YOU KNOW HOW TO KEEP AN X-MEN TEAM A SECRET?

Feb 7, 2022

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Does the individual responsible for the formation of a superhero team by default become the team’s first member? Honestly, I believe it is a bit of a slight to overlook this individual. Especially when you consider more often than not the team’s creation is tied to that individual’s personal agenda. That doesn’t mean I’m lobbying to have Loki on the statue outside Avengers Mansio…Mountain, but the conversation opens the door for the argument that Charles is the first X-Man/Person. Now writer Tini Howard brings together a “special” group of mutants for a mission. But as Secret X-Men # 1 indicates it seems both the mission, and more importantly the team’s membership, is on a need to know basis.

Secret X-Men # 1

Marvel Comics

Writer: Tini Howard
Artist: Francesco-Mobili
Color Artist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Roberto DaCosta is no stranger to leadership or secrecy having led the U.S. Avengers as Citizen V. Still what gets him into most of his adventures is attempts to charm the hearts of ladies. These attempts are rarely as successful as he would hope, as this issue proves. Roberto quickly discovers what he sees as “the best night of his life” quickly turns into a Deathbird threesome. She is seeking the X-men’s assistance in protecting the Professor’s daughter, Xandra.

Luckily, the “leader of the X-Men” doesn’t have to look far for members for his team. In case you missed it, last year’s Hellfire Gala featured a vote to give one mutant membership on Cyclops new X-Men team. While the vote ultimately went to Polaris, it seems the other entrants didn’t let that moment put a damper on their evening. As an email Roberto sends to the others indicates the night culminated in a complimentary celebration among the contestants. Now finding himself not wanting (or willing) to risk disappointing Deathbird, Roberto puts out the familiar call. Ironically his team leaves off one crucial power which becomes a bit of a running joke.

To Me My “Secret” X-Men

Sometimes something can seem simple on the surface when in fact it’s quite complex. Take the Hellfire vote for instance. With only one vote how could we choose from so many qualified candidates? I feel the same way when I take into account the events of this issue.

With the exception of maybe two characters the rest of this roster has proven they are ready for the “big leagues” at least a dozen times. So while there is a mission that takes place, I can’t shake how much this feels like a memo. Presenting the potential and power that each of these mutants holds. Maybe you only know Polaris, well this issue shows what Marrow and Tempo can do. It is at these moments that Francesco-Mobili and Jesus Aburtov dazzle with audition worthy action for each member. The artist also unveil the newest, and possibly most stylish X-team uniform to date.

Unfortunately while this issue highlights each members amazing abilities similar attention isn’t shown to their actual personalities. Howard does a fabulous job presenting the bond that has existed since boarding school with Sam and Roberto. The dialogue given to these two characters is a testament to their individual growth and the longevity of their friendship. However this treatment didn’t extend to all team members. Much of the character development individuals like Guido and Tabitha have gone through isn’t conveyed. Instead they read like they were reverted to their 90s caricatures. I was glad to see Forge acting more like his X-Factor personality over the version we are seeing in X-Force these days.

While I enjoyed the opportunity as a fan to see my selection as an X-Men that is what makes this issue feel “lost” in a sense. First the timing is somewhat off, being almost a year since their failed X-Men bids. So while the team might work well together at least one member has already shipped off. Also the very title presents the a problem of longevity for the team. Very few “secret” or “undercover” teams remain that way for long. Still I have to admit that given the enormous amount of mutants to work with today many fan favorites aren’t getting showcased. (Maybe Wanda was on to something)

So for me Secret X-Men # 1 is a service to fans of those who failed in the bid to be X-Men. Their actions this issue prove they are X-Men and heroes. Even if they can’t tell anyone about it.

Score: 8.1

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