New X-Men is a matter of Taste
Some might say that the new X-Men series isn’t off to a particularly great start, being that there’s not a central villain or focus yet aside from Cyclops and his collective family. I say that, yes, while there’s no focus yet, Jonathan Hickman IS focusing on the long term by introducing characters and threads that will be explored later in the series as the mad lad tends to do.
X-Men (2019) #3
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This issue of X-Men is no different. While the last issue of X-Men focused on Cyclops, Rachel Summers and Kid Cable and a new potential threat from Apocalypse’s old Horsemen, this one brought to light a new threat for all of humanity on Earth: Conservationists.
What do I mean? Well, let’s dive in.
Krakoa is experiencing Technical Difficulty
The book begins with Krakoa’s Savage Land gate going on the fritz and four strange individuals in steampunk outfits emerging from it. One of them asks Pixe and Anole, who just so happen to be there picking flowers, if they’re in Kansas. The two young mutants respond that they’re in Krakoa and the people shoot them with some kind of strange goo, saying they just love flowers.
This is a curious introduction as these characters don’t seem to want to actively hurt the mutants, just incapacitate them. Leinil Francis Yu also continues to amaze with his fantastic art and Sunny Gho with Rain Beredo’s colors. The steampunk-y outfits are well designed and detailed and the backgrounds are lively and vibrant with color.
We then cut to an impromptu meeting of the Quiet Council to discuss what’s happening. There’s an interaction between Emma Frost and Jean Grey that I initially thought was going to be salty, given their mutual history with Scott, but they mostly seem friendly with each other.
As the meeting begins, we get one of Hickman’s pages detailing how Krakoa needs to feed on psychic energy to sustain himself, but for whatever reason, the landmass is absorbing more than usual. It is then up to Scott to find out why and what’s going on in the Savage Land gate. This leads to Scott, Sebastian Shaw and Emma Frost being sent to investigate.
Meanwhile, the Steampunk Flower Pickers have encased all of the Savage Land Mutants in their strange goo and soon take off their masks to reveal themselves as cantankerous older women. While all of their motivations are as of yet unknown, Hickman gives them pretty great personalities.
Edith, presumably the oldest, is a crotchety woman who laughed at her ex-husband’s funeral after he left her for a younger woman. Lily seems to be level headed one with a bit of a caring nature. Opal, a former smoker, seems to not like Edith very much and Augusta, the final one, mocks the mutant security for being weak. Most of them substitute curses “letter-word,” which gives them some unique dialogue.
Each of these women are distinct and diverse in their appearances. Augusta stands out because her mask looks like that of a vulture, maybe symbolizing that she’s only around to pick up the flowers for herself. Opal and Lily sport almost regular gas masks and Edith’s mask reminds me of Immortan Joe from Mad Max: Fury Road as she certainly cares for no one but herself.
Immediately, Yu, Gho and Beredo have me interested and invested in these women because of their introduction and design. These older women, who may not even get a look or two of scrutiny just walked into Krakoa and started causing trouble. What’s even worse, who’s going to take the hit for trying to fight them back?
With the help of Gateway, an Australian Mutant with similar powers to Manifold, Cyclops, Shaw and Frost arrive in the middle of the elderly expedition. The women introduce themselves as Hordeculture, a play on the word horticulture or garden management. With a few unsavory puns and insults at Emma’s expense, Sebastian Shaw attempts to negotiate.
As eloquent as Shaw tends to be, Hordeculture aren’t interested, spray him with their goo and proceed to whoop his ass. In any other situation, Shaw would have taken the energy boost from the attacks and expelled it, but it is then explained that the good neutralizes mutant power somehow, making them even more dangerous than previously thought.
In the middle of Shaw’s beating, Yu draws a fantastic sequence of Cyclops systematically taking out the Horde with his concussive blasts. Gho or Beredo, I’m unsure, makes sure to coat one of the panels in the signature red and we get a dynamic shot of them being blasted away. Gerry Alanguilan’s inks accentuate the shots perfectly. Cyclops isn’t playing around and I really enjoy it.
Cyclops really is growing into his role as protector of Krakoa, all of its citizens and anything else relating to it. Yu, Gho, Beredo and Alanguilan portray Scott as a badass…up until one of the women feigns an injury and Cyclops, being the actual big blue boy scout, tries to help. He too gets goo’d and a whooping.
Emma, seeing things get out of hand, turns into diamond and asks them what their problem is. Their reply is as interesting as I thought it would be and they say that Mutants are.
Augusta tells Emma of their careers as botanists and their plans to return Earth to its natural state, potentially with “seven billion fewer people in it.” And things might have gone swimmingly until Krakoa sprang up with its mysterious plants and drugs created from them. They plan to reverse engineer Krakoa or, if all else fails, destroy it all.
The X-Men have faced many threats, but Octogenarian Eco Terrorists aren’t one of them. While we may not see any pay off in the immediate future, the fact that they exist and have gotten one over on the X-Men is terrifying enough. With all of mutantkind united, they needed new threats and now they have them in the form of Hordeculture.
This issue was fantastic to me because of the introduction of new and dangerous enemies. Without the fantastic art team, none of it could have been realized, especially since Leinil Francis Yu is one of my absolute favorite artists. This book was awesome!