Even with a war event looming large, ‘Immortal X-Men’ stays true to itself as a series with another powerful character study issue that showcases one of the best ways to approach doing an event tie-in issue. Gorgeous and wonderful, the artwork has the same but different energy from the last issue as it takes on the feeling of the spotlight character in the best ways possible.
The Eternals have engaged in open warfare against the mutants of Krakoa and Arrako, striking first in very brutal ways. One of their first targets in A.X.E: Judgement Day #1 was the Quiet Council, and now we get our first view of what fully went down during that attack.
There are a ton of different ways to approach doing a tie-in story for a major comic book event, but to me, one of the best is where a story ties into the main narrative of the event while not losing its own identity or storyline. We very much get that with Immortal X-Men #5, which is easy to pull off since Kieron Gillen is the writer of this series as well as the overall Judgement Day event. With the Eternals waging a psychic war upon the Council, it was a perfect issue to focus on Exodus and therefore continue the theme of devoting each issue to a different council member.
Nightcrawler is the character that most think about when it comes to a mutant with religious ties, but I would wager that Exodus is actually the better character to do this with. Mostly because with Kurt it often feels like something tacked on, whereas over the years since his debut we’ve seen that this system of beliefs, altered to fit his own situation, is very key to who Exodus is as a person. Especially his continued search for someone to be a messiah, having recently focused on Hope as the true messiah over those like Magneto or Apocalypse who are very flawed beings in their own ways.
One aspect that I really appreciated was the difference between Exodus when it comes to thought versus actual talking that was on display. Verbally he says very little within the actual issue, choosing his minimal words carefully, while within the captions/thoughts he is dropping so much information here. There are tons of captions across the pages, but Clayton Cowles makes sure that they work, following around the action and never overwhelming. There is a regal sort of energy coming off those captions too, which is befitting in how Exodus presents himself.
Cowles does such a good job with the rest of the dialogue at doing little things that make the feeling or tone/volume of a character’s words very clear. Either by shrinking or growing the text or changing the shape of the bubble, or other little flares that bring the correct bit of emphasis and power to the words.
Not only do each of these issues narratively focus on different characters, but that different character focus brings such different looks. Placing this issue next to the Emma Frost one that was the last issue, you can see the stylings of Michele Bendini and David Curiel within the artwork but the way it’s presented is so unique. Both gorgeous and a delight to behold, with small differences befitting of the character that is being followed.
Bendini does fabulous work capturing the emotional and character aspects, as well as the action, but I really like the inspired choices for paneling here. The way that the flashbacks/dream moments are incorporated and played out alongside the real-world stuff is just so cool. From diagonal slashed panels to panels over panels, to a really great set of six small close-ups that play with the time right before the telepathic attack from the Eternals.
Curiel brings a great energy with the colors, giving plenty of bright popping flashy greens and yellows and purple/pinks in various panels that really bring focus to the character/action at play. While also bringing a heaviness and shadowy feeling to any given moment. It’s a great blend of the expected sort of superhero book color palette with one that is more ‘normal’ in a sense to what we tend to see on a regular basis.
Immortal X-Men #5 is now available from Marvel.