AGE OF X-MAN: PRISONER X #1 by Vita Ayala, German Peralta, and Mike Spicer
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AGE OF X-MAN: PRISONER X #1 is what other comics strive toward.
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From what I’ve seen on social media (which isn’t really a good way to get a general consensus on things), no one likes AGE OF X-MAN. Tons of readers are finding the series tedious, boring, and a huge waste of time on Marvel’s part. I’ll agree, having to keep up with all the various miniseries is difficult. I’ll even concede that some of those miniseries have been a little underwhelming. However, I won’t say that the AGE OF X-MAN is a lost cause. My evidence is this week’s AGE OF X-MAN: PRISONER X #1.

Writer Vita Ayala and artists German Peralta and Mike Spicer are the pinnacle of a dream team and this first issue shows it. AGE OF X-MAN: PRISONER X #1 is thought-provoking without being unintelligible, beautiful without being overworked, and dark without being bleak. It is exactly what I, and probably a lot of people, wanted out of an AGE OF X-MAN series.

age of x-man prisoner x #1
AGE OF X-MAN: PRISONER X #1 Review / Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

 

Life in the Jailhouse

If you read AGE OF X-MAN: ALPHA #1, you know all about Bishop and Jean Grey’s star-crossed romance. In a world without love, kissing isn’t okay. Casually having sex with your teammate is a big no-no. Jean got a quick memory wipe but Bishop got a far worse punishment: a trip to the Danger Room Prison Complex.

AGE OF X-MAN: PRISONER X #1 sees a disoriented Bishop navigating his way through the hellish compound. We see a lot of familiar faces for the first time in the Age of X-Man reality, including Gabby, Polaris, and Beast (who’s become a raging psycho). We also see Dani Moonstar, who, according to UNCANNY X-MEN, is supposed to be on Earth-616 with the other leftover X-Men.    

age of x-man prisoner x #1
AGE OF X-MAN: PRISONER X #1 Review / Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

 

If that isn’t confusing (and exciting) enough, Ayala adds another satisfying twist: many of the prisoners, Bishop included, are getting their 616 memories back. Goodbye, perfect utopia, and hello neverending torment.

How to Craft a Perfect Story (In One Issue)

What I love most about AGE OF X-MAN: PRISONER X #1 is Ayala’s ability to put so much content into one issue without making it feel like a rushed concoction of a million different elements. Her timing (and Peralta’s layouts) keep the story at a pleasing pace for the entire issue.

Although the scenery doesn’t change (they’re in jail after all), Bishop goes through a lot. He meets a lot of people, gets beat-up in the lunchline, and has what’s probably the biggest revelation of his Age of X-Man life. For some writers, it would take three or more issues to make all of that happen. For Ayala, it only takes one.

age of x-man prisoner x #1
AGE OF X-MAN: PRISONER X #1 Review / Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

 

Of course, part of the commendation should go to Peralta. Although Ayala is the writer, it’s Peralta who manages to bring the story together visually in a limited number of pages. By cleverly using smaller panels and fewer full-page spreads, Peralta is able to say a lot without a lot of space.

The Evolution of Bishop      

I love the X-Men but, in all honesty, I don’t know a lot about Bishop. In most of my favorite X-Men series, he isn’t a starring character. Before reading AGE OF X-MAN: PRISONER X #1, I knew him as the guy who really hated Cable. Now, after reading this issue, he’s someone else entirely.

Ayala perfectly captures Bishop’s character in this issue. His solemnity, his amazing ability to stay calm (even in the worst situations), and, above all, his fear are clearly evident on every single page. From his fight with Beast to his clarifying conversation with Dani, Bishop as a character truly comes to life. If you weren’t a fan of Bishop before, you will be now.

age of x-man prisoner x #1
AGE OF X-MAN: PRISONER X #1 Review / Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

 

Beyond Complex

Very rarely does a well-written comic have art that’s just as good. Many of the recent X-Men series have fallen victim to this phenomenon (particularly DOMINO and X-MEN: BLUE). As readers, we need quality art to keep us entertained and enthralled with the story. Comics are as much art as they are writing.

Thankfully, AGE OF X-MAN: PRISONER X #1 delivers both from a storyline perspective as well as artistically. German Peralta and Mike Spicer are some of the best artists in the business. Peralta’s style is realistic (and always anatomically correct) without creeping into the uncanny valley. His work still looks like a comic book — just an incredibly well done comic book.

age of x-man prisoner x #1
AGE OF X-MAN: PRISONER X #1 Review / Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

 

Spicer is the kind of colorist every other colorist should look up to. You don’t really realize the huge impact a good colorist can have on a comic until you read something like this issue. His palette is uniquely diverse, meaning that instead of just using one or two shades of green for the prisoners’ uniforms, he utilizes many, creating a strong depth of field and more tonal shadows. In Spicer’s work, the sky isn’t just a blanket blue, it’s a sea of blue-greys, whites, and even some browns. To put it simply, he’s a creative colorist. We need more of those.      

AGE OF X-MAN: PRISONER X #1 Deserves Five Stars

If you’re one of the many who rejected this arc, you might want to read AGE OF X-MAN: PRISONER X #1. This is not your average comic, nor is it your above-average comic; it’s better than that. This is a really strong issue that could mark the beginning of a fantastic miniseries. Don’t skip it just because it’s part of the Age of X-Man line. If you love the X-Men and love good comics, then there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy AGE OF X-MAN: PRISONER X #1.

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