Writer: Jeff Parker
Artists: Roger Cruz (p), Victor Olazaba (i), Val Staples (colors)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
“Bottom line is that this title is one of the best X-books you can buy, and I would highly recommend you pick up the back issues before they are hard to find.”
That was the last sentence of my review of X-Men: First Class #4. With the latest issue of this fantastic mini-series now on the shelves, absolutely nothing has changed. Jeff Parker has created one of the best X-Men limited series in recent memory, and he’s done it without Wolverine and without a planet-eating entity but with only the original five X-Men. Each story has been its own entity, and the X-Men have encountered everyone from the Lizard to Dr. Strange. I was never a big fan of Dr. Strange and usually stay away from things involving the character, but Jeff Parker did a fantastic job with the X-Men’s interaction with him last issue that I couldn’t help but love it. This issue, as the cover indicates, the X-Men meet the Mighty Thor. Again, I am not a fan of Thor, never have been, and I’ve never really been able to get into the character, but going into this issue, I put my faith in Jeff Parker to deliver a great tale of the X-Men and the God of Thunder.
I don’t like to dabble too much in Asgard and in the realm of Thor. Frankly, I find it all confusing, and there’s a little too much going on for my taste. However, this issue delves right into the Thor mythos as the X-Men battle Ulf, the ice troll. If this were any other book I might place this to the bottom of my reading pile and debate whether or not I really want to read it. But throw in the original X-Men team, Roger Cruz’s great artwork and Jeff Parker’s entertaining and brilliant writing and you’ve got yourself a fan! The Vanir, a group of Norse gods, have taken a strong interest in Iceman and his powers and wish to acquire young Bobby Drake.
While battling the Ice Troll, the X-Men are attacked by the Vanir, and they kidnap Bobby. Amidst trying to figure out exactly what happened, a blond-haired man with a limp approaches the X-Men. The man is Donald Blake! This is one thing I love about this series; everything just seems so pure and untainted. We are given the five original X-Men as well as a pure Thor, pre-death, pre-Civil War clone. Blake does not reveal himself as Thor but assists the X-Men in tracking down the Vanir in what appears to be the Antarctic. The Vanir are trying to use Iceman’s powers to awaken Ymir, the frost giant. Seeing as how I know nothing about Norse Mythology, this issue was done so well that I hit Wikipedia to brush up on my Norse Mythology and gave myself a brief education. When a comic book tells a story compelling enough to do that, I’d say you’ve got yourself a winner.
The Vanir try to control the monster they have awoken, and when Ymir simply backhands the Vanir, Donald Blake unleashes his fury and the Mighty Thor appears in magnificently drawn, inked and colored splash page. As mush as I am not a big Thor fan, that moment is what comic books are really all about. Cruz’s work is similar to Scott Kolins’ except a little more bright and clean. With Thor now officially in the picture, the X-Men and the Mighty Thor battle the frost giant.
One thing Jeff Parker has kept consistent through the first five issues of this series are the personalities of each one of the X-Men. They are all teenagers, and they are all essentially Xavier's soldiers, but Parker manages to keep them calm during their battles. There are plenty of humorous quips and moments during otherwise dire circumstances. For example, when Beast is latched onto a block of ice and saves Jean Grey, he mentions that his feet are numb. Running out of options Cyclops says “I bet Thor has a plan.” To me that whole panel was both serious and humorous. Obviously, the X-Men are in danger, but the fact that the dialogue is what it is in such circumstances just adds some humor to the mix (not to mention Iceman creating a perch for Angel to sit in as the frost giant has made flying near impossible).
Thor finally steps in and sends the frost giant to a nether realm of Asgard. When the battle ends, Thor approaches Iceman, and we are given the moral of the story. It’s a good point, and it’s crucial in the development of the X-Men because a god tells them that they need to be responsible with their powers. Citing that Ymir was once “human” like Bobby Drake suggests that Thor is advising the young X-Man to follow the old saying “with great power, comes great responsibility.”
I’m excited for the sequel series coming off of the success of this title. What I love most about this title is that it works in the same way DC’s Confidential endeavor works. These are modern stories with classic and original characters before any Civil Wars or Crises ran rampant through comicdom. Easily topping the list next to Whedon and Kyle Yost's works, this title has me screaming for an ongoing series and for Jeff Parker and Roger Cruz to take the reigns of all three main X-Men titles once Joss Whedon steps down.
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