The war with the Inhumans behind them, the X-Men have moved to New York City. Literally moved the mansion to Central Park. The idea is that they're no longer hiding from the rest of humanity, making it less likely they'll be feared and hated. It also makes stopping the latest alien attack more convenient.
What Terrax wants we don't find out; he's basically just around to be beaten up, his Earth-moving mojo a useful threat allowing the team to show off their powers and teamwork.
And what teamwork. Under new leader Kitty Pryde, this is one tight unit. She's also pretty good at the old speechifying, talking to the public post-saving the day.
An encounter with a city official, Alex Sandstrom (whom I desperately tried to anagrammatise into someone evil... Dasalx Monster really isn't that convincing), somewhat ruins the mood.
Back at the ranch - or rather, the newly christened Xavier Institute for Mutant Education and Outreach - subplots abound. A mutant hater on TV causes Nightcrawler and Storm to ponder how far they haven't come.
And Kitty and Colossus ponder changed relationships.
Writer Mark Guggenheim is open about the book's mission on the future letters page: 'We're going to tell stories that feel like a throwback to the halcyon days of Uncanny X-Men while still being fresh and new'. The story's even called 'Back to the Basics'.
Well, he's off to a good start here, with a team made up of classic members and fan favourites, a terrific super-villain encounter, a Danger Room session, superhero softball, enjoyable character interaction, one 'fuzzy elf', one I 'survived the experience' and two 'the more things change'. It is indeed greatest hits time, a welcome back to fans who abandoned the book during the frankly rubbish last few years. OK, we also get the modern cliche of 'I got this' twice, but into every X-Men a little Marrow/Maggott/Stacey X must fall.
I don't see the sense of moving the mansion to Central Park and suspect the big rent bill is a precursor to a speedy move back to Westchester.
Rachel's new codename makes her sound like a huge egotist, but I suppose it's 'prestige' in the magical, glamour sense.
The anti-mutant woman, Lydia Nance, is the kind of throwback I don't want to see... when will these people learn? HMD really is splitting hairs - who cares how a person comes by their powers, they're no more or less a threat to anyone. What counts is character.
Terrax, while he could be replaced by any mid-level villain - Absorbing Man, Super-Skrull, Destroyer - was fun to see, and an indicator that this book will be more than mutant in-fighting.
There are two references to 'the Avengers and Champions' as popular, mighty teams with implied parity, so either Marvel, having given up on trying to make the Inhumans 'happen', has turned to the Champions. Mind, both times it's a comment by Rachel so perhaps it's the birth of a running gag... a mildly grumpy Rachel could be fun.
On the 'more things change' front, given how self-aware these X-Men are, I wonder if Guggenheim will have the likes of Storm, Kurt, Kitty and Peter examine their lives a tad. They've all tried to break away from the team every now and then but they always return. Why is seeking out super-fights preferable to really committing to a 'normal' life, one in which powers are just an aspect of you rather than your whole being? I almost expect a storyline called X-rrested Development' (Lord knows, Marvel has written stories around clunkier not-quite-puns).
Ardian Syaf, whose work I've enjoyed at DC over the last few years, makes, I believe, his Marvel series debut here and it's knockout stuff. His action scenes are skilfully choreographed, his character work is excellent - when was the last time an artist remembered Kitty isn't meant to be conventionally pretty? - and his backgrounds first rate. I hope he settles in for a long run on this bi-weekly book, alongside announced alternate pencillers Ken Lashley and RB Silva
The work of Syaf is inked by Jay Leisten and coloured by Frank Martin and the combination is a winner... I especially like their updates of classic costumes, Kitty's sweatshirt and the slight glow Martin gives Storm's eyes. Cory Petit's letters are also worthy of praise, being attractively precise without homaging longtime X-letterer Tom Orzechowski, whose immediately recognisable style actually birthed a font. Extra praise if Petit added that almost 3D rumble effect during the Terrax fight.
Syaf, Leisten and colourist Laura Martin's main cover is straightforward yet striking, and how cute is the returned corner artwork? I hope they keep it. As for the dozen or so variants, I've not seen them as Marvel, unlike DC, don't throw them into the ComiXology digital package, but I'm sure they're just lovely.
The issue also has a feature, The Road to X-Men Gold, which uses panels from 60 years, and probably as many series, to illustrate the history of Marvel's occasional merry mutants. It's a great guide to who died, when.
I loved this debut. For the first time in years it feels like Marvel Comics is back.