• The X-Men descend into rubble in Before the Fall: Mutant First Strike.
    X-Men: Before the Fall - Mutant First Strike #1
    Steve Orlando
    Valentina Pinti
    Vc's Travis Lanham
    Cover Artist:
    David Baldeon
    Release Date:
    Frank William

As part of a series of one-shots, X-Men: Before the Fall - Mutant First Strike #1 helps set the stage for the upcoming Fall of X. Beginning with this year's Hellfire Gala issue, Fall of X is the next highly anticipated and ultra-secretive era for the X-Men. The Krakoan Era has seen unprecedented progress and celebration for mutantkind, but it hasn't been without challenges. Orchis has been consistently plotting and working against Krakoa from the start and with Fall of X, many of their machinations look to be reaching a boiling point. X-Men: Before the Fall - Mutant First Strike #1, written by Steve Orlando with art by Valentina Pinti, colors by Frank William, letters by VC's Travis Lanham, and design by Tom Muller and Jay Bowen, is a thoughtful and exciting story that builds on the rising tension between Krakoa and the rest of the world.

This issue is almost entirely a natural disaster recovery operation. A small town in New England is attacked by an engineered mutant created by Orchis that causes massive environmental damage. Bishop assembles an emergency response brigade including Storm, Jean Grey, Iceman, Penance, Tempo, and more to come to the town's aid and uncover the truth about the attack. The team is stacked, with a wide range of powers that are all put to use in creative, effective ways to solve the disaster at hand. Everyone gets a moment to shine, and the issue also maintains focus by always emphasizing the conflict between Krakoa and Orchis.

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Bishop leads a team of mutants as they descend from the sky

Orlando does an excellent job at presenting a self-contained story that effectively builds on what's come before while propelling the narrative into the future. It'd be entirely possible to read this issue without reading anything before or after, but the issue becomes exponentially enriched by the larger conflict and plot threads across the X-line. This issue repeatedly showcases the power of stories. The entire reason for Orchis' attack is to spin a narrative against mutantkind. Mutantkind responds to the disaster because it's the right thing to do, yes, but one of their prime goals is to uncover the truth of the attack and spread that story. There are consistent examples of stories being used within the issue to influence characters and the world around them, it's an astute, accurate observation of how crucial the narrative is.

Pinti's art throughout the issue is phenomenal. There's a lot of action packed into this book, an explosive natural disaster, wreckage everywhere, crowds of people, a team of 10+ mutants, and more are all rendered in exquisite detail. Almost a dozen different powers are used throughout, some in dynamic new combinations. Spectacle is present in spades but Pinti also nails the up-close emotional reactions needed for connection with the characters. There are so many little moments sprinkled in larger sequences that help bring the story to life.

Tempo examines a skull with Cerebra and Theia in the background

William's colors add a balanced vibrancy to the art. There's an even tone maintained throughout the issue, not leaning too far into a warm or cool palette overall, yet brilliantly highlighting those hues in special moments. The red, white, and blue/black of the X-Men's first responder outfit present a striking visual. Lanham's lettering is top-notch. Speech bubbles give the art plenty of space to shine, and the emotive sound effects add an extra layer of realism to the action. Muller and Bowen's design work comes in with the usual data pages, providing additional context to the schemes of Orchis.

This issue has a clear mission and accomplishes it with ease. It further escalates the ongoing conflict with Orchis ahead of the Fall of X within a one-and-done issue format. The idea of a mutant first-response team also makes so much sense, and it's thrilling to see in action. With X-Men: Before the Fall - Mutant First Strike #1, Orlando and the rest of the creative team deliver a stellar mutant adventure packed with memorable moments and valuable lessons.