Age of X: Alpha
Written by Mike Carey
Art by Mirco Pierfederici, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Carlo Barberi, Paco Diaz, and Paul Davidson
Going into this issue I was torn between not knowing what to expect, and expecting a replay of Age of Apocalypse: Alpha. After last weeks issue of X-Men: Legacy, with whatever it was that Blindfold saw, part of me was expecting to see the Age of X open up with her there, remembering her world, and being our point of view character, much like Bishop was in the AoA. So I was somewhat surprised that we were dropped in with no connection back to the 616 universe, and was really pleased at just how Mike Carey chose to introduce us to this universe he created.
The story picks up with the would-be-X-Men (whom I haven’t figured out what to call yet) patrolling Fortress X, making sure that they are safe, before shifting focus to a smaller group around a campfire. This group, made up of mutants such as Namor, Storm, Jubilee, Nightmare (better known to us as Pixie), Basilisk (Cyclops), Avalanche, Colossus, Toad, Chamber, and many others, spends the issue telling stories. Instead of dropping us into the origin of the universe and what went wrong, we instead are taken directly into character backgrounds.
Starting with Scott Summers, the Basilisk. A man whose time at Alcatraz was spent as the death penalty of the warden, Arcade. Mutants are brought into a room, Basilisk is wheeled inside, his mask opened by remote, and the executions are carried out. A tool of murder, bound and helpless, but in the eyes of the Warden, a mutant used to execute mutants, poetic. The story is short, and the art by Gabriel Hernandez is nice and gritty and perfectly suits the tone of the story. Despite the length of the story (seven pages), the point is gotten across nicely. Scott is a tortured individual, and it’s easy to understand in this universe why he might be uptight or guarded.
The second short story is about Cannonball and Husk as they attempt to rescue their family from a convoy of police that are rounding up mutants and those related to mutants, and the Guthrie siblings are more than just a little bit different from their mainstream counterparts. Cannonball is more detached from his emotions, which leaves him focused on the goal, and suprisingly effective. Husk almost seems to enjoy what can do the humans that hunt them down all the way up until the moment where she swears revenge. The split between the two over responsibility and vengeance does far more for Sam than it does for Paige, as when the story ends and he pulls down his red goggles, all I can see is the subtle hint I’d already picked up on….Cannonball is the Cyclops, he’s going to be the strategist field leader. Carlo Barberi does a very nice job on art for this story, especially picking up the nice human touches in the faces of the siblings; which is an even bigger credit to Barberi, as Paige spends the majority of the story in a stone form and you can read her emotions from her face, eyes, and body language. It’l be interesting to see how these two play out as the story unfolds.
The third story is about Dr. Kavita Rao, the mutant cure, and Wolverine. Sounds like a hell of a party, right? Before her time with the mutants, Dr. Rao worked in a lab that was developing an X-Gene suppressor, a project she was fine with as it was used on volunteers who wanted to turn off their X-Gene’s, but she took issue when her boss wanted to release it into the water supply. She’s a doctor, she’s fine with helping those who want and need it, but to force it on a race goes against everything she stands for. The argument is short and interrupted after three panels by Wolverine looking to destroy the cure and the research on it. Thankfully, for simplicity of plot, the samples of the cure are all they have, as they somehow don’t know how it works. The point is that to destroy the cure, Rao has to inject all of the sample into Wolverine to eliminate all the evidence, and hope his healing factor can take it. Paco Diaz draws a great Wolverine, and the look in this story has familiar shades of Logan’s Team X outfit, which was pretty badass. I’ve always been a fan of Diaz’s art, so it’s nice to see him get a good gig in this. This story just leaves me wondering….where is Wolverine now?
The final story is a big one, as the human coalition is believed to have slain Magneto, and now seeks to snuff out the resistance entirely. Surrounding a group holed up in the Chrysler building, the humans forces led by Colonel Creed (looks like Sabretooth with short hair and a bionic arm….if I had to guess, I’d say he took the cure, or its; Graydon) are about to blow the building down with them in it. Magneto makes a return that shifts the course of the incident, and morale, and with the ending he shows just how much more power he has in this world. This isn’t the Magneto we’re used to, even weakened his powers are increased a thousand fold. And beyond that, the voice the character has, I can still see Magneto in it, but it’s incredibly unique….more so than even the Magneto of the Age of Apocalypse (who….was just Magneto with Xavier’s goals). Paul Davidson provides the art here, and does a nice job, nothing spectacular, but there are some cool moments that he portrays well.
Mirco Pierfederici provides the art for the framing sequences throughout the issue, linking us from story to story. The best way I can think to describe his style is to say that it’s like if Daniel Acuna could make his art not look flat. It’s impressive, but definitely not something I would like to see for the entirety of an issue. Nice pinup of the group to wrap up the issue though.
As an Alpha issue, this book had the job of introducing us to a universe we’d only seen in previews, and making it accessible enough for us to want to continue reading about it for the duration of the arc. For that end, the route Mike Carey chose to take the issue, with short stories giving us background of various characters, as opposed to throwing us directly into the story, was a success. It’s an easy issue to jump right in and read, and it makes you want more. It doesn’t tell you why this universe is important, or where the story I going to go, but it makes you wonder enough to check out the next issue in the series. A very impressive start, and I can’t wait to see what Mike Carey has in store for us.
Tags: Age of X, Mike Carey, Reviews, X-Men