Today’s modern Comic Book-based property has reached a level of mass popular appeal that most long-time comic readers never imagined would be attained. Video games, TV series, and, yes, blockbuster movies have pushed comic book characters and stories past the confinement of those paneled pages and directly into the social subconscious. Now, pretty much everyone knows who Wolverine, Scott Summers, and Jean Grey are without having to ever pick up a single comic book issue, and those same people are coming to us long-time readers to garner new information and learn about different perspectives on characters we’ve known for years. I know I experience this all the time, and while it’s kind of strange to discuss comic books with somewhat knowledgeable people who have never actually read a comic book, the newfound popularity of the medium is exciting for everyone. This is not, however, a new experience for me.
Being a comic book reader since the late 1980s, I already had a strong relationship with X-Men comics well before the debut of what would soon be the wildly popular X-Men animated series, also known as X-Men ’92. This show had a huge impact on not only the popularity of the X-Men as a brand but on the popularity of comic books as a whole. Although I won’t go as far as saying the show represented a paradigm shift for an entire generation of non-comic book readers who were now slowly becoming comic book fans without ever opening a single comic book, before the premiere of X-Men I didn’t experience many people showing an interest in my hobby of choice. After the premiere, however, I was inundated with questions from my Junior High School classmates about these characters simply because I was the only one they knew with the comic book knowledge they desired. It was a pretty big deal having my peers finally interested in my passion, and the X-Men animated series became an important layover on my journey as a comic book geek. With great animation, amazing voiceover acting, and stories ripped right from the pages of comic books, X-Men was a fun supplement to my comic book reading, and, thankfully, Marvel’s summer blockbuster mega event Secret Wars has given the publisher the opportunity to allow fans to revisit this world, be reintroduced to these great characters, and go back in time. I really didn’t realize how much I had missed these characters until I read this comic.
Writers Chris Sims and Chad Bowers do a great job recreating the X-Men animated series for the comic book page, but do so without losing either the feel of that show or making the book feel like a book from the 1990s. The settings, the era, the overall feel, and especially the characters are perfect representations of their small screen counterparts, but the delivery definitely has a modern feel. From the scene at the mall, to the lazer tag party, to the distinctly different version of the Sentinels, this WAS the X-Men animated series I remember from my youth, expertly updated for this generation of comic book reader. The dialogue, although updated, is still full of 90s slang, and fans of the source material will certainly hear the original voice actors speaking as they read. While the main cast of X-Men is the focus of this opening issue, Sims and Bowers fill the ish with those memorable mutants from the 90s, and it’s just really cool to see Strong Guy, Cable, Toad, and the rest, horrible clothes and all.
Artist Scott Koblish’s style is perfect for this title, and although his style is remarkably contemporary, there’s a sense of nostalgia that creates an air of decades past without feeling antiquated. His action scenes are engaging, and the fight between Professor X and Cassandra Nova in the Astral Plane is a great example of the artist’s ability and creativity.
Jubilee is the most obvious go-to character to be the overarching star of this series, but she was never my favorite cast member of the series, and, just like that series, she seems to be more of a plot device to give readers a solid anchor in reality than an integral character. Shoehorning her into that Season 1 role yet again is redundant, boring, and although it hearkens back to the very first episode of the TV show this series is based upon, there was plenty of opportunity to really take things in a better direction. Cassandra Nova has always been a favorite X-villain of mine, but, in this particular case, her introduction to this 90s animated universe was, in a word, wonky. She’s just kind of dropped in our laps, described as the story goes along, yet, by the end of the ish, she’s seen putting Professor X in a psychic stupor. Again, the character seemed to not only be forced on readers with only a glancing explanation, but, with so many X-Characters to choose from, the introduction of a one that never even appeared in the 90s series was just no called for, and seemed (almost) inappropriate.
Koblish is near perfect on art, but a tactic used on several word balloons throughout the ish made me scratch my head. I’m sure it was simply a play at the mad censorship of the decade, but several balloons were crossed out with note attached suggesting the original contents of that word balloon were in some way inappropriate. What I’m assuming was meant as a joke, was truly more of a distraction than anything else, and it just didn’t need to be there.
I really felt like putting on a flannel, listening to some grunge music, and saying the “like”, like, way too often, while reading this book and it was a great feeling. It’s seldom that a team of comic book creators can make you feel nostalgic for a TV show that was based on comic books. This amazing feat, however, was not pulled off perfectly, but those small missteps barely take away from the enjoyment of X-Men ’92 #1. If you’ve even been a fan of that old series you’ll definitely not want to miss this ish, but there’s really something enjoyable from anyone who’s even been a fan of Marvel’s Mutants and the X-Men.