Marvel’s summer spectacular Secret Wars is in full swing with the various Marvel universes re-booted, ret-conned and generally re-imagined into the all encompassing Battleworld. As well as giving the house of ideas a chance to tame some of the more unruly plot strands it also gives them the chance to dust of some old franchises for another go around, including a welcome return to the X-men animated series who make their digital debut in X-Men ’92 Infinite Comic #1.Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Chad Bowers, Chris Sims
Artist: Scott Koblish
Price: £1.49/$1.99 from ComiXology
In the early ’90s mutants ruled the world, selling millions and dominating the comics landscape, but it was the superb cartoon series which people often remember more fondly from that era, rather than the issues packed full of mega muscles, plentiful pouches and back breaking ‘babes’. It is with some relief then that Marvel decided to resurrect this incarnation of their mutant super team for the Battleword (not the Liefeld/Lee offerings) and in doing so have created one of it’s most enjoyable Secret Wars offerings so far.
Our series starts in an Extreme Laser Tag emporium in a Westchester mall (a nice nod to the world of Rob Liefeld and co) with our mutant heroes using it for training after it turns out Wolverine has done untold damage to the Danger Room back at the mansion (“You don’t want me breaking things, don’t call it the danger room” he quips in defence). As with the cartoon series, this team is built around the plucky Jubillee, Storm, Cyclops, Beast, Jean Grey and the relentless flirtation between Rogue and Gambit. All that is missing from these opening salvos are the ear-worm-tastic theme tune, as inevitably the training session is interrupted by a sentinel who the X-team dispatch in customary fashion and it is from here that you begin to realise this universe isn’t quite as you think.
This sentinel is a rogue, leftover from an epic conflict between the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants known as the Westchester Wars. This conflict has left Magneto dead and Senator Kelly has set up as the self proclaimed baron of Westchester. (This may all seem a bit weird at first, but the idea of barons ties into the feudal society of the Battleworld so just go along with it for now!) Thanks to their role in the Westchester Wars, Cyclops and co. are part-folk-heroes, part-soldiers for Kelly and sp after dispatching the rogue sentinel are sent on a mission to investigate the mysterious Clear Mounrain Institute for wayward mutants to find out if this is a solution to the post-Magneto mutant villain problem. However before setting off Cyclops gives Professor X an important revelation about his future with the team which will surely influence his approach to the mission.
Just like the cartoon X-Men ’92 Infinite manages to create a fun and uncomplicated version of the main characters, free of the years of tangled back story and so great for new readers. It’s brilliant to revisit that heady period of X-cess as writer Chris Sims and Chad Bowers instil the series with a real sense of fun and humour, while artist Scott Koblish perfectly balances the ’90s print style with the energy of the animated series.
Koblish also does a solid job adding in some slick transitions, creating some interesting action set pieces (especially in the laser tag game and the sentinel battle) to make the most of the Infinite format. While it may not push the boundaries of the medium in the way that Daredevil Road Warrior or Deadpool: The Gauntlet did, after some rather lacklustre Infinite offerings over the last 12 months, X-Men ’92 Infinite feels like a refreshing return to form for Marvel’s Infinite Comics line and more than earns it’s stripes in the Battleworld!