Gerry Duggan, Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia’s X-Men #7 is an exciting read that flips the series’ status quo on its head with a tragic tale of triumph.
Since X Men began, Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz have established Krakoa’s champions, particularly Cyclops, as some of Marvel’s premiere superheroes. The series’ first few issues focused on Scott Summers’ relationship with the public and how this team has elevated themselves with public heroic adventures. X Men #7 shows the hardships of what happens when Scott loses everything he’s fought to achieve. In this comic, readers learn the story of how he died and what events forced him to become Captain Krakoa. It is a compelling and tragic tale that shows how a single issue can change an entire Marvel series.
X Men #7 opens with Doctor Stasis commanding his army of animal-human hybrids to attack New York City in an attempt to draw out the city’s newest heroes. However, with Jean Grey, Polaris, and Rogue away on Arakko, the X-Men arrive a little short-handed. The mutants step up their game to combat an overwhelming hoard of beasts. Despite this disadvantage, Cyclops’ leadership skills help the team as they simultaneously save the city’s citizens and subdue their foes. Unfortunately, unknownst to the X-Men, they are playing directly into Stasis’ trap, and Cyclops’ moment of triumph will also be his last moment in the public eye.
After building up the X-Men as the hottest team to hit comics in years, writer Gerry Duggan rips away the heroes’ happiness in X Men #7. As the issue opens, Duggan reminds readers that no matter how many people accept mutants, there will always be others that hate them for what they represent. Doctor Stasis plays the part of a seemingly-stereotypical villain well, lulling the X-Men into a false sense of security. Ultimately, this facade makes his actual plan all the more devastating, as he strikes at the team’s heart and takes down Cyclops. Duggan nails this moment, contrasting Scott’s over-the-top heroics with an understated and quiet death. For all of their power and might, the X-Men can make reckless mistakes and suffer the consequences of those actions. Duggan continues to build tension in the team by questioning who erased the memories of Ben Urich. It can be challenging for writers to find the balance between immediate satisfaction and long-term storytelling, but Duggan makes it look easy.
Artist Pepe Larraz continues to make X Men one of the best-looking comic books on the stands. Larraz imbues all of the book’s characters with a lifelike quality that shapes their presence — from the threatening Doctor Stasis to the enthusiastic Synch. This energy enhances Duggan’s script, helping the heroes feel more like people than two-dimensional comic book personas. Still, Larraz really shines with action, and X Men #7 provides plenty of it. Larraz manipulates the camera and puts readers in the heart of the conflict, getting up-close-and-personal with the likes of Wolverine and Sunfire. Appropriately, Cyclops receives the issue’s best moment. Larraz uses a traffic light and some windows to reflect the hero’s optic blast against an array of enemies. The maneuver is immediately one of the most extraordinary displays of Cyclops’ powers to date, and Larraz’s creativity will likely inspire other artists in the years to come.
Furthermore, the material in X Men #7 reaches a higher level of artistry thanks to the colors of Marte Gracia. Gracia makes New York actually look like New York, with muddied grays and muted colors. At the same time, he gives the X-Men a commanding presence, casting them in vibrant hues that reflect how superhuman they have become. The crimson aura of Cyclops’ blasts and the burning oranges of Sunfire’s blasts explode off the page and burn themselves into the minds of readers.
Overall, X Men #7 is another enthralling chapter in the lives of Marvel’s mightiest mutants. Duggan, Larraz, Gracia, and the creative team’s work captures the heart of the series and makes the tragedy of Cyclops’ death feel like a real gut-punch. As the residents of Krakoa get ready to embark on a bold new future in Destiny of X, X Men is a gripping reminder that the team’s present-day adventures are equally enjoyable.
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