By Francesco Artibani, Michele Medda, Denis Medri, Roberto Di Salvo & Marco Failla; translated by Luigi Mutti (Marvel/Panini UK)
ISBN: 978-1-90523-998-6

Here’s an intriguing re-imagining of the key elements that have made the X-Men a global phenomenon, courtesy of the company’s international connections. Created by European creators and published under the Marvel Transatlantique imprint this oddly numbered miniseries (1A&B – 4A&B) is set on the sprawling campus of the Worthington Foundation in Greenwich, Connecticut. This unique academy draws special students from all over the world…

The guy in charge is Professor Magnus whilst Charles Xavier is a biology teacher with an assistant named Jean Grey. The student body is highly polarised: First year students Hank McCoy, Scott Summers, Bobby Drake, Ororo Munroe, Warren Worthington III and the unruly Logan are all good kids. Magnus’s favoured group (all analogues of the Hellfire Club, led by the telepathic jailbait wild-child Emma Frost) – not to mention his school caretakers Mesmero, Pyro, Toad and Blob – clearly have a hidden agenda and turn all their dubious charms to getting new girl Anna Raven (you’ll know her as Rogue) to join their clique.

Magnus/Magneto is using the school to recruit a mutant army and Xavier’s plan is to covertly rescue impressionable mutants before it’s too late. Foiling the villain’s plan to acquire both the teleporter Kurt Wagner and Russian Man of Steel Peter Rasputin only leads to greater conflict and the maturing kids must decide once and for all whether they’ll be friends or foes of humanity…

Compacting all the elements of X-lore into a school divided between “goodies” and “baddies” works surprisingly well, as does making all the heroes troubled teenagers. This oddly engaging blend of The Demon Headmaster and Roswell High is written with great charm by Artibani and Medda, and whilst the manga style art (reminiscent of many modern animation shows for kids) is a little jarring to my old eyes, it does carry the tale with clarity and effectiveness, aimed as it is at drawing in a more contemporary audience, not cranky old gits like me.

Probably not welcomed by die-hard fans, this is nonetheless a refreshing take on the merry mutants and I’d honestly welcome more of the same. If you’re not too wedded to continuity and could stand a breezy change of pace, why not give this intriguing experiment a go?

© 2008 Marvel Entertainment, Inc. and its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved. (A BRITISH EDITION BY PANINI UK LTD)