Graphic Novel Review: Astonishing X-Men: Life of X

Astonishing X-Men: Life of X

Astonishing X-Men: Life of X - Credit: Archant

The latest X-Men title gets off to an excellent start...

(Panini Books)

Psychic mutants across the world are being eliminated by a devastating force which strikes without warning. But when the X-Man Psylocke is targeted, she sends out a distress call to team-mates selected for their unique skills and abilities, bringing Old Man Logan, Bishop, Archangel, Fantomex, Rogue, Gambit and “the Beast” to London to help…

But as the assembled X-Men enter the astral plane in order to confront long-standing foe the Shadow King, it soon becomes clear that not only are not all those gathered exactly who they say they are (unfortunately the cover of this collection is a massive spoiler for the impersonator’s identity), but there’s another presence involved in the conflict, one the team thought long-since dead…

Acclaimed writer Charles Soule is joined by a line-up of outstanding artistic talent including Jim Cheung, Mike Deodato, Ed McGuinness and Carlos Pacheco to launch this new era for the X-Men, which draws on the mutant misfits’ long and convoluted past while also establishing a fresh direction for the team.

His line-up of heroes and anti-heroes is an interesting mix, and certainly not your usual blend of X-Men, but Soule has definitely done his research, and knows the histories and characterisation of all of his protagonists, which he uses to great effect in his narrative.

Bringing back the Shadow King is probably a response to the villain’s recent appearance in the Legion TV series, itself a spin-off from the mutant movies, but the other resurrection is much more interesting, restoring the X-Men’s patriarch to life following his death during the Avengers/X-Men crossover. Yes, Charles Xavier is back, and while his absence has certainly been felt in the past few years, it hasn’t been to the detriment of the team(s) he founded.

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This volume ends on a cliff-hanger, so quite how Xavier will react to the changes since his passing have yet to be revealed. It’s an auspicious start to yet another X-book, which obviously needs to stand out to make an impact in an already flooded marketplace, but on the strength of this debut volume Soule could very well have a hit on his hands…

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