ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘X-Cellent, Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

X-Cellent #1 - But Why Tho?

X-Cellent #1 is published by Marvel Comics. Written by Peter Milligan, with art by Mike Allred, colors by Laura Allred, and letters by Nate Piekos. X-Statix were a team that died a lot. They had a reality TV show that followed them on their deathly adventures. After too many replacements, the team disbanded. Recently though, the daughter of one of the origins members appeared, attracting the attention of the surviving X-Statix members. But another group, X-Cellent, has become aware of the girl. They exist as a rival to the older lineup, competing for airtime and followers. Led by former X-Statix member Zeitgeist, a culture war erupts between the two teams.

The plot of this issue is something that will take getting used to. Milligan throws the readers straight into the story with a lot of baggage coming beforehand. The most important issue that would greatly help someone new understand what is going on is Giant-Size X-Statix #1. The story jumps between the two different teams, revealing the machinations of both groups. One, the X-Cellent who are storming ahead in regards to their popularity and how they are planning to overthrow their rivals. And then there is our traditional group in X-Statix, the dysfunctional group of reality tv superheroes, unable to compete. Placing the onus on an opposing team is interesting as it places the more famous group as the outsiders as if they are intruding. The momentum of the comic struggles to accelerate with a clunky first set of pages then ends before the flow evens out.

The chaotic content inside X-Cellent #1 is commonplace within this piece of the Marvel Universe. The media-centric storyline is very close to breaking the fourth wall, coyly experimenting with the theme of new media vs old: the internet against TV. But it isn’t just a social commentary comic. The comic beautifully combines shocking and gruesome scenes of violence with a really funny, silly attitude. The humor is ridiculous yet intelligently written before a real gut punch ends the first issue. 

The characters and the dialogue are one of the saving graces of this first issue. New characters are blended with old as different generations of Mutants come to blows. Arguably the main character of the book is Zeitgeist. One of the first members of the original group, his life has been affected by the severe alterations his body has been through. He is creepy and dangerous. Mister Sinister is his opposite, leading X-Statix even with shaky confidence. It is evident right from the opening issue that the egos of these two men will lead to many deaths. It cannot be said that any member of the superhero teams is especially good. All are fuelled by greed or pride or a longing for success. Most of the other characters will have a glimpse of personality, but they will not be around long enough to be of importance.

This is the same creative team that birthed X-Statix in 2001, and that includes the superstar artist. Michael Allred’s style is iconic and perfectly suited to the genre of X-Cellent #1. The cartoonish nature of the art is superb in addition to some intricate details. The faces of certain characters, Zeitgeist in particular, can draw out very specific reactions from the reader. The way the comic looks almost disguises the fact that it can be monumentally gory. The newer designs of characters look fantastic, and it is great seeing cult figures like Doop return. They are in-depth without having an excessive amount of lines on them. The uniforms are synchronized between the teams with logos. Particularly with X-Statix, the costumes can look intentionally bad. 

Laura Allred is also crucial to the success of X-Statix thanks to her colors. The shades are bright without overwhelming. The tones are rich and vibrant, with primary and secondary colors taking center stage. The power of the colors fades when the team isn’t on camera, almost as if they aren’t as bright in real life.

The lettering is easy to read based on the size of the font, although the placement of word balloons can lead to confusion.

X-Cellent # 1 will be loved by returning readers, but rejected by those trying to jump in for the first time. The current story added with the expectation that we know what has already happened can be so much from the first half of the issue. The characters are fun and the themes inside the script work well, but the momentum of the comic is limp. It is fantastic seeing the creative team reunite, but ultimately this premier issue is disappointing.

X-Cellent #1 is available now wherever comic books are sold.


X-Cellent #1
3

TL;DR

X-Cellent # 1 will be loved by returning readers, but rejected by those trying to jump in for the first time. The current story added with the expectation that we know what has already happened can be so much from the first half of the issue. The characters are fun and the themes inside the script work well, but the momentum of the comic is limp. It is fantastic seeing the creative team reunite, but ultimately this premier issue is disappointing.