No more mutants, no more Avengers, no more Phoenix, no more islands – and now No More Humans! This has been a massive week for Marvel, with the launch of Original Sin and the release of Mike Carey’s excellent Original Graphic Novel! I’ve already done an article telling you everything you need to know about Original Sin, but here’s my review of Mike Carey’s OGN!
Carey is very fondly remembered by X-Men fans, not least because of his superb work on X-Men: Legacy. He’s noted for strong characterisation and plotting, and No More Humans is a perfect example. He’s joined by Sal Larocca, who delivers seriously high-quality art.
No More Humans is appropriately titled; the core concept is really a reversal of the impact of House of M, with the human race mysteriously disappearing. Planes – no longer piloted – fall from the sky (one on the Jean Grey School lawn); driverless cars crash; and only the mutant race is left.
The X-Men begin an investigation that faces them with alternate realities and Raze, the future son of Wolverine and Mystique from Battle of the Atom (and an X-villain who’s just come to the top of my list of ‘coolness’, frankly).
Although the premise seems dark – the potential extinction of the entire Human race – Carey infuses his plot with energy and excitement. Humour is quirky and entertaining, yet always appropriate. Carey roots the story in the present-day in terms of Marvel Time, with a resurrected Nightcrawler, ANXM Scott no longer in the team, and Quicksilver in his new X-Factor costume.
In reality, this story is a celebration of everything the X-Men are and have ever been. Early on, Magneto asks a poignant question that made me grin broadly, as it seemed so very appropriate:
When Battle of the Atom brought X-Man against X-Man, Carey brings the X-Men together – and the quality of his teamwork is like nothing we’ve seen since before Schism. It’s seriously refreshing! My only issue is that I feel this should have been released last year, as part of the X-Men’s fiftieth anniversary celebrations. It’s better than Battle of the Atom was, that’s for sure.
Characterisation is key, and Carey is balancing an enormous cast. In spite of this, even momentary glimpses – such as the handful of scenes involving Psylocke – are rich in character. Cyclops and Wolverine are played up against one another in style, agreeing to work together in spite of their history.
Cyclops is actually rather interesting here. Although he’s willing to bend and even break morals and taboos, he’s doing so with a focus on the preservation of both the human and the mutant race. This is a very cool development, as it stands against a lot of his characterisation in the run-up to AvX; it also stands against Wolverine’s own expectations, and really does help us work towards the reconciliation of the different bands of X-Men.
Wolverine cuts an amusing figure here too, and you feel as though his dislike of Cyclops nowadays is personal rather than based on any real point of morality. And the lines are usually laugh-out-loud funny.
Magneto has the most interesting journey, and I’m going to be very careful not to spoil this much. Suffice to say that it’s one that truly explores the depth of character and history he has, and Magneto shows himself as pragmatic and intelligent. His single best moment is when he psycho-analyses Raze:
And Jean Grey has an amazing plotline, one that culminates in her facing her past and her future. Again, I’m not going to spoil anything, but the twists are fantastic, and her journey is so very well done. For those who haven’t yet read it, take this scene as a teaser:
Yes, No More Humans has to go down as a roaring success – possibly the single best X-Men story I’ve read since Messiah CompleX. I heartily recommend it.
And, by the way, I think Kitty is right to keep an eye on Old Scott and ANXM Jean…