Release Date: December 21st, 2021
Rating: 5/5 Stars
I received this book from publisher Aconyte via NetGalley. Reviews remain my own.
After reading other Marvel novels, I wasn’t totally sure about pursuing others, but seeing this X-Men offering and noticing it was edited by Gwendolyn Nix, I knew I had to check it out.
The newest generation of mutants are learning about their powers in ways vastly different from the ‘classic’ X-Men. With Professor X gone, Cyclops, Magneto and Emma Frost are trying to prepare their new wards for what the future holds, and what it means to be part of a team. The new school, hidden from the world, is in a remote, cold location, in a bunker that is half operational. A far cry from the mansion. Danger lurks within and without, and the new mutants find their powers put to the test as they come up against fresh enemies.
I really liked the book format, and the use of short stories for these characters’ adventures. Most appear in each story, and it feels like the focus really smoothly shifts from one to the other, in some cases allowing us to get more in the head of a character we encountered maybe a couple of stories previously.
Your Fifteen Minutes is a strong opening to the anthology. Fabio (Goldballs) doesn’t quite see himself as a hero, not like the action films he’s such a fan of. But when he gets roped into a strange series of hallucinations with the Stepford Cuckoos, he gets the chance to really be a hero, but maybe it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
Call of the Dark makes for a great second story. Graymalkin’s power is strongest in the dark, but for him, the darkness is dangerous. Trying to rid himself of his fear, he explores the lower levels of the bunker, and comes across an evil doppelganger. The story sets up some of the anthology’s – and X-Men’s in general – reoccurring themes really well, drawing us into this world and showing how these characters are strongest when they admit their weaknesses and seek help.
Untouchable sees Hijack heading to a street race, but with Carter tagging along they discover the races aren’t all they seem. The focus in this one is really tight, keeping us glued to these two and eager to see what they manage to pull off. Probably the fastest paced story in the book. Eye of the Storm pairs up well with this one, again with a tight focus on the characters as Shark Girl, Dust and Rockslide work to prevent the local town from being flooded. An underwater tunnel leads them into danger. Full of action, as the characters try to escape in time to stop the flood.
Of Dirt and Bones is the most Horror-like story in the anthology, with dead animals crawling from the forest. Phoebe Cuckoo realises she has to fight through her fears and get to the bottom of it. Really great, one of the anthology’s solid standouts and, I think, my favourite in the book.
Kid Omega Faces the Music sees the titular character, Kid Omega (aka Quentin Quire) thrown through time, along with his bestie Glob. They witness some of the most important moments throughout the history of the X-Men, and he learns not just about himself, but about a man he’s not quite sure he still admires. This was really entertaining, told by Kid Omega himself, as he tries to work out what kind of hero he wants to be. I really enjoyed this one, and it touches on some really solid moments that led up to the current situation. Plenty of Easter eggs for long-time fans, while giving context for those who might not have been able to keep up as much over the years.
Depowered is the final story, and the longest, more novella-length than short story. It ends the anthology really well. When the instructors are called away, the school’s students are left to their own devices, until two familiar faces show up. The pair try to enlist the help of the students to return their powers, but their arrival brings Sentinels to the institute. The dynamics here were drawn out well, whether it’s between the students trying to work as a team, or Moonstar and Polaris trying to keep the students focused on the fight before them. Like the other stories, there’s good messages here about teamwork, as well as the responsibility of leadership.
Overall I found this to be an enjoyable, entertaining anthology and would recommend it whether you are an older or newer X-Men fan.
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