"X-Men," often referred to as "Adjectiveless X-Men," has floundered without direction for quite some time now. All that changes this month as Brian Wood and David López take over with "X-Men" #30 and miraculously make it a must read book in a single issue.
Wood works with a small cast here, one that is not as over-exposed as many other characters (read: Wolverine is not in this book), and it makes all the difference in giving the characters room to breathe and to assert themselves on the page. In fact, in this first issue every one of the five characters on the team gets a moment. A moment for you to get who they are, why they're here and also how badass they are. It's very good stuff.
There are two particularly great moments in Wood's story that separate it from so many superhero comics out there. It's not that the moments themselves are that unique, but contrasted against each other they are brilliant. On one page you have a strong character moment involving Storm deliberately lying to Scott Summers -- with all the subtext that comes with that moment -- and a few pages later you have the most epic full page sea monster rising and trying to yank their plane from the sky. This contrast of the epic and intimate is something Brian Wood does better than just about anyone else in comics, but I must confess it's truly exciting to see this skill benefiting the mainstream X-Men books.
David and Álvaro López's art is a dream. It's beautifully consistent and stunningly rendered. The layouts are smart and blissfully easy to follow without ever becoming boring. However, one of the most exceptional things about David López's art is each character actually looks like a character -- a real person with facial features distinctive from one another -- rather than the same person repeated over and over again but with different colored hair or costumes. It's almost shocking how refreshing it is. Most notable of course is that this is the first time in a very long while that I can recall seeing a Psylocke that actually appears Asian. It's nice to feel that these characters are being so well-considered and respected. You can feel the enthusiasm López has for them on the page like a living breathing thing.
With perhaps a few small exceptions, Rachelle Rosenberg's colors are very nice and equally as well-considered. Storm, Colossus, Psylocke, Domino and Pixie all happen to be characters that have very different coloring and Rosenberg really pays attention to it. It's attention to these small details that really raises the level of this book.
Wood's strong character work and lovely writing paired with López's gorgeous art that gets better with every book is an absolute recipe for success. When you add the fact that the two seem to be in superb synch you've got a near homerun on a book that less than a month ago was barely a blip on the radar.