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X-Men #176

Posted: Monday, October 24, 2005
By: Paul T. Semones



“Wild Kingdom 3 of 4” (Crossover with Black Panther)

Writer: Peter Milligan
Artists: Salvador Larroca (p), Danny Miki & Allen Martinez (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics


Plot: Turns out there’s another bad guy in this fictional, destabilized African country. He’s an old-school Communist whose henchmen are talking apes. Seems he wants to resurrect the glories of the Marxist state by wiping out humans and replacing them with a proletariat of smart simians.

Yeah.

Black Panther and Storm trade some dialogue that is apparently intended to suggest sexual tension, bad memories of a past relationship, and even (if I’m reading between the clumsy lines of dialogue right) wit.

The X-Men are blackmailed into working for the evil scientist guy because he hangs Polaris way up high in this metal cage and has “mutated snake venom” trickling into her veins. The collected wisdom and heroic experience of the X-Men are not equal to the task of rescuing her from this ingenious peril.

Commentariat: This is a joke, right?

This is Peter Milligan saying “screw you” to Marvel editorial for shoving a lame cross-over idea into his book. Surely, that explains this juvenile issue. Surely, Milligan is more creative than this. Surely, he wouldn’t have taken over one of the X-titles just to show the comic buying public that the X-Men and their book suck, right? We readers are the victims of some internal spat?

I hope that’s the explanation, because this issue is total crap.

Look, the most visually exciting panel in the issue is when the Red Ghost commie-villain’s two talking apes come charging menacingly out of the page … because he told them to go inventory the evil scientist’s lab.

And what’s this dastardly scheme about, anyway? He wants to make some kind of People’s Republic of Apes, but he’s a human. I don’t get it. Maybe if he had some diabolical monologue about the virtues of primitive simian life and the evils of modern humanity, I’d buy it. But Milligan is not to be bothered with actually setting up any sort of motivation for this silliness. That kind of stuff might have worked in X-Statix, where the goofy art tells you that you’re not supposed to take things too seriously. But not here.

Black Panther’s speech patterns are inscrutable. Is he a regal king? A flippant street punk? A petulant boy with a crush on a woman who thinks he’s a jerk? I can’t tell, and I don’t detect that Milligan cares.

The X-Men are wimps. Wolverine might as well be replaced by one of these idiotic talking apes, for all the value he brings to the squad. The “Perils of Polaris” scene is just so stupid it serves as its own commentary. See “Plot” section above.

If there’s one redeeming quality about this issue, it’s the fact that it’s an extra-thick 48-pager. Only 23 pages of the pamphlet are devoted to the lousy story. One page serves as a text recapper for those who are just tuning in, but the other 24 pages are nothing but glorious, magnificently rendered advertisements. And only two of those are Marvel in-house ads!

Yes, for a second month in a row, Marvel has adopted the Vogue theory of magazine production. Your magazine is a vehicle for the latest sales pitches on merchandise that appeals to your key demographic. Actual content is secondary to the important task of showing your readership the best new stuff their money can buy.

I could almost excuse it last month. Then, all the Marvel books had to expand to support the 4-page “Howling Commandos” preview. Okay, so to make their margins, Marvel decided they had to increase the ad count. I’d buy that explanation.

But continuing the jumbo-sized ad count this month is suicidal. Are you trying to convert me into a wait-for-the-trade guy, Marvel?

I’m so pissed I could break the Internet in half.



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