I remember my first comic book. I remember it well. January, 2001, X-Men #108 (vol. 2). I still have it actually. I read the hell out of it. I ended up stapling it together (horribly), as the pages began to fall out. And I didn’t even understand what I was reading. It was part IV or IV of the “Dream’s End” story arc. But it captivated me. It captivated me to continue reading comics, to continue collecting them, admiring them, and to respect the culture behind them. X-Men were my very first superheroes, and it’s because of the imaginative nature of their pocket of the comic book universe that became the gateway to the geek I am today. Now, I haven’t by any means kept up with X-Men outside of the movies except for mere cursory glances here and there, so I wanted to take some time and dive back in to that mutant warfare.
When I found out that Marvel was releasing a new all-original X-Men graphic novel (the first in over 30 years), I knew I’d eventually have to review it. Well, here I am. And for the most part, I really enjoyed it. It’s a (almost) completely self-contained adventure, unprinted in the pages of the Marvel’s monthly output. But I did find that some rudimentary knowledge of the brand was necessary for full enjoyment, much of which was due to the immense history the team has, and not all of it was explained in the narrative (which became frustrating at times). A prime example being why was Cyclops separated into his own faction of slightly more vigilantist do-gooders, instead of just siding along with the X-Men? Who were all the young/obscure mutants who were given prominent roles, and why weren’t we immediately introduced to their names/skill-sets? Questions like these did hamper enjoyment, and with a few more panels or pages for quick explanations would’ve made this an all-around great read. (One thing you should read to get some grasp on the book is X-Men: Battle of the Atom.)
The story revolves around the major titular plot device that, all of a sudden, no more humans exist. None. They’re all gone within an instant. Only mutants remain and the X-Men must figure out why that is and how to reverse it. Meanwhile, thousands of mutants from parallel earths begin sifting into their world, and the X-Men must also find ways to become peacekeepers with the hordes of newcomers.
Without giving too much away, the plot does give a reasonable explanation to the preceding chaos, and rather early on. But the eventual solutions to the issues at hand were shoddy, strange, and (odd-enough) too easy to take seriously. Even Wolverine thought it was “too easy.” Sometimes the story jumps about, not explaining enough, but occasionally it reached a solid level of hard sci-fi peculiarity that just mixed well in the whole scheme of things.
The art by Salvador Larroca was exceptional. Although, at times, the dark panels were just a tad too dark to see what was fully being illustrated, 98% of the rest was gorgeous. The highlights for me within this 128-page graphic novel were definitely found in the two-page spreads, as you can see in my featured image above. The ability to portray large groups, while still focusing on the expressions and details of the individual characters was fascinating. Unfortunately the cover art didn’t grab my attention, and is rather dull.
One thing I really appreciated was the extra material that came along after the story ended in the back of the book. There were a few pages dedicated to how the writer, Mike Carey, would dictate the script, and how the artist would render that. Many times you’ll see the artist took creative liberties while still abiding by the script, and that was very interesting to check out. This release also comes with a free digital download.
All in all, X-Men: No More Humans is an extremely fun, albeit flawed adventure, one I would recommend only to those familiar with the goings on of X-Men team in recent years. If not, it’s still a blast, that twists and turns and behooves me to become more acquainted with this team that, for me, started it all.