The Original X-Men #1 is written by Christos Gage and published by Marvel Comics. Pencils are by Greg Land, inks by Jay Leisten and colours by Frank D’Armata. Letters are by VC’s Clayton Cowles. Main cover art (left) is by Ryan Stegman, JP Mayer and Brad Anderson.
The Original X-Men #1 is available now, in print and on digital platforms where all good comic books are sold.
THE OG 5 ON AN ALL-NEW ADVENTURE! Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Iceman and Angel – the first and greatest heroes to bear the X-Men name – once traveled into their own futures and reset the course of history. Now another multiversal mystery calls them forth. When the dust settles, one hero will remain, trapped in the world as we know it. With shocking surprise guests and heart-pounding twists and turns, Christos Gage and Greg Land kick off a story that will shake the whole MU!
The original X-Men team are back! This is something I’ve been craving for so long. Following the eradication of mutants, the introduction of Inhumans and the subsequent return of the mutants it feels like Marvel hasn’t been sure what to do with Xavier’s team. But this new one-shot from writer Christos Gage seeks to reset the playing field and restore some of the legacy the franchise so deserves.
When last I read any X title, the young OG 5 heroes had been sent forwards in time and co-existed alongside their adult counterparts. Since then those teen heroes had been returned to their original time period with no memories of their jaunt in the future. That’s right where we pick up with them here, battling Plantman and a late arrival in Eel. Just as the fight is getting good, the team is popped out of existence and thrust in to an adventures which is sure to have a ripple effect on the MU.
All the elements are in place to make The Original X-Men a tale for the ages. Not only do we have the original line up of Jean Grey’s Marvel Girl, Cyclops, Beast, Ice Man and Angel. But we also have an appearance from a new and intriguing version of Phoenix. This new version appears in neither the traditional green or red costumes. We quickly learn that the purple-suited version is a friendly Phoenix, willingly bonded with Jean from another Earth in the Marvel Multiverse.
There’s a fair few nostalgia beats which Gage tees up for artists Greg Land, Jay Leisten and Frank D’Armata to tackle. First up there’s the classic costumes. Each of the core characters looks great in their original uniform. Likewise the Phoenix herself, seen in several guises across the book, looks incredible. It’s an X-Men greatest hits which instantly reminded me why I’ve been craving more of this classically inspired version of the characters rather than the more convoluted stories unravelling in the main X books.
The friendly-Phoenix has a stark warning. An even darker Phoenix from Earth-696 threatens the multiverse as we know it. Friendly-Phoenix can’t take her on for fear that her darker counterpart will absorb her power. Only the young X-Men are perfectly placed to take her down. A final chance to stop this threat from breaching between worlds and threatening every Earth standing.
And so begins an adventure which once again puts the young X-Men alongside their elder counterparts. Gage doesn’t retreat the steps of the past however. These are new versions of themselves which have a drastically different history and situation to their own. In fact, Gage uses the opportunity to present some interesting contemporary concepts which feel deeply rooted in the history of the X-Men. A passing comment likening brainwashing anti-mutant protestors to forced conversion therapy is a really startling moment. This kind of politically challenging content belongs in X books so I applaud Gage for bringing as much of that as possible in this one-shot.
No spoilers from me the the story takes a dramatic turn in its third act. A turn which does veer slightly in to pure setup for March’s upcoming Weapon X-Men miniseries. There’s a point where a satisfying conclusion is pushed aside to allow this book to act as the beginning of something much larger. It does cheapen the impact of The Original X-Men, making it little more than a vehicle for creating a brighter future for the team. But given the positive sense of direction and the sheer joy at seeing these characters together, it is easily forgivable.
The Original X-Men is a tantalising glimpse in to a potential new golden era for the titular team. Solid writing and blockbuster artwork make this a great jumping off point for future storytelling.