Catrina here, back with my weekly comics column for all True Believers! This particular book was dropped on my desk yesterday. It felt like Christmas. If you dig the X-Men and particularly enjoyed the new Days of Future Past movie, I’d definitely recommend picking it up.
With a team divided and the world ever at odds, the one-shot X-Men: No More Humans OGB from Marvel takes the reader almost ruthlessly into an already dark and dreary storyline. While one doesn’t have to be well-acquainted with current X-Lore, it’s best to know that ‘creative differences’ (i.e. Vigilantism VS. Lawful Good when it comes to the world’s ever-present Mutant/Human debate) have divided our classic X-Men up into Wolverine and friends at the Jean Grey School, and Cyclops’ slightly more extreme group of mutants (which, oddly enough, includes Jean Grey herself). This, of course, doesn’t exclude the Maximoff trio of Magneto, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, as well as the various ‘bad guys’ canon continues to hold near and dear to our hearts — such as Mystique.
The story kicks off with the kidnapping of Dr. Gregory Sale, creator of a reality-warping machine that allows one to jump through various universes — to put it simply. The machine has allowed Sale to become well-known as a genius inventor, primarily because he’s used it to jump through different universes and steal inventions from other creators. But in the wrong hands — particularly those of Mystique and Wolverine’s lovechild, Raze — the device becomes a genocide machine. Raze, fancying himself a liberator for all mutants, decides to take all homo-sapiens (including Marvel heroes like The Avengers and The Fantastic Four) and hang them up in limbo, then uproot mutants living in far more dangerous realities and bring them to the front lawn of the Jean Grey School.
Humanitarian crisis and general chaos through misunderstanding ensue, causing the X-Men to team up with their adversaries, The Maximoffs, and Cyclops’ band of We’re Good, but Not That Good guys. Can they overcome Raze’s Brotherhood (composed of several alternate universe versions of their usual baddies), take on the natural disaster that is Phoenix (also, from another dimension) without not killing each other via sarcasm and actual violence along the way?
With art by Salvador Larocca (with Justin Ponsor, Matt Milla, Jeremy Cox and Guru-EFX) this story comes to life as an emotional rollercoaster directly into hell. Or, at least, an alternate universe version of hell, where everyone looks beautiful and the desolate cityscapes go beyond shadows and smoke. Larocca has a way of bringing a huge ensemble of characters to life as individuals, and leaves no special cameo to fade into the background.
Mike Carey’s direction of the entire story also shows his control over large casts – even the smallest roles, such as Tempus spying on the enemy and Triage reanimating a certain someone to save the world, are far from overlooked. Every character is a key part of this story, which was somewhat mind-blowing due to how short it was.
As someone who’s never really been a fan of Jean Grey or the Phoenix, I was actually quite captivated by how the two interacted with alternate versions of themselves, and really enjoyed Jean’s recovery from essentially becoming a God (again) for about ten minutes. A breath of fresh air when it comes to an otherwise complicated and often (only in my opinion) over-dramatic story. Jean has grown so much since the Phoenix incident, and she shines within this story, needing no help or reassurance from her beau, Scott.
What I find particularly fun about this one-shot is that it’s an easy transition for those just coming into comics, especially if they’re coming off of the Days of Future Past high. For the most part, you know your main characters, and everyone the reader may not know is given enough of a spotlight to explain who they are or what they do. Doors are left open for new comic fans to investigate, but long-time readers will enjoy callbacks to older series and side-characters that suddenly become important.
Overall, the story is an incredibly fun ride that continues the tradition of X-Men lore: breaking down the barriers of racism in ways that only X-Writers can achieve, and delivering a fun, character-driven story that grips at your heart and threatens to rip it out like in Temple of Doom — before safely returning it without damaging any of the canon (or your innards).
Stay tuned for Catrina’s weekly reviews right here on Geek & Sundry! Which comics are on your pull list this week?
Catrina Dennis is the Community and Social Media Manager at Geek & Sundry. She is obsessed with comics, dragons, and bad zombie flicks. In her spare time, she writes comic/gaming reviews and morbid fiction. Follow her on twitter: @ohcatrina.