Showing that this new era of X-Men isn’t content to rest on its laurels, X-Men #5 brings back one of the most shocking elements of the relaunch’s first issue. It’s a plot line that will affect the X-gang for months to come, especially two mainstays in particular…
Jonathan Hickman, RB Silva, Marte Gracia, Clayton Cowles and Tom Muller tell the tale of the greatest threat to Krakoa- the Vault.
In X-Men #1, the team unexpectedly encountered Serafina, one of the Children of the Vault, captive in an Orchis facility. Weeks later, they catch up to her just before she reaches the Vault, but are unable to stop her. Now, the X-Men’s only hope to stop her and her allies falls on the shoulders of three of Krakoa’s youngest citizens.
It’s not a stretch to say this is the best issue of Hickman’s X-Men to date. It’s not any one thing that makes it stand out among the others either. This issue is a nearly perfect synthesis of each element of the run so far, from Silva and Gracia’s welcome return to the line to a data page that is not only essential but also is a heartbreaking short story on its own. It’s also impressive how much emotion he packs into the issue, from the aforementioned data page, to Laura Kinney’s perfectly written attitude, to the shocking cliffhanger that wraps the issue. Cowles and Muller use their considerable prowess right along with that, ensuring the big moments all land thanks to balloon placement, narration design, and the data pages.
Combining all those things gives us an issue of X-Men that shows us the full extent of not just the Dawn of X but the potential that lies in all the toys that are in the X-Men toybox. The Children of the Vault are one of the best concepts introduced to the line in the last fifteen years, and Hickman explores them in a way to make them a credible and terrifying threat again. Then he expands that by picking three members to act as a recon team, giving each of them a connection to the reader before walking into the Vault- perhaps setting up one of the most tension filled cliffhangers in a comic in a long time.
Silva and Gracia make their welcome return to the line here, for their first issue back since Powers of X. They add an emotional punch to the story, especially with Silva’s talent for body language and expression. We’re able to see what the characters are feeling, even as the dialogue is pointing us in one direction or the other. It’s a welcome change, and I hope to see their work back on the title quickly.
The X-Men has been put in their most difficult position since the Krakoan era started. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
X-Men #5 is available now from Marvel Comics.