Review: Open The Vault In ‘X-Men’ #18

by Tony Thornley

A year ago, three X-Men entered the Vault, an experimental space between spaces that was meant to create humanity’s next stage of evolution. This is their story.

Cover by Leinil Yu and Sunny Gho

Readers have been waiting since X-Men #5 to learn the fates of Synch, Wolverine and Darwin. Now, we get a glimpse into the Vault to see what happened to the trio. Naturally, it doesn’t go well, in an issue from Jonathan Hickman, Mahmud Asrar, Sunny Gho, Clayton Cowles, and Tom Muller.

Everett Thomas was still adjusting to his resurrection when he was called upon to join the squad infiltrating the Vault. On the first day, the trio had one mission- survival. It will be the fight of their lives.

We’ve been waiting for this issue for a year and Hickman delivers. This issue immediately dives into the trio’s first day in the Vault, and the opposition they faced. He builds the characters through their actions and by making Synch the POV character, it reintroduces readers to a character that’s been off the board for twenty years. Everett was a personal favorite in the nineties and the way Hickman builds the issue around him while also telling this actioner is exactly what he needs. 

The big downside though is that this story is severely decompressed. We know from X-Men #5 that centuries have passed within the Vault while only a few months have passed in the outside world. This issue only covers a single day. Thankfully we know a follow-up is on its way next issue, but it’s still frustrating after a year of waiting.

Asrar continues to show that he was the right artist to bring into the series. His characters are expressive and each are unique. In an early page, we see a conversation between several of the Children of the Vault, and he conveys volumes about each of them through just their body language. 

His action pages are inventive every time as well. He always opts for the more dynamic angles, and interesting movements. His take on Laura Kinney for example makes sure she moves differently than her father, while giving her that same angry menace.

Gho steps up his color work here. He gives the City an ethereal and unnatural glow, making the Vault and the Children feel artificial. Meanwhile, the X-Men are colored in softer shades and earth tones, giving the opposite impression of them. Cowles also does great work, playing with fonts and balloon styles to make the antagonists feel threatening but also call back to the AI driven enemies of HOX/POX.

This issue alone isn’t going to be satisfying for anyone looking for answers, but it’s an exciting start. I’m already anticipating where it’s going to go next month.

X-Men #18 is available now from Marvel Comics.


The series finally revisits the Vault and the creative team gives readers the first of the answers they want. It’s definitely not what most would expect.

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