X-Men: Kingbreaker #1

Written by Christopher Yost
Penciled by Dustin Weaver
Inked by Jaime Mendoza
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel Comics

I have to admit, it’s rather nice to see Marvel Comics having returned to embracing their outer space characters and settings these past few years. As a younger reader, I remember finding so many of their alien races and planets to be my cup of tea, and it was sad to see them all set aside for years. One of the latest books in this vein is X-Men: Kingbreaker, a follow-up to the stories that began with Uncanny X-Men‘s relatively recent return to outer space and the Shi’Ar Empire. But while it’s certainly enjoyable enough, I can’t help but feel that this first issue is slightly stalling for time.

Vulcan, the long-lost brother of X-Men members Cyclops and Havok, still rules the Shi’Ar Empire. Unfortunately for everyone in and even near the Shi’Ar Empire, he’s completely mad. Even as his forces conquer world after world, he also lords over half of the Starjammers who tried to stop him—Havok, Polaris, Raza, and Ch’od, all now captives. Only the remaining members of Marvel Girl, Korvus, and Lilandra can stand a chance of defeating Vulcan, but are they hopelessly outmatched?

Christopher Yost’s script for X-Men: Kingbreaker is an all right opening to this latest mini-series. It certainly does a good job of setting up the current status quo for those who might not have read the original story in Uncanny X-Men or the other follow-up mini-series (X-Men: Emperor Vulcan). The quibble I have with it, though, is that it actually spends too much time setting the scene and not nearly enough time having anything new happen. Maybe it’s because Yost was hoping for new readers to jump on board thanks to the War of Kings logo on the front (and apparently this mini-series will tie into that upcoming event), but even then, it just feels slow. It’s a shame, because one gets the impression that there’s a lot of exciting stuff ready to happen just around the corner, but with Marvel’s new higher price tag ($3.99 for a regularly sized issue) it’s going to be hard to convince readers to stick around a little longer in the hopes of that happening.

Dustin Weaver’s art is certainly very nice. He’s good at drawing outer space scenes; with the fight sequences taking place in the Shi’Ar shipyard, I was absolutely sold, wanting to see page after page of spaceships versus Marvel Girl for the rest of the comic. He’s able to give the ships a real sense of power about them, that this is more than just a big hunk of metal floating in space.

He’s also good with drawing people, mind you. They’re all well-composed, but best of all—and this may be a strange statement to make, although it’s a little sad that needs to—is how well he draws the scene with Polaris being strapped down by the Shi’Ar scientists as Vulcan comes in to gloat. It’s completely non-sexualized, and one that would still have the same impact regardless of who was strapped to the table; it’s creepy because of Vulcan’s interest, but at no time does it feel exploitative or somehow wrong.

X-Men: Kingbreaker #1 isn’t a bad first issue, but at $3.99 a pop it needs to pick up the pace, and pronto. Right now it just feels like the comic is biding its time, waiting for the War of Kings mini-series to kick off, and that’s exactly not what it should be doing. Hopefully the remaining three issues will move the comic into overdrive to make up for this slow start.

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