are cast. There’s an excellent shift in perspective here as Hickman uses one of the Fantastic Four to really illustrate how one part of humanity views things that come naturally to mutants ending with a very powerful statement,from an Eternal no less, refuting the view… (which is used in the featured image of this review) Yes Johnny you should be listening that’s the point: “There’s no shame. No hidden agenda’s or manipulation…Just Pride” an exceptionally apt statement and pretty deliberate in it’s wording considering it’s Pride Month. After that the writing takes a bit of a back seat to the wonderfully joyful and candid moments Dauterman brings to the page as the team is announced followed by a beautiful splash as the new team stands together. I love how Dauterman captures those moments with Remy kissing his wife, Laura getting caught completely flat-footed eating shrimp which is perfect, Everett getting congratulations from his former Gen X teammates and more. It’s a beautiful section to the issue that really captures the new unity of mutant-kind in the Krakoa era and of course everything from Dauterman’s Jean Grey to Storm’s cheekbones are absolutely stunning.
Of course, it’s Hickman and what would a red Hickman issue be without all the best scandalous secrets and rumors from Bar Sinister. Some of the references are easily identifiable some less so but it adds a sense of mystery to the issue while pointing toward things yet to come as it pivots back into the third part of the evening as mutants and humans celebrate, drink, and dance the night away. Hats off to Lukas Werneck and colorist Sunny Gho here, his characters are beautifully rendered and he does a particularly amazing job with the many many featured cameos (including his own) which I won’t spoil as it’s far too much fun to go spot them yourselves. Werneck’s Emma in her 20’s style dress is absolute perfection as she bargains with visiting dignitaries from the nameless city of a hidden society for something kept in a secret box… The only Marvel reference I could find to a nameless city goes back to Conan comics and a nameless city called Valesia, not sure if there’s a connection at this point although. Mystique seems very strategically placed in that interaction (INFERNO is coming). Hickman then treats us to a marvelous monologue from Scott talking to a certain MCU big wig (who I’m sure will cause a huge amount of chatter on social media amongst the MCU Stans, personally I think there’s more important things going on in this issue to be honest) which really I feel encapsulates Scott’s journey from who he was when he became an X-Men to who he is now and the decisions he has made…Hickman once again demonstrates his talent for getting specific character voices right with that speech.
The last section sees Emma Frost takes center stage after the new team announcement for celebratory fireworks but not the kind we all see with the naked eye…It’s an ending filled with promise and mystery, wonderfully brought to life by Sara Pichelli and colorist Nolan Woodward as mutant-kind stand on the cusp of the dawning of a new age…
The issue has got a little bit of everything as Hickman once again likes to paint the broad outlines of things in the cryptic manner that he does. It runs the full gamut of having everything from an ominous opening to an ending filled with hope and expectation for something bright and new to come…yet Hickman tempers the optimism with sinister secrets and moments that make for a finely balanced issue full of something for everyone as he passes the main book off to Gerry Duggan . The art is of an exceptional standard throughout the issue from all involved although I cant say I’m particularly fond of Dragotta’s Namor in certain panels but that’s a minor gripe in the grand scheme of things.
X-Men #21 seems to be once again a broad outline from Hickman hinting at things to come through interactions and data pages while at the same time being a really beautifully executed issue from an art point of view
X-MEN 21: Dealings, Dreamers and Secrets
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 9.5/109.5/10
Color - 9.5/109.5/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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