It’s been a long time coming (especially if you’re going by its original solicits) but just over a year since its debut, "The Children’s Crusade" might finally be over. Wanda has her memories and powers back, she’s reunited with her children, and the effects of M-Day might finally be reversed. It’s such an enjoyable read, it’s easy to forget there are still several issues left to go...
It’s hard to pin down exactly what’s so great about this comic. Allen Heinberg has an almost innate understanding of how to construct a superhero story that appeals to Marvel fans, juggling characters and continuity while making it look easy. Maybe it genuinely is easier to be impressive when you’ve got unlimited access to every toy in the box at once. Or maybe it's the presence of an artist as stunning as Jim Cheung. Whatever the source of such alchemy, “The Children’s Crusade,” once again, shows us how comics should be. Breathtaking, not just once an issue, but every few pages.
Perhaps the most obvious skill of the Heinberg/Cheung pairing is their ability to juggle so many teams and characters. There are a lot of people in this book, and splash pages aside, it takes skill to justify their presence and write them distinctly. There’s a fair amount of exposition going on in the earlier scenes, so it’s imperative that every speech balloon is as enjoyable as it is informative -- and it is.
X-Factor fans will no doubt be delighted to see the team interacting with the big names of the Marvel universe, and to see the team’s initial mandate -- to discover the truth behind M-Day -- being given a nod. It would have been easy to brush their role aside (the team has always been on the fringes of the Marvel Universe as it is) but here, they are afforded proper respect, and a plot development that will undoubtedly have a huge impact on the series.
It’s almost surprising that so much happens in this issue. Developments that some writers might have teased out for multiple issues -- The Scarlet Witch recognizing Wiccan and Speed as her children, attempting to reverse her spell, the X-Men and Avengers both catching up with her – may lack timeliness, but make up for with pace. Indeed, so much happens, and the resolution comes so easily, that we can only assume there’s a big twist coming. Rictor may be the person to watch for that.
Literally, the only bad thing about "Children’s Crusade" is that the wait between issues means it’s sometimes hard to remember how the last cliffhanger ended. Of course, when a series is this good, going back to re-read the earlier stuff isn’t exactly the chore it could be. If it keeps up this level of quality to the end (and it’s likely to), then when the series are collected and the delays forgotten, it’s going to make for a fantastic read. It does even now.