Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Mahmud Asrar and Leinil Francis Yu
Publisher: MARVEL COMICS
Release Date: February 24th, 2021
The Children of the Vault are a highly advanced, highly skilled, and extremely powerful group of evolved super beings. This advanced species of Sapien has matured through means of temporal acceleration. Well, if you recall, many issues ago, the team tracked down the location of the Vault and sent three team members inside to uncover intelligence on the Vault, as well as this evolved species. Laura, Darwin, and Synch dove in to evaluate this threat for the X-MEN knowing that time operate differently once inside. Let’s dive into this highly anticipated issue of X-MEN #18 by Jonathan Hickman to see what this secret team uncovers.
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My excitement and expectations were not met with what I thought was anticipated. Readers will not learn much about the Vault or what’s inside. Furthermore, we also don’t get much information about the Children inside the Vault, its inhabitants, or its layout and foundation. Ultimately, readers learn more about Synch than anything else, as well as how the human/mutant mind and memory work.
Now, I’m sure all the content of X-MEN #18 is pertinent information…. somehow. However, in the present, I don’t see the importance. We learn very little for something with so much hype and speculation surrounding it. Will this story continue in issue 19? Well, looking ahead at the March Solicits (click HERE for those), it does appear that our X-team will try to escape. Maybe in the process, Laura, Darwin, and Synch will uncover more of the inner workings inside the Vault? Nevertheless, this issue divulges very little and appears to be purely set up. The hope is that the payoff comes in X-MEN #19 or even in X-MEN #20, which won’t hit until May!!
I get it. I’ll probably take a ton of flack from fans saying, “this type of issue is needed to build the story”. Truthfully, I get it. However, what did it set up? Synch. That’s really it. Now, will he be a vital role in this story moving forward? Probably. But right now, we don’t know. I feel like the setup should have been more focused on the Vault than a mutant we’ve barely touched on since HOXPOX. That said, I have total faith in Hickman’s abilities and have no doubt this specific issue of X-MEN will make more sense in the context of the overall story. Nonetheless, as a single standalone issue to grade, this is all we have to go on.
Mahmud Asrar is a perfect fit to work with Hickman. Somehow, he manages to bring that extra emphasis to each page by the way he orchestrates the panel progression. Asrar gradually reveals characters and their definitions slowly until he builds up to a cascading reveal that usually explodes into action and suspense. Furthermore, the character’s expressions add that extra layer to the story providing the well-needed emotion to each panel. Lastly, Asrar strategically manages a page with multiple characters extremely well. He can focus on the entire battle yet find a way to pull back and infiltrate specific character aspects within the fight. It’s a balance that many artists struggled to do well yet Asrar does with ease.
I understand how stories work. And in comics, oftentimes one single issue isn’t anywhere near close to the entire story. Sometimes six to twelve issues STILL aren’t enough to tell the creative team’s tale. However, there needs to be some sort of built-up, some sort of substance, and something tangible to keep you moving forward. Other than a few good action sequences involving Synch and Laura, readers get no real direction. I left wanting some sort of answers about the Vault or even the Children of the Vault. Alas, we won’t find that this issue. Nevertheless, like many Jonathan Hickman stories, I know things will be explained with time. That said, this issue as a stand-alone simply leaves a bit to desire. I’m certainly not deterred from the story or the series by this one single issue. But, as Hickman’s X-MEN goes, this was a bit lackluster and missing that clever charm that these issues seem to normally have. Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God Bless!
If you’re interested in X-MEN #18, click HERE to get a copy! Maybe you’ve been really digging Hickman’s X-MEN run? In that case, click HERE to get your hands on the latest Dawn of X trades and comics. And finally, if you’re looking for something else to read, check out my Amazon Online Comic Shop by clicking HERE. Thank you all for the read and continued support. Stay safe and stay healthy.
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