Graphic Novel Review: X-Men: Primer

14:19 03 January 2014

X-Men: Primer

X-Men: Primer

Archant

Here come the X-Women!

Ironically for a book simply titled “X-Men”, this is actually a team made up of the mutant team’s female members - Storm, Jubilee, Psylocke, Rachel Grey, Kitty Pryde and Rogue – a concept which has long been mooted but surprisingly only now gets its chance in the sun.

Writer Brian Wood reintroduces Jubilee after a long absence from the series after the events of the Curse of the Mutants, with a baby boy in tow she rescued following the deaths of his parents. He also brings back John Sublime, the sentient bacterium with its origins in Earth’s prehistory created by Grant Morrison during his X-Men run.

Sublime has survived by infecting different hosts throughout the centuries, and taking drastic steps to keep mutantkind in check to prevent it from becoming the planet’s dominant species…

Now he willingly surrenders to his old foes the X-Men as he believes they pose the best hope of stopping his “sister” the technological virus Arkea, which has returned to Earth following millennia travelling the stars with conquest in mind…

A prior knowledge of Sublime and his motives is essential here, as is an up-to-date knowledge of the X-team’s protagonists, but a quick skim through Wikipedia should bring any newbies swiftly up to speed.

There’s a definite Chris Claremont feel to this series, emphasised by the inclusion of a 1989 issue of Uncanny X-Men as a bonus addition to this book. Strong and powerful women taking the lead was a regular characteristic of his stories, but here that mix of dominant female personalities results in leadership clashes between the likes of Rachel and Storm.

There’s also none of the “girl power” feel you might have expected had this book been launched a couple of decades back, and the line-up of X-Men just happens to be all-female, rather that being an excuse for gender tokenism.

The over-arching theme here is that the X-Men never abandon their own, something long-forgotten characters like Maggot and Marrow might dispute, but we’ll let that go for the sake of this particular story. Jubilee might have been away from the team for a long time, but she is welcomed back with open arms, and her friends and allies are prepared to lay their lives on the line to protect her in the process.

This is an old-school X-Men series which stands alone from Brian Michael Bendis’ work on the two other main X-books, and is a perfect entry point for anyone looking for relatively baggage-free X-Men action (just overlook the two later issues which form part of the Battle of the Atom crossover!).

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