IvX 1

ivx1

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing IvX 1, originally released December 14th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: Last month’s IvX 0 did a fantastic job of summing up the conflict between the Inhumans and the X-Men and showing why their going to war was only a matter of time. Charles Soule, Jeff Lemire, and Leinil Francis Yu’s IvX 1, though, is the issue where that powder keg finally ignites into all-out war, and war…well, war is ugly. IvX 1 plays up the fun of watching these two groups duke it out, but also the pain and sadness inherent in its scenario.

Beast’s revelation that the Terrigen cloud is losing its cohesion and will soon make the Earth entirely uninhabitable to mutant life has forced the X-Men’s hand; they’ve put Emma’s plan into action, which first means targeting and taking down key Inhumans. These type of match-ups are my jam — I love figuring out which characters are uniquely qualified to take out other characters — and the most entertaining of these scenarios has got to be Black Bolt’s. He’s described in this issue as a “walking atomic bomb,” yet he’s taken down by Dazzler, one of the most (unfairly) maligned mutants, because she’s able to absorb and redirect the power of Bolt’s prodigious voice. It’s a beautiful reversal.

Part of the appeal of IvX is watching these match-ups go down, but Soule, Lemire, and Yu don’t hold back from showing the more horrific consequences of the X-Men’s actions either.

bye-bye-ship

Any readers of All-New Inhumans have spent a lot of time in that airship Magneto just destroyed; I know I was surprised at how upset and sentimental I got watching it get torn to shreds. Like the rest of the X-Men, Magneto hasn’t killed any of the Inhumans yet, but casualties on either side are a definite possibility. I think the creative team are trying to show us that, if we’re going to enjoy the action, we have to be prepared for the consequences as well.

Since this is war, those consequences will likely only get more ugly as we go, but things actually start to get ugly before the war even begins.

betrayal

Coming from Storm of all people, that hurts. I’m not even arguing the morality of Storm’s decision to join Emma’s plan; I’m more interested in the actual act of betrayal. Of all the currently active, alive X-Men (and it’s the X-Men, so yes, I need to clarify that), I feel like Storm is the one we depend upon to be our moral center, the voice of reason and fairness. She was even the biggest proponent for working with the Inhumans when all this Terrigen stuff first went down. The threat of extinction has pushed her to take a course of action she would have found unspeakable a few months ago, but more sadly, it’s lead to her lashing out against a trusted friend because he could bring the whole plan crashing down. These, sadly, are the consequences of war.

Storm’s “betrayal” also seems to imply that neutrality is no longer a viable option for any mutant or Inhuman (there’s always consequences for neutrality in wartime). I’m curious to see what that may mean for some of the more fringe members of both communities; I’m thinking specifically of Ms. Marvel, who puts in a fun cameo this month. Kamala is an Inhuman and tends to support them when she can, but she’s also not a citizen of New Attilan or part of Medusa’s inner circle; she lives firmly in the human world and has a different perspective than most Inhumans. She’s even on a team (the Champions) with young Cyclops right now! For space reasons alone I don’t know if this is something we’ll see addressed in this series, but I’d certainly be interested if the creative team did get around to it.

One ironic facet of this issue is the fact that the majority of the cast has now chosen and resolved themselves to the idea of war just as the possibility of a compromise may have finally opened up.

terrigen-dispersing

My problem with the Terrigen cloud pretty much ever since Infinity has been the idea that, if it’s such a big problem, why don’t they find a way to capture it and get the Terrigen back? I’m assuming the fact that it’s sacred to the Inhumans is why they’ve refused to interfere with the cloud or its path until now, but the thing is, that’s no longer an option. The Terrigen cloud is dissolving and saturating the atmosphere, one way or another. That will make the Earth uninhabitable for mutants, but what will it mean for the Inhumans? Will it mean that they can no longer undergo Terrigenesis, or will it mean Inhumans would automatically transform just by going outside into the Terrigen-saturated atmosphere, meaning they’d have to keep young Inhumans not yet ready for Terrigenesis locked indoors somehow?

Either way, that’s not something the Inhumans would want. The mutants and the Inhumans really should have a common goal: getting that cloud contained and out of the air before it vanishes forever. At this point, though, the two groups are too dead-set on war to see the possibility, and the only man objective enough to propose the idea just got electrocuted. I’m super interested to see if the possibility ever comes up, if compromise and cooperation can even be considered at this point, or if there’s simply too much momentum behind this war for anything to stop it now.

Patrick, I didn’t get a chance to talk about the art of Leinil Francis Yu — any thoughts? And what’s your take on this war now that we’re in the thick of it?

Patrick: Yu’s one of Marvel’s ringers for sombre cross-over events. He was the artist that gave us the main Infinity series – a story that Spencer mentioned as one of the catalysts for the release of the Terrigen cloud. There are so many huge institutions in play, on both the X and I sides, that it’s nice to see the artistic contributions of someone who was there when Black Bolt released the cloud onto the world in the first place. I think that idea of authority is important to this series. Yu’s artwork stakes a claim on the Terrigen cloud, Soule’s writing stakes a claim on the Inhumans and Lemire’s writing stakes a claim on the X-Men. All three of these men have been instrumental in putting these factions at odds with each other, and the fact that they have to unite to tell the story of how it all falls apart is compelling as fuck.

And Yu doesn’t just bring his past with him to this series, his line-heavy style goes a long way toward making everyone feel so much older and more tired than they would otherwise. These characters are weary from a lifetime of defending their right to exist, and this is one more exhausting obstacle to overcome. Old Man Logan’s inclusion in the X-Men war room is genius: even if I’m not totally clear on what sub-group of mutants he’s representing, his ultra-worn-out perspective is emblematic of the mutant struggle. Check out the scene where they all weigh in how to proceed – Yu doesn’t fuck around, we only see the character’s faces.

xmen-so-old

Not even young Hank McCoy (who is like 20 in this drawing) looks like he’s ready to take on the world with his fresh-faced optimism anymore.

I’m sure aging them up goes a long way toward making the mutants sympathetic in this issue. Like, if they were all young, exuberant and full of life, their preparations for war would make them a lot more horrifying. In fact, I think the way this issue is structured borrows heavily from crime movies in order to build on our sympathies for the heroes of those movies. Take the most prominent heist flick of the last 30 years: Ocean’s Eleven. Charming though the Eleven may be, they’re fucking thieves. We’re rooting for bad guys, partially just because it’s so rewarding to be in on their scheme. That’s what happens here: Emma explains how her plan will work and we cut to the plan already in action. Soule and Lemire pepper in some out-of-sequence panels that appear to telling the Inhuman side of the story, only to later have it be revealed that we are getting the lead-ins to the individual threads of Emma’s plans. Dazzler in the Quiet Room, Magneto in Chechnya, Jean Grey in the Tower of Wisdom – it’s all perfectly seeded before we know what Emma has been planning.

Spencer’s right to praise the confrontation between Dazzler and Black Bolt. Yu’s drawing is appropriate imposing and David Curiel’s coloring balances perfectly between the gravity of the action and the cheesiness of Dazzler’s powers.

dazzler-destroys-black-bolt

But I think the preamble to this reversal is so much more powerful. Emma Frost is waiting in the green room for Black Bolt, calmly, collectedly drinking a glass of wine. She’s drinking red, but there’s a bottle of champaign in the room too. Naturally, it’s on ice.

ice-as-a-foreshadowing-tool

The only way Emma walks out of this room is by protecting herself from Black Bolt’s call, and this sly reference broadcasts how this is going to play out. On one side of the panel, ice, on the other, “the talking.”

This whole issue is a series of gutpunches, but they work so incredibly well because the storytellers are all masters. This is not some kind of grim crossover, where characters are pointlessly harvested to play on reader’s long-time affections – this is a story of meaningful, powerful loss. I’m almost worried to see what it looks like from the Inhuman side. So far, both this series and Death of X seem to have cast their sympathies with the Mutants. Well, now the Inhuman’s greatest strengths of the neutralized. The Mutants may have just lost their underdog status.

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?

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One comment on “IvX 1

  1. I don’t think I liked this issue. But for different reasons than I expected.

    My worry about IvX was that, especially after a year defined by superheroes fighting superheroes, IvX would feel ordinary. This year, we have had massive blockbusters and dark Netflix shows exploring this idea. And that was before Civil War II came along and utterly redefined what these stories could be.

    I’ve discussed before what Civil War II’s innovation is. But to go really deep, what Bendis did was fully commit to his ideas. Where things like Rhodey’s death would simply be used as a dramatic way to start events in your usual story, Bendis treats it as the most important thing. The iterations are felt with both Tony and Carol’s actions, and by the end of the story, it quickly becomes clear that the fight over Ulysses is a bit pointless and the only reason they are fighting is because Tony has had a nervous breakdown. Civil War II deconstructs itself and builds tragedy by exploring just how messed up things would have to be to have a Civil War. That it isn’t about righteous heroes clashing over philosophies, but broken people lashing out at a nearby target.

    And IvX had to do that. It couldn’t be Civil War II, but it had to fully commit. And for the case of IvX, to fully commit it had to in the opposite direction, and go into a full scale war.

    It chose a great inciting incident. The cleverness is that the characters were smart enough to find a compromise, one that didn’t lead to war. The Inhumans would protect mutants while fund efforts for a cure, and in exchange, they are allowed to keep their cloud. The problem isn’t that people are unwilling to compromise, it is that the ability to compromise is no longer on the table. War cannot be avoided.

    And the X-Men’s first moves are treated like a war. If you are going to fully commit to IvX, this is how you would do it. Major Inhuman threats are identified, and targeted so that the main X-Men army can conquer and occupy New Attilan. Does this mean they have done what I wanted? Not necessarily. This needs to continue. This war needs to get dirty. Get bad. And it needs to do this in the second act, where it is harder to do so (it is so easy to start a book off with a bang, then forget about it). Still, a better start than I was expecting, on that front.

    The real problem?

    ‘Oh yes, let’s banter. I simply love sitting in frigid metal conference rooms. It’s my very favourite thing’

    I simply read that line, and asked ‘What the hell is Emma doing here?’. From a Watsonian perspective, it is clear. She has every reason to be in this very important perspective. From a Doyalist perspective, why the hell would you just have your big, dramatic bomb just casually normalising us to her presence before she blows up the entire place. We know from IvX 0 (ah, another comparison with Civil War II. Just like Civil War II, IvX has three different beginnings, between Death of X, the 0 issue and this. We don’t need three beginnings in our comics. Didn’t help Civil War II, and it doesn’t help here) that Emma Frost has been preparing and making alliances, and we know that she is going to be the turning point. We know that the big turn is ‘we have all chosen Emma’. And yet, it is done so oddly here. So understated in a story that should be about big emotions.

    I like my understated performances when the time is right. But who can seriously say that the little vote they had – a vote that two people didn’t even get to express their viewpoint because it was too obvious – was more effective than a true bombshell moment.

    What we should have had is some combination of Storm shooting Beast and the vote. Let the moment where war is official be the moment that Beast realises that the rest of them were never on his side. The moment where the X-Men’s moral centre blasts Beast in the back was effective. But it felt like it should have been so much more effective.

    Maybe the leader of the X-Men’s war shouldn’t have been treated like any other member of this council. Maybe a vote on a topic that everyone else had already decided on was not the most dramatically appropriate option? Maybe Beast’s backstabbing should, as a betrayal by the X-Men’s most moral member, be surprising and not inevitable.

    There are several ways of doing this scene that would have been better. There is a way where Emma is at the meeting, but sits quiet. Doesn’t take part. But here is how I would do it.

    Emma isn’t at the meeting. Instead, Beast references her a lot. As Beast tries to persuade others that war with the Inhumans is suicide, Emma is referenced as what not to become. Maybe it could be something like ‘Have you seen Emma Frost lately? That is what war with the Inhumans means’. Or it could be ‘What, so you want to be like Emma? She’s lost it. Going to get everyone killed’. Emma is a constant topic, but not actually there. Meanwhile, the others are united, but uncertain. They all believe, to differing degrees, that something has to be done. Magneto is resolute, but Rogue is very doubtful. Storm is quiet. Beast tries his best to break the consensus, and feels like he has sown some doubt. He makes the announcement that he is going to go the New Attilan to end this silliness, and Storm strikes. And then, Emma walks in. Emma is the one who asks for medical attention, while Storm looks apologetic, and Emma reveals to Beast that she’d already talked to them. And they had accepted what needed to be done.

    That idea only has about 5 minutes of thinking, so needs a bit more work. But there has to be a better way to build up to Beast’s backstab than to spend most of the issue normalising us to the woman we know who is leading the war effort and having the shocking betrayal happen after a low key vote makes very clear that no one is on Beast’s side. There’s a lot of good stuff you guys say about the meeting itself. But the underlying dramatic structure is pretty broken.

    Which is unfortunate, because the scenes with the X-Men striking the Inhumans are almost uniformly great (I actually didn’t care for Dazzler beating Black Bolt. I swear the ‘Dazzler can exploit Black Bolt’s powers’ idea has been done multiple times, and felt obvious. I mean, they actually reference it as an idea done before. In the context of Black Bolt’s demise, I much preferred Emma Frost playing femme fatale, luxuriating in her control of the situation. My favourite takedown? While I love the spectacle of Magento’s destruction of the airship (and that is the sort of meaningful act that I was discussing when I discussed the need for this war to get dirty), my favourite is actually Jean Grey taking down Karnack. So clever. Give Karnack enough time, and he’ll beat anything. So the solution is elegantly simple. Trap him in a loop so that he never gets time to exploit the flaw.

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