Free from crossover and event tie-ins, multi-part story arcs, and even a consistent creative team, Amazing X-Men #13 has the rare chance to focus on one of the X-Men students and James Tynion IV uses the opportunity to give readers a sweet, low-key tale featuring Anole, one of the X-Men’s brightest but more self-conscious recruits.
The story starts out as typical teen mutant fare, Anole ventures into the city for a date with a boy he met online but can’t find the courage to go through with it, fearing the boy’s reaction to his reptilian appearance. To make matters worse, Lady Mastermind is in town and gets her kicks torturing Anole, exposing his worst fears using her illusion powers. Things get interesting when Northstar and Nightcrawler team-up to rescue Anole and Tynion uses them and their differences to give the story more meaning. While Northstar and Anole’s bond has been consistently developed throughout the years with Jean-Paul acting as a gay mentor and overall role-model to young Victor, Tynion makes it clear that the story isn’t about Anole’s sexuality at all and instead all about his appearance. It’s a refreshing shift mostly due to the issue of visible mutations being surprisingly underused in the X-Men universe. Bring in Nightcrawler to teach Anole a heartwarming lesson about looking different and you have a solid story. Between the three characters, Tynion creates an interesting dynamic, an especially intriguing one between Northstar and Nightcrawler, but unfortunately Tynion is only able to cram in so much, leaving us with quick exchanges glossing over what could be deeper revelations. The issue never feels rushed though, just leaves you wanting more.
If my petition for another young X-Men book ever gets enough signatures, Tynion would be a prime candidate to write it. His dialogue is sharp throughout but it’s Anole’s voice that really shines. Incorporating things such as Instagram, online dating, texting, and even placing Victor’s date in the setting of a cute coffee shop in Chelsea goes a long way in making Anole’s situation more genuine and makes his teenage misadventure that much more touching.
Jorge Jiménez is another creator perfectly suited for teen books, bringing the best of both angst-ridden and adorable facial expressions for Anole. He gracefully walks the fine line between making Anole attractive but also amplifying his grotesque mutation when the script calls for it. Unlike many current comic artists, Jiménez doesn’t equate New York City with generic cityscape backgrounds and makes the most of NYC settings such as Washington Square Park, giving the issue a real-world touch. Benefitted by Rachelle Rosenberg’s vibrant colors, the issue is a visual treat from start to finish. The pair really hit their stride when Lady Mastermind makes her move, turning the streets of Chelsea upside down, giving Jiménez an opportunity to play with distorted panels and Rosenberg to flood the book with psychedelic pinks and greens.
Speaking of Lady Mastermind… There seems to be some confusion over which Wyngarde sister Anole is dealing with. The art implies that it’s Regan but the power usage suggests Martinique. In an unheard-of editorial error that will have continuity geeks such as myself scratching their heads for years to come, the print copy refers to her as Regan while the digital copy refers to her as Martinique… Choose your own interpretation, true believers!
Amazing X-Men #13 just so happens to mark James Tynion IV’s first Marvel gig. An established DC comics writer, it’s wonderful that he chose to launch his Marvel writing career by showcasing a lesser-known X-Men character. Handling the character and themes with the depth they deserve, this issue will make readers want to see more of both Anole and James Tynion IV.
The Verdict: 8.0/10