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X-Men: First Class #8

Posted: Thursday, April 26, 2007
By: Kevin Powers



“The Treasure Hunters”

Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Roger Cruz

Publisher: Marvel Comics


I have reviewed every issue of this series, and this is by far one of my favorite non-continuity mini-series of all time. After seven great issues, it is difficult to review this issue because of what’s coming next. This issue is kind of obligatory only because Jeff Parker and Roger Cruz have been tapped to turn this series into an ongoing title. Next month will feature a thirty-page special followed by the ongoing title for this concept. I am ecstatic over this news. I have always liked the X-Men, especially the original team, but since Chris Claremont’s run on most of the titles a few years back after Grant Morrison left, I lost a lot of interest; I must attribute some of that as well to the “infamous” Chuck Austen. Granted, Astonishing X-Men is the best X-book on the market, First Class is a close second. It’s also difficult to review because this issue could be the worst piece of trash ever but the excitement over this series becoming an ongoing would simply overshadow that fact if it were true.

Fortunately, this issue is not a piece of trash. Parker keeps the tone and the style of this series fluid throughout this final issue of series one. Many of the issues in this series have focused on “first encounter” type stories with the X-Men and the likes of the Lizard, Skrull, Thor, and Dr. Strange: characters that are all relatively popular but not at the level of popularity of Spider-Man or the X-Men. This issue features Gorilla-Man from Agents of Atlas. I’ve never read Agents of Atlas, and thus I have never been very familiar with Gorilla Man, but Parker has a way of intertwining these lesser known characters with the X-Men and giving them a common ground from which to interact. For all these characters, Parker briefly goes over their origins to give the reader some familiarity with the characters. This is much appreciated when it comes to Gorilla Man whose origin is covered basically and effectively in the span of about one page.

The X-Men are on a mission to find a lost Professor Xavier, or as Beast awkwardly called him, Dr. Xavier. That aside, Xavier is lost in the jungle, and through his M.I.A. status the true qualities of the X-Men really shine through: Jean Grey's developing powers, Cyclops’ overwhelming guilt about Xavier being lost, Angel’s connections with the rich and powerful, Beast’s scientific and strategic planning and explanations of Xavier’s predicament, and Iceman not necessarily seeing the severity of the situation. But it is a bit difficult to see the severity of the situation throughout this issue because Parker manages to keep the tone upbeat, and Cruz keeps his art bright and clear. Ultimately, it works for this title because this is the original X-Men team and we know that they will ultimately find their way out of any predicament, so this title can stray away from being too dark. And while readers may know the X-Men will get out of whatever situation, the real value of this series is demonstrated in many ways. This is the original and modernized incarnation of the team, and Parker has managed to capture the best qualities of the X-Men and present them in new fresh stories.

I also loved the characterization of Gorilla Man. I know of him but nothing about him so to see the way Parker writes the character defiantly piqued my interest. He’s a bit overly sarcastic, and it plays off of the pompousness of his alter-ego before he became a gorilla. But he plays off of the X-Men very well; he’s very intelligent and understands their powers and knows how to use them. He’s an outcast just like the X-Men, and he understands that the X-Men need guidance as they are going through their formative years, and he seems to happily step in.

It’s very difficult to say anything negative about this series; it's fun, it’s humorous and it is the X-Men as they were originally intended to be, just modernized. The best decision Marvel Comics could have made was to axe the sequel series and give this title the green light to be an ongoing. This has the potential to explore things that Stan Lee never could with the original team, and this title also has the potential to be the best X-book on the market.



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