By Jim Beard
The word is out! That most uncanny of mutant mini-series, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, has made the grade and is now the most uncanny of ongoing series, beginning this June!
Marvel Comics is bursting at its seams to broadcast that the currently-unfolding X-MEN: FIRST CLASS mini-series (issue #6 just came out!) has been so well-received by both X-fans and those who love solid teenage super-hero drama, that this June it graduates into an open-ended series. Writer Jeff Parker and artist Roger Cruz return in a blaze of glory to tell even more stories of the earliest days of comicdom's premiere mutants.
With a mandate of "fun," Parker and Cruz have rolled out tales of the original X-Men's formative years, at a time when Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Angel and the Beast were still learning about their powers, their world and themselves. Set at the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters, the new ongoing X-MEN: FIRST CLASS will continue in the same vein, promising loads of lessons, love, humor and tragedy for our mighty Marvel mutants.
Parker, who's having a blast writing his favorite X-Man Iceman, has himself learned the best ways to tell new stories in and around the classic tales of the original X-Men. "We do a lot of research!" says Parker. "We have to work in and around original X-Men developments because we don't want to throw out the continuity. Obviously we're not saying all this still happened in the '60s, but we're trying to keep the mythology in place."
X-MEN: FIRST CLASS has gotten high marks from readers for not only presenting the young mutants in a realistic fashion, but also for having the stories play out in a timeless atmosphere and not cementing them to any one era. The result has been a report card full of "A"s. The new ongoing series will be following the same lesson plan, allowing for advance placement to a higher level of X-book.
Assistant Editor Nate Cosby gives a hint as to the syllabus for the new ongoing. "We're continuing to tell short stories of the first team of X-Men. Most are still done-in-ones, but a few will be two-parters and we're amping up the intensity while keeping the lighthearted fun of the initial mini-series."
If you haven't yet sat in on X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, don't fret: the new series will not begin with a test. "We do our best to make each issue reader-accessible," assures Cosby. "So, like in the previous series, you don't really need to know anything about X-Men continuity to get what's going on."
Cruz, artist of the current FIRST CLASS mini, is eagerly looking forward to the book being continued, but is giddily unsure of what the future look at the past will encompass. "I still don't know!" remarks Cruz. "But each issue of the FIRST CLASS mini-series was really fun and unique for me. Jeff put the X-Men in a variety of situations full of humor and intelligence, and that allowed me to work a lot on the body and face expressions. 'Specially with Iceman.
"Scott Summers is without a doubt my favorite. He's always the first one that I draw when I'm sketching a page. But I really like Bobby in X-MEN: FIRST CLASS. I'm sure that he's Jeff's favorite too!"
Sharing a lab table with Jeff Parker is more than cool with Cruz, and he gives his creative partner extra credit. "Jeff creates great dialogue, great group dynamics between the characters," Cruz reflects. "It has been really easy for me to define and imagine a scene on the page. He describes the scenes very clear and objectively. It will be great to continue working with him on Season 2. And I'm also curious about what's gonna happen to our dear mutants!"
Speaking of favorites and focus characters, can Parker give the student body a hint as to who he'd pick as the new X-valedictorian? "I want to devote more time to Marvel Girl and tell some longer, more involved stories…and that's what's happening!"
So, kids, grab your books, sharpen your pencils, and join the X-Men, Professor X, and Cerebro this June for X-MEN: FIRST CLASS! And don't forget your lunch money!
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