X-MEN #5 – Cyclops, What The Hell Did You Do?

X-Men #5 Front Cover Art

I’m starting to feel some cracks forming

Jonathan Hickman has a particular brand of storytelling in which  he has to build the world that he’s operating in before things really start to hit their stride. That’s what he’s been doing with X-Men thus far. But the issue wasn’t really on the same level as the others. Mostly due to slow plotting and previously explored villains that weren’t too great to begin with.

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The Children of the Vault were villains introduced by Mike Carey and Chris Bachalo during their 2006 run on X-Men and served as mainly minor villains with a vendetta against Sabretooth for awakening them prematurely. They were humans raised in a Vault that exists in a state of Hypertime, allowing them to experience life over the course of 6000 years and this granted them abilities far beyond baseline humans.

During their short time, they very nearly managed to kill the X-Men entirely before vanishing off the face of the Earth with new creative teams. Jonathan Hickman, keeping in line with his initiative with bringing things back, has decided to resurrect the Children of the Vault as one of the new emerging threats to the X-Men.

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The book begins with three black panels before we see Scott asking himself “What has [he] done” and “What the hell was [he] thinking” supposedly after some unknown event during the time of this book. We then cut to Serafina, one of the Children, running away from Wolverine and using some local Ecuadorian farmers as mind controlled shields to block him.

R. B. Silva takes over the art in this issue and does an amazing job with the visuals throughout. Where others might have just drawn regular green backgrounds without detail, Silva does an awesome job giving the background foliage an almost negative feel, similar to how Serafina looks with skin as black as the void with white hair and clothes.

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A Modern Take On Wolverine’s Classic Look

Silva also does an amazing job of showcasing Wolverine’s current look, a modern redesign of the good old Brown and Gold costume that he’s been wearing since Dawn of X started. He makes short work of the farmers before losing Serafina to the vault. Silva then gives us a great shot of it and the deactivated Sentinel that transported it all those years back.

What I enjoyed about this initial scene is that it set up a chase and reintroduces readers to a potentially interesting character. Even the next few pages afterwards, as she interfaces with the systems of the vault are awesome as Clayton Cowles letters the scene like it’s Boot Menu on a computer while Serafina stands amongst Marte Gracia’s vibrant purple colors.

However, things take a slight dip when the new team of Darwin, a resurrected Synch from the Generation X team and Wolverine (Laura Kinney) are put together to infiltrate the Vault and stop the Children from whatever it is they plan on doing, which is likely the ultimate end for both mutant and humankind.

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Children of the Vault Theories

What the Children of the Vault represent is very much in the same vein of the story that Hickman’s trying to tell – Humanity will eventually evolve to a point where they could wipe mutants out altogether, but at the same time humanity is also doomed because the Children see them as inferior beings to themselves. So the fate of everything relies on three mutants.

Darwin’s mutant gift is that he can adapt to any situation, so hypertime and the Children’s abilities are nothing to him. The only thing that can kill him is executive oversight and poor writing that can’t explain his abilities (Take that X-Men: First Class). Synch can copy mutant abilities like Hope Summers and Laura can heal and likely ages like Logan.

Not much else happens from here. The X-Men stage a distraction to get the team in and Silva with Gracia draw and color the action scenes amazingly. I’d say one of the best panels is Storm calling forth lightning to strike the Sentinel. Silva frames her as being small against it, but Gracia colors he lightning as being devastating and bright under her command.

The last things we see are the team getting in, the X-Men retreating and sometime later, Scott and The Professor speak again. For what was only three months for them was about five hundred and thirty seven years for the infiltration team and we come back to the very first page.

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