First Impressions: X-Treme X-Men #1, National Comics: Eternity
By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder
Oh good, another X-Men book. I was concerned we didn’t have enough.
Alright, alright…this issue’s actually pretty good. Spinning off of Greg Pak’s run on Astonishing X-Men, X-Treme X-Men stars alternate versions of Wolverine, Emma Frost, Nightcrawler and the “regular” Marvel universe’s Dazzler as they team up to face 10 alternate versions of Charles Xavier as they wreak havoc on the multiverse. Apparently these Xaviers don’t need to be anything like the one we know, as this issue shows us in the form of a giant squid with a big brain sticking out of its cranium. Play THAT role, James McAvoy.
I like me a good multiverse story, so I’m interested to see what this book has to offer. Dazzler is a nice choice for the main protagonist, as she’s witty and reasonably confident, yet still flawed. I hear a bit of Kaley Cuoco from The Big Bang Theory when I read her.
Pak does a nice job of getting almost all the exposition out of the way in this issue without having to stop the story to tell us things. We don’t know exactly who James Howlett, Emmeline Frost-Summers and Kurt Waggoner are up front, but we get the gist that they’re alternate versions of the heroes we know, and that Cyclops knows them from a previous story. Dazzler has a nice introduction, and when coupled with a rather long line of expository dialogue later in the issue, we know all we need to know about this “former drug addict mutant disco queen with daddy issues and a single hit record to her name.”
It can certainly be argued, though, that some of Pak’s dialogue comes off as corny. The best example in this issue is when Dazzler us using her powers to fight off the giant squid, and with guitar in hand she says: “This B-side totally rocks.”
Stephen Segovia gives us some really interesting visuals as well. On the very first page (shown right) we see Kurt connected via Cerebra to several floating orbs containing Charles Xavier heads as they try to teleport billions of people to another planet. That’s a pretty hot opener. In addition to the big-brained squid, the cliffhanger for next issue is another great image.
I’m not as familiar with Marvel’s multiverse as I should be, but perhaps that’s what’ll make this book an interesting look. After all, just about anything is fair game in stories like these, even a giant squid. Insert your own Watchmen/Ozymandias joke here…
Between Animal Man, Sweet Tooth and Justice League Dark, Jeff Lemire is pretty hot right now. So it was a pretty solid bet that this one-shot in which he re-imagines of Kid Eternity, a character that dates back to 1942, would be a good read. That bet paid off big time.
Quick history lesson: Kid Eternity was created in 1942 as a character for Quality Comics. He could call upon any good historical or fictional person or animal by saying the word “Eternity.” He could also make himself intangible or invisible. In the ’70s, he showed up at DC as a supporting character for Captain Marvel, and his true identity was changed to Chris Freeman, brother of Captain Marvel Jr./Freddy Freeman. In the ’90s he was re-imagined by Grant Morrisson with a much darker tone and some demonic twists to his powers. Ironically enough, the character was killed off not once, but twice before Flashpoint and the New 52 changed everything.
Also, National Comics was a prominent title published by Quality during the golden age of comics, until the company’s assets were purchased by DC. Apparently DC is now going to use the National Comics title to published oversized one-shots which introduce new/revised characters, almost like TV pilots. The concept is off to a great start, as I’d gladly pick up another Kid Eternity story.
Lemire and Cully Hamner pitch Kid Eternity not as a superhero, but as an average joe whose ability to speak to the dead for up to 24 hours after their death helps him succeed at his job as a coroner. Right off the bat, that makes for a book that’s very different than most of the stuff being published at DC or Marvel right now. It feels like something that Image might publish, or at the very least DC’s Vertigo imprint. It’s a breath of fresh air, in my book.
Chris Freeman (still Freddy’s brother?) is a perpetually tardy introvert left with daddy issues after managing to survive a shooting that somehow gave him his powers, yet took his father’s life. He’s also trying to work up the courage to talk to the cute girl in the office. This issue gives us one of the most relatable protagonists we’ve seen in some time, by virtue of his multiple layers of accessibility. If you can’t connect with his daddy issues, you’ll connect to his girl problems, his boss anxiety, or whatever else he has going on.
In this issue Chris investigates the murder of a middle aged store owner, alongside the victim’s spirit. It’s a bit reminiscent of a Deadman story, which Lemire even alludes to at one point. But Chris has more of a down on his luck regular guy vibe to him, which would obviously be one of the book’s major selling points if it were to ever become a series. He’s more a guy playing detective than he is an actual detective.
The National Comics oversized one-shot format allowed Lemire and Hamner just right right amount of space to be creative, and tell their story, while still leaving us wanting more. Lemire continues to amaze, and Hamner is great as always. This issue definitely deserves a look, and I’m anxious to see what comes next!
Front page image from ifanboy,com Interior image 1 from leagueofcomicgeeks.com. Interior image 2 from comixology.com.