Our host for the latest X-book of the Krakoan era is Mr Sinister, that maddest of mad scientists. At the beginning of this debut chapter he’s in 1919, immediately after the Great War has ended. In Paris, Nathan Essex, the man who will eventually go by Mr Sinister, has a rendezvous with Irene Adler, the future Destiny. The precog warns him that conflict lies ahead.
A smidgeon over a century later, Mr Sinister and Destiny are members of the Quiet Council that guides the new mutant homeland of Krakoa. Founding father Magneto announces that he’s leaving to live on Arakko, the renamed Mars, where dwell the extraterrestrial mutants. Prominent residents of Krakoa present their case for Magneto’s seat at the table.
Two, in particular, are insistent they deserve a place at the top table. Witch Queen Selene…
… and resurrection woman Hope Summers.
Who would you choose? The Krakoans pick one, after a not particularly heated debate, sparking a definite reaction from the other. Said reaction is the only action moment in this extra-length issue, and most of that ensuing scuffle happens off-screen.
Because Immortal X-Men isn’t interested in big physical fights – writer Kieron Gillen focuses on the politics of Krakoa. The difference in philosophies among the mutants, whether natural born, like pretty much everyone, or self-made, like Mr Sinister. Like Selene and Destiny, he’s already lived several lifetimes, and he reckons the rest of the islanders, who have only just found a way to live again after death, could learn a thing or two from him.
Not that he’s offering to teach them. Oh no…
And his number one ‘evil scheme’? That’s something we learn in the last couple of pages, and it’s definitely a biggie, going to the heart of departed ‘showrunner’ Jonathan Hickman’s vision for the X-Men.
Gillen’s script is a delight, with Mr Sinister – a villain who generally has me running a mile, and not because he frightens me – a fantastic companion. His commentary on the Krakoans and their ways are always entertaining.
Basically, he’s camp as tits, Kenneth Williams in a nonsense cape.
I’m not terribly au fait with what’s been happening in the X-line – I still don’t know if Professor X is meant to be a goodie or a baddie, for one – but Mr Sinister is a splendid tour guide. I reckon I can follow this series without getting lost among a jungle of nameless power sets.
As with all X-books since the Hickman revamp, we have a few pages of text in between the comic pages, but Gillen makes it all a lot more fun than most. For example, Mr Sinister’s highlighting of English vs US spelling made me laugh.
Our writer also gets big points for dumping the old ‘Paris, France’ bit and realising precisely no one will think Mr Sinister and Destiny are in Texas.
The artwork is just beautiful. From the early 20th century opening to Mr Sinister’s projections to Selene’s magic, this is a real feast for the eyes. Lucas Werneck did a fine job on The Trial of Magneto, and his visuals are even better here, as enhanced by colour artist David Curiel. The twinkle in Mr Sinister’s eyes, the falling leaves in Paris, the sunset Selene admires… it’s details like this that give this book something extra, something beyond the fine storytelling. And I have to say, their Selene is seriously sexy.
Kudos, too, to Clayton Cowles for his sharp lettering, and Tom Muller for designing the infographics.
As for Mark Brooks, his wraparound cover is a thing of beauty… Brooks has been providing lovely images for Marvel for a long time, but he really has outdone himself here. It seems like a nod to Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, perhaps a hint that we’re entering the final phase of the Hickman X-era. The Messiah figure is missing, there’s just an empty chair with a Phoenix carving (some Krakoans consider Hope the Messiah, but I reckon she’s just a very naughty girl). Brooks dots mutant paraphernalia around the table, with luck someone will explain all the hidden meanings online… feel free to take that as a challenge!
As first issues go, this one – edited by Lauren Amaro and Jordan D White – is above average and I’ll be back next time to see where Mr Sinister takes us next. Maybe the Immortal X-Men will prove one for the ages.