Writer: Brian Wood
Illustrator: Oliver Coipel and David López
Publish Date: 2013
Rating: C –
I have extremely fond memories of the X-men from my teenage years and it’s still one of my favorite franchises to pick-up. I’ve always loved the social justice themes and how diverse the characters are. So, when I heard that there would be a run focusing on some of my favorite X-Ladies I got pretty freakin’ excited. Unfortunately, X-Men, Vol. 1: Primer did not live up to my expectations.
Jubilee is heading home with a baby she adopted when she notices she’s being followed. Freaked out, she calls the all female X-team on a payphone and they fly in to the rescue. Turns out the person who was following Jubilee is John Sublime. Johns is attempting to track down his sister before she spews death and terror all over the place and enlists the X-Team’s assistance.
I hate to say it, but this collection felt like it was pandering to what it thought a female audience would want to read and it did this at the expense of having an engaging plot and character development. This caused some serious imbalances in the way characters are portrayed and how the world appeared. One example is how Primer seems to err on the side of “No Boys Allowed” in order to focus on its female characters. In a world that is as diverse as X-men it does not make sense to have a team made up of only one gender. Like most things, it should be about balance. You can have men on the active team without having to automatically focus on them.
Also, I found it disappointing that a run concentrating on female X-Men is also choosing to latch onto a baby storyline. Dominating the collection are scenes of Jubilee with her new baby which thread the story with forced sentimentality and rather melodramatic angst. The scenes of Jubilee enjoying a day out on the town with junior as she strolls down memory lane, with a very G rated Wolverine at her side, were never ending. They came after the climax of the main plot and I’m still baffled at why they even exist. I got the idea that it’s supposed to show how Jubilee is maturing by taking on the responsibility of having a baby. I’m hoping that this plot gets dropped. There are a million other less cliched and more interesting ways this can be accomplished for her character. Honestly, I’m hoping that they return to the “baby is evil” idea that seemed to pop-up briefly in the beginning. I would definitely pick-up the second volume if the baby turns out to be evil incarnate.
All in all, I thought that X-Men: Primer had issues but it also has some potential. The series has some really great artwork by Oliver Coipel and lot of characters with interesting backgrounds to support it. But I would love to see Wood add some real conflict into the group and give them a morally complex issue to deal with. Towards the end of the collection it seemed like Wood was trying to insert some of this by having Rachel and Storm at odds. Their conflict came a little out of left field but I think it was an interesting idea. For now though, I don’t think I’ll be picking-up X-Men, Vol. 2: Muertas.