With mutants down for the count after the calamitous Hellfire Gala, Children of the Vault #1 makes way for another super-powered group…
There are lots of obscure and bizarre creations littered throughout the Marvel universe, but the Children of the Vault are perhaps among the most obscure and bizarre. Making a long story as short as I possibly can: the Children of the Vault are the earliest members of a highly-evolved race known as “Post-Humans,” who were scientifically created through temporal acceleration to eradicate mutants but eventually also became the destined oppressors of regular-degular humans as well. (Whoops!) After an initial scuffle with the X-Men, they unexpectedly resurfaced many years later, with Krakoa learning that their super-computerized city —the titular Vault— has become sentient and aims to take over the world. (Double whoops!!) To contain the threat of the Vault, Krakoa trapped the Children in a simulated reality wherein they believe they’ve conquered Earth and its various super-people. But now that Krakoa has fallen, the Children have been released from their digital prisons, and they’ve not very happy about what was done to them. (Triple whoops!!!)
So that brings us to the present in Children of the Vault #1, where we’re introduced to the Children as they begin to enact their big ploy for domination: promising the homo sapiens of the world utopia with advanced science and technology, endearing them to the masses rather than intimidating them into submission. (If this all sounds familiar, well, you would be correct!) But there’s something not quite right about how the people of Earth have opened their arms to the new masters; it’s happening too easily for them. With the world’s mutant population largely MIA, former/current rivals Cable and Bishop (who both essentially immune to psychological manipulation) are forced to work together and figure out what’s happening. What could possibly go wrong?
If you’re still wondering who the hell the title characters of this series are, don’t be misled; Children of the Vault #1 is actually a Cable/Bishop team-up series at its core, or at least that’s the impression I got from this debut issue. We don’t actually see much of the children here, which is probably for the better because they’re just not especially beloved or known like Cable and Bishop are. The Children themselves are positioned as the antagonists here, proving to be a formidable threat for the two X-Men, both working without the resurrection safety net and a larger team of characters behind them. It very much reflects the ethos of this new phase in the Krakoa saga, which means that it might not be for everybody. “How many extinction-level crises can mutants face before it gets boring?” is a common sentiment I’ve seen since the Hellfire Gala went down, and even if I don’t personally agree with it in this instance, I do know that the series at hand is very much not a refutation of that argument and it might land like a lead balloon with some.
To its credit, Children of the Vault #1 is a pretty good package overall. Deniz Camp’s script moves quickly —perhaps at the expense of exposition, which some might need— and Luca Maresca’s action-packed art holds the reader’s attention. Camp puts some fun little details in the issue, such as Cable’s safehouse being a flower nursery called “DaySpring” or the way he hides in plain sight by making someone recognize him as Josh Brolin, which lighten the mood despite the world-shaking circumstances of the characters. The explanation of how the Children are proliferating themselves is also very interesting and relevant to our current times in a way I won’t spoil. It may not be for everyone, but Children of the Vault #1 does offer an intriguing story about survival and assimilation that might be worth your time.