“The Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire: Part 2 of 12”
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Billy Tan
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: Professor X leads his team to a hidden Shi’ar observation post in upstate New York; if he’s going to aid the Shi’ar against Vulcan, he’s going to need Shi’ar tech to do it.
Comments: This story moves along nicely with another solid issue of Brubaker’s sci-fi X-Men story. Leaving mutant angst behind for a while, Brubaker takes off on the other part of their legacy: the sci-fi trappings and space opera that the Phoenix/Shi’ar interaction has always lent them.
This story directly continues from Deadly Genesis, which retconned some new mutants into the seminal origin story of the 2nd era of Charles’s mutant team. I found that mini-series to be a bit overwrought and strained, and the Trevor Hairsine art to be quite rushed.
But this epic promises fresher territory, as extended stays in Shi’ar space aren’t really a big part of the X-mythos. Mysteries about Scott’s parents, about the Starjammers and the role of Emperor D’Ken in the horrors visited upon all three sons still wait to be resolved, and Brubaker seems to have done his homework.
Even better than making good retcons, Brubaker is telling a good new tale. The classic power array of this team is used to good effect, mixing psychic, energy and physical gifts in an entertaining way. This is a pretty formidable X-team, all of them either graduated long ago from Charles’s training, or self-taught to a similar skill level. The enemies this issue (a Shi’ar variation on cyborg slave hounds) assess their targets well, and wisely take out Lorna and Havoc first.
Or they try to. They’re not a very formidable force, and the X-Men make short work of them, acquiring their real target quickly: a Shi’ar space ship needed for the trip to the stars. Here Tan does a great job of capturing the old concept of Shi’ar space ships (they look like giant insects), coming up with a high-tech sort of scorpion-thing. How refreshing that the X-Men don’t have Quinjets (which are capable of limited spaceflight sometimes), but instead must dock their stealth jet to get off-planet. So much more convincing than certain Avengers flitting back and forth to the sun faster than light speed without even mention of a space warp in other titles.
Really, though, any book that dresses Lorna in her green variation on the Scarlet Witch tiara outfit is all right with me. If this quality continues (and heads towards more epic foes and dilemmas, as it must), I’ll be a very satisfied X-fan.
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