Back in 1999, the X-Force annual ended with a tease of a team to be titled XXX. Though this team never received their own comic it feels that X-Terminators # 1 is a suitable substitute. From the overtones to the observable connections between the characters in the story, it’s easy to see why Leah Williams chose this lineup. The setup plays to a trope that is too often used specifically for this type of hero. Still, it’s possible this series may finally get rid of any doubts these ladies can carry the X.
X-Terminators opens with an image that honors how Ali began. Despite dating back to the days of Xanadu, Bryan Valenza brings Dazzler from technicolor to 8K. Readers get Dazzler, sporting a 70’s roller rink outfit, complete with short shorts with the name “PRAXIS” on them. Some may say this outfit alone could earn this its comics “mature warning” advisory – though later Tabitha’s ensemble and Jube’s comments about it confirm it’s necessary.
But, then again so does the explosive action in this opener pack in from the opening page. As VC’s Travis Lanham provides narrative to Ali’s thoughts, the reader gets a great look at the pop star mutant as she fires off laser blasts and chews bubble gum.
Continuing a Krakoan-era trend the title’s name, X-Terminators refers back to a historical X-Men team. Specifically, it was the “mock” identity the original 5 X-Men would use as a cover to track down mutants. Later, the young mutants they rescued – including Boom-Boom – would go on to use the name around the time of Inferno.
Instead of pretending to get rid of mutants, it seems Leah Williams plans to rid Dazzler of some of her troubles. After catching her boyfriend of two months cheating, a depressed Ali calls up her fellow Mallrats to get rid of her sorrows. The choice of Ali’s initial fellow X-Terminators was exceptionally well thought out. It is hard to look at the three X-women and not see the connections they share beginning with the fact that each is the second to use their respective code-name. Beyond the malls and partying, their power sets are also similar; extremely powerful explosives. Though never seen that way – until now?
Carlos Gomez does wonderful capturing some of the “prettier” X-Men. Jubilee and Tabitha stand out as looking closer to their traditional appearances; matured somewhat. Ali, however, looks like she may have had some work done to maintain her youthful appearance – but then again this is Dazzler, she’s timeless There is no denying that while every one of Charlie’s Angels can be considered gorgeous these were the eye candy. Their fashion sense for their night out straight from MTV – is on display thanks to the color choices of Bryan Valenza.
The night out at Mr. B’s Bar for some karaoke has Boomer and Jubilee expecting to be belting out everything from “I Want Candy” to “I’m Missing you Like Candy.” It isn’t only Ali who deserves to get out. Tabitha has been mainly day drinking while Jubilee was on Excalibur until they all, including Shogo, became the Knights of X. Unfortunately, that isn’t the plan as it seems that this was all a setup for Ali. Even down the playlist, it is being exclusively her tracks. Too obvious a setup for Arcade, but Ali does have other fans.
There is an unexpected amount of action that takes place in this opening issue. In keeping with the team’s light and plasma abilities, Bryan Valenza maintains a bright feel. Later, as they are attempting to escape their mysterious kidnapper, the dark environments remain partially lit. It’s almost as if these mutants are unconsciously accessing their abilities.
A late addition, though also a second in her lineup, feels off for this light show. Sadly, there are few newer mutants who actually would fit in – emphasizing this trio’s pyrotechnic parallels. It also feels there may be some perpendicular lines as well. I doubt Mr. B is Bobby Deniro. And what exactly did those Knights go off in search of Ms. Lee?
Don’t think of this as an attempt to create a spark with some idle characters. X-Terminators features a trio of fireworks that don’t fizzle.