"Date Night: Part 1"
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artists: Tom Raney (p), Scott Hanna (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
When I first found out that Kirkman was taking over Ultimate X-Men, I was cautiously optimistic. Some might say that I had no reason to be hesitant. Walking Dead, Invincible and Marvel Team Up and the other Kirkman titles speak for themselves sure, but after Vaughn's brilliant run I was worried if Kirkman could really keep up with all the different themes and levels that was added to the series.
Well he has kept up, marvelously.
In his debut issue, the X-Men all take a night off, and Kirkman has skillfully used this to further the characters own separate stories. Nightcrawler begins to feel alone, Jean becomes frustrated with her shy boyfriend and overpowering telepathy. Also Logan and Storm hit the town to vent some steam, and Iceman and Rogue heat things up again in their own way. Even Kitty runs off to spend some time with Spidey. Most interesting, however, is Xavier's plans for the evening. After losing favor with Fury and SHEILD, he has be forced to look for other means of finance and enjoys a meal with the beautiful Lilandra of the Church of Shi'ar Enlightenment. The idea of the Shi'ar being some kind of religion (possibly a cult) is a great spin on the original incarnation and those of you who are X-Man fans of old you may gather an idea of what's to come. But to Kirkman's credit, not enough is revealed, to be sure. What we have is a book that jumps from many different stories without any disorientation and maintains a healthy pace. Each story is interesting and unique to the characters, and this has allowed Kirkman to create the potential for some real character development. Of course, for Wolverine the appearance of Sabertooth really just promises some thumbs up action in the next issue, something that I must say is a little light in this one.
After seeing Raney's work in the Annual, I was pleased to see he had been picked up for the ongoings. While some might argue that his work looks basic or even bland, I would say that his crisp and clear style suits the individual team members perfectly. Scott looks the clear cut Boy Scout, Logan the hairy biker and Rogue as cute as ever. Nice work.
After reading the first of Kirkman's and Raney's Ultimate X-Men, I can safely say with confidence that this book shall stay on the top of my list for a few months to come. Great characterizations built on funny and just downright cool individual stories, coupled with a great promise of what's to come and solid artwork, Kirkman's X-Men is a winner and for this old fan, it's one heck of a relief.
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