Wednesday, December 3, 2008

X-Men Noir #1

X-Men Noir #1
Written by Fred van Lente
Art by Dennis Calero
Lettering by Blambot's Nate Piekos
Published by Marvel Comics

Think Chinatown elements mixed with Marvel's premier mutant group. X-Men Noir displaces versions of Marvel's premier group of mutants into a 1930's world ripe with corruption and distrust, much like any great noir story. As powerless vigilantes, the X-Men of this world serve more as realistic analogs of their usual selves, such as the sharp-shooting Cyclops, the diamond thief Iceman or the "Creole Club" owner Gambit.

The issue opens with the mysterious murder of Jean Grey, where we see she has "slash marks along the lower and upper groups of three." Sound like anybody we know? Apparently, Jean is a member of what the cops call "X-Men", which is their term for students who go to Charles Xavier's reform school. In this universe, Professor Xavier is an exiled psychiatrist who supposedly teaches his pupils how to be better criminals instead of reforming them. In turn, he makes them fugitives of the law and sort of marked men.

Dennis Carelo's art is superb. His use of dark colors and shadows really set the tone and suit the title well. Fred van Lente's reconfiguring these characters is very clever and, dare I say, cool? The two creators mesh amazingly and the story flows easily from panel to panel. The interesting thing is that similar to Marvel's masterpiece Marvels, the point of view isn't told through the heros or villains, but the everyday man; a detective, Thomas Halloway.

I'm trying not to give too much away since there are little winks and nudges to fans that make the book quite enjoyable. I am a fan of this genre and have anticipated this release for quite sometime. My main question for Marvel is whether they will do more "Elseworld"-esque stories in a similar vein as this one. They had massive success with 1602, and this has potential to be the next big thing. Along with X-Men Noir, there will be Spider-Man and Daredevil titles to come later next year.

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