Pick of the Week

December 4, 2008 – X-Men Noir #1

What did the
community think?

Avg Rating: 3.7
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 4.0%
Users who pulled this comic:

Size: pages
Price: 3.99

For a few months in most of Marvel’s comic books, we saw a series of ads that depicted characters in shadows and try as I might, I couldn’t figure out what those promos were for. Turns out, they were promoting this limited series, X-Men Noir. I find it with great irony, after a few months ago hearing myself whine on our show about how I was sick of “noir” comics, that here I am picking a noir comic that depicts the X-Men in a noir fashion, and yet, here I am with it as this week’s Pick.

This first issue of X-Men Noir introduces us to world like is set in what seems to be the 1930s or 1940s in New York City, with the murder of a red-headed woman. Of course the woman is Jean Grey and from here the story unravels. Xavier is in prison after being convicted by the D.A. for running a questionable reform school, and we’re introduced to a police squad who is trying to solve the murder of Ms. Grey, with their only clues a mysterious marking of an X and the works of one Bolivar Trask. It’s like the X-Men, only different.

I don’t know where specifically this series fits within Marvel Comics as it doesn’t appear to be a MAX or a Marvel Knights book, but ultimately I don’t really care. It’s obviously out of continuity, but yet it’s based in X-Men lore of their characters, yet spun in a different direction. A different feel from the existing X-Men comics. Obviously by the title, it’s plain to see this comic is of the noir variety, depicting the characters and the story in an urban setting, complete with shadows and intrigue.

So why did I like this book over the other ones that were released this week? Simply put, this book reminded me of the Elseworlds line of comics from DC Comics. Before they started mucking with Crisises and the multiverse, DC produced some of the most imaginative comics in the industry with the Elseworlds moniker. Taking the character’s we’ve come to know and love over 40+ years, and spinning them in a slightly different direction, be it by a story point, or an overall theme to the series, Elseworlds were something to look forward to. Each story was more imaginative than the next, and you never knew how the story would unfold.

Here, writer Fred Van Lente and artist Dennis Calero team up to take the concept of the X-Men and the world of mutants and spin them in a noir-ish direction. It’s not clear as of yet if these characters are mutants or not, but the appearance of Cyclops at the end in red glasses leads me to believe that maybe their powers will manifest in some manner, but for this issue it’s pure Noir intrigue.

Dennis Calero art captures the noir theme to a tee, casting characters and scenes in shadows and making the art work to develop the overall plot as much as the story. We’re given a glimpse of a Zeppelin filled sky in New York City as a murder mystery develops. Van Lente has hatched a plot that is both easy to follow for anyone new to the characters or the title, but also keeps enough echos of the character’s as we know them to keep a die-hard fan like me on the edge of my seat waiting to see who or what comes next.

Now I love the ongoing stories we get on a monthly basis as much as the next guy. But it’s projects like that that I feel are important to the world of comics. Exercises in character and setting that allow the creators total freedom in how they develop their stories is nothing but a positive thing to read. Let’s face facts, 40 years of continuity is hard to follow and maintain. But by capturing the original vision of the characters and applying some sort of creative filter to it allows a total enjoyment of a single, self contained story. This issue made me realize how much I missed the Elseworlds imprint from DC, and how much hope I had for Marvel if they’re going to pursue this type of imaginative style of comics. Admittedly it’s a distraction from the monthly grind of the ongoing series, but it’s a welcome distraction, highlighting the creative ability of writers and artists. It also shows that there can be innovation in these sort of comics, taking characters we’ve known for years and re-inventing them in a manner that is fresh and new.

I tip my noir-ish fedora to Van Lente and Calero for taking a concept that made me roll my eyes, and capturing my attention and interest in just one issue. I have no idea if this is a mini series or an ongoing, and honestly I don’t even care. I simply found myself at the end of this issue wanting to see more, which in any situation of comics, is a very good thing.

Ron Richards
I’m still sick of noir though



  1. Heh, as soon I read this I totally called it as Ron’s pick. Not a bad choice though, it’s certsinly interesting.

  2. I knew this would be a Ron pick also!

     I don’t have this weeks comics yet to call my own but I would say that it would either be Sword 13 or Secret Invasion 8.

  3. Realy?

  4. Ron tricked me by picking something not on his pull list.  It’s a conspiracy, I tells ya!

  5. Actually, those house ads weren’t promoting this mini-series in specific, they were promoting the entire Noir mini-series line.  There will be other "Noir" minis coming for Spider-Man and Daredevil.

  6. Interesting pick.  I think I read some where that this is a Marvel Knights title, but I’m probably wrong about that.  Glad to see you enjoyed it, though you are morphing from "the X-Men guy" to the "guy filled with hypocrisy!" 🙂

  7. I read this and I remembered Ron had the pick; my thoughts immediately went from "This is a cool take on the X-Men, he’ll probably pick it" to "but it’s NOIR."  Glad to see quality won out.  Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.

  8. I knew you’d pick this;) But it was my pick as well. Easy for me though when my other pulls were SI and Marvel Zombies…not much competition.

  9. I forgot to pick this up! Boooooooooo!

  10. Wanted to check this out but my boycott on $3.99 books kept me away.  Boooooo.

  11. Ron used the word Noir a lot in this review.

  12. Drink

  13. Sounds like a trade worth getting. 🙂


  14. I don’t thnk this title’s supposed to be out till next week actually.  I went to Midtown comics in New York and they said that Diamond accidentally shipped this to some of the stores; it’s supposed to be officially out next week.

  15. I thought this was a lot of fun as well, and pretty thoughtful too.  

    My pick was Hellboy: The Wild Hunt.  This issue will continue to be my pick each week until the next one comes out.  

  16. *makes a whipping sound*

    Hear that? That’s Ron being whipped by an X-Title, Again!

    *whips again*

  17. Whoa Whoa Whoa

    Why is Ron’s pick not on his pull list? Is this a mistake on the site or did Ron just advertise a book just for the heck of it? The conspiracy man in me thinks it’s the second option 🙂

    *sorry for a double post here*

  18. no not a mistake of the site, I actually wasn’t planning on buying this – but the art grabbed me in the store – im updating it now

  19. The guys routinely pick books not on their pull list to discourage gambling.  

  20. @Mikhail  Diamond & Marvel’s websites have consistently listed this as shipping 12/4.  Either they lied to Midtown or MT is covering!  I’ve definitely heard other people say that they were told in advance their shops wouldn’t get it.

  21. The shop I went to had it.

  22. After I stopped caring about who’s who (trying to spot my favorite muties) I did enjoy this book. It is a 4 issue mini…though I don’t think that some of the other NOIR titles will be (Daredevil, Wolverine).

    I saw this was pick of the week and was very excited, then ((No offense)) I saw it was Ron’s pick and figured "well it’s an X-book" even with the noir twist i thought it would be too good for him to pass on. I’ll be interested to get Connor and Josh’s take from the show.

  23. A good review for a good pick (I may be biased as a fan of "noir").  This issue again demonstrates that Marvel is capable of producing a high quality, out of continuity, "elseworlds" type book.  A welcome relief from "Marvel Apes".

  24. since im not rich im having to decide between this, what if fallen son or secret invasion dark reign….

  25. Jesus Christ. Ron just can’t help himself.

  26. Good pick Ron.  I, too, had no intention of getting this title until I saw the pretty pictures.  Glad I did, because the story was pretty intruiging.  My only gripe is that Marvel’s old character, The Angel (the Nazi-bashing adventurer, not the mutant) seemed out of place in the story that we’ve gotten so far. I was totally digging the no-capes, no-powers approach that seemed to be the order of the day, but my mind could easily change by next issue, though, because I have a fondness for the character’s old stories.  It was just a head-scratcher when I saw him leaping over the Xavier School’s fence: "Is that a cape?"

  27. After reading, Amazing Spider-Man, Hellboy, Batman, and Criminal, I don’t know how the hell this is the pick this week.  Ron, stop taking your crazy pills!

  28. I really did enjoy this book, but I couldn’t get over some of the art.  I hated the Xavier scene.  There were multiple uses of the same panel that didn’t do anything to add to the tension of the conversation.  It look like neither of them moved the entire time.  Just… eerie. Seemed a bit lazy.  It also wasn’t clear as to how to read the page.  I thought you were supposed to go across the top row at first because I didn’t see a gutter in between them.  (This was actually because it was on the stapling) I realized that the two sentences in the panels definitely didn’t fit together so I read it the correct way.  The design of the characters and clothes was great.  That page just drove me nuts.

  29. I almost bought this, but the $3.99 price tag made me put it back on the shelf.  Plus, I thought it was meant as a joke.  I thought Marvel was just poking fun at crime books.

  30. @Neb  I didn’t read the others, but I actually liked ‘Noir’ a bit better than ‘Criminal.’  I love what Brubaker’s doing, but this felt fresher.

  31. Is there a way to mark a book as a "Pick of My Life" and not simply a "Pick of the Week"?  I’d like to do that with Hellboy.  

  32. Can’t pay 4$

  33. @paul.  You love Hellboy a bit too much.  I swaear every time I’ve gotten online this past week you’ve either tweeted about that issue or posted about it on iFanboy.  Its actually making me wanna pick it up. haha.

  34. @Anson17 – Then it’s working!  

    It’s such a cool concept.  This secret society of noblemen put on costumes and go out hunting gangs of giants!   

  35. @Paul… You’re kidding!!! That’s fucking brilliant if I do say so myself!  I’ve only read a bit of Hellboy.  How accesible is it?

  36. I didn’t pick this up on Thursday, but after I saw it was the pick I went back for it. I’m glad I did because this was the best book of the week. The art was beautiful, I love the idea and the execution is more creepy and eerie than I was expecting.  I particularly love the idea that in this world, Xavier believes sociopaths are the next evolutionary step for humanity. It’s reminiscent of Leopold and Loeb, thrill killers from the ’40s who thought it was okay to kill people because they thought they were innately superior. So far no one has had powers and I hope it stays that way. I love the powers-like abilities i.e. Jean Grey being such a good con artists it’s "like she reads minds". 

    Great pick, Ron!

  37. @Anson17 – You need to at least have read Darkness Calls to fully appreciate this new series.  But well worth it, obviously.  I expect your full report next week.  

  38. Ok, I’ve got my homework assignment.  I’ll just snag my buddies copy of darkness calls and pick this up when I get to my shop next.

  39. I can’t believe I typed "buddies" and not "buddy’s."  I make myself sick sometimes.

  40. Interesting pick. If it’s just 4 issues then I don’t have to wait too long before a trade comes out. Does anybody have a clue re: Marvel’s compilation process? Do they always release the Premier Hardcovers first, AND THEN the trades? Or is it vice versa? Does it depend on the mini-series/story being traded?

  41. I can’t wait to pick this up. I hear good things…other than this

  42. i thought this was really good. great pick ron

  43. I really love the noir style and genre but this didn’t turn my crank. Could it be that it’s because I’m not an x-fan?

  44. I don’ t think that being an X-fan had much to do with my liking this book.  If anything, I had to overcome an instinctive "Wow, I really don’t like my favorite characters being portrayed as sociopaths" reaction.  This was a first chapter, it lay some interesting groundwork, and while I spent a little time matching characters up to their comics equivalents, I thought the story stood fine on its own. 

  45. I just noticed the "what did the iFanbase think?" sidebar next to the review. Is this a new feature?

  46. @JJ – Nope, it’s been there since we added the new features in February.

  47. Well, wadda ya know!

  48. My shop said they only got half there order of this so i have to wait til next week to read it, but I love "noir’ so I can’t wait.

  49. @PaulMontgomery I know this post is very late in the game but I totally feel you on this issue of Hellboy. Best one I’ve ever read. EVER. Jason Aaron’s Punisher X-Mas Special was what did it for me this week however.

  50. Damn, it sounds interesting but I already got so many comics in the bag for this week.  I can’t spend more then $30 on comics in one week.  That is my own self-pity rule.

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