Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: The Marauders continue their hits on the X-Men Universe. Emma is down but not out. Characters return true to form and everything old is new again and another blah backup story.
Commentary: The X-Men are back! And so are their classic villains! You say they were never gone? Well, personally Iíve been disillusioned with The X-Men for the most part post-Grant Morrison and most definitively since the time Chuck Austen and Peter Milligan took over and forward. Ever since Austen and Milliganís runs, ďThe Strangest Heroes of Them AllĒ were not only stranger than ever but almost made unrecognizable save for Joss Whedonís Astonishing X-Men where they are still the characters we know with some nice modern twists (albeit schedule delays are killing any caring if the story ever ends) and killer art.
In this issue of X-Men I think Mike Carey has finally hit his stride on the book feeling comfortable in the characters' skins and giving us classic X-Men formula with neat little updates. The best X-Men stories have been with the X-Men captured and on the run from overwhelming odds. I can finally forgive all the nonsense of the past few years where the trend seems to have been to flip flop heroes and make them villains (Gambit, Sunfire, etc.) and take villains and make them heroes (Juggernaut, Mystique, Lady Mastermind, Sabretooth, etc.). Here Carey rectifies some of those errors in story telling judgement by giving us what we love and want by returning Mystique and Lady Mastermind back to form as he did with Gambit last issue (well, at least in the visual sense, ďDark GambitĒ was atrocious). They are villains, and we like them that way. Mystique is back to her merciless and deadly ways and best of all leading a revived team of Marauders against the X-Men. I kept doing mental flashbacks and smiles to all of those forays of her Brotherhood of Evil Mutants against the X-Men.
Another homage to X-Men blockbusters of the past was having the relatively younger X-Men separate from the team to save the day. Here, Emma commandeers Cannonball's motor functions while downloading as much of the Marauders' plans into his head and steering him into a furious and fun rescue of Iceman so they can blast off to the Marauders' next target. The whole, seen as written and drawn, is full of a kinetic frenzy, and choosing Cannonball was perfect in this for obvious reasons. There is a heightening feeling of desperation which you only get from the grandest of adventures. Carey is giving us that. A classic X-Men adventure. He does this while having some fun of his own with the charactersí powers. Icemanís powers are crippled in an amusing yet fiendish way by Mystique, and the way he gets his powers to reboot and recharge is as equally amusing and dangerous. Toward the end of the issue itís revealed that because of his great invulnerability in his armored form Colossus canít feel or sense changes in air pressure. Though he has great strength, his power turns out to be a liability in this case. Carey is thinking more and more about these characters, giving us back their personalities while making them his own at the same time.
Humberto Ramosís art has always been hit or miss for me. Thereís no doubt he can tell a story and his fast pencils are well suited to the energy of this current tale, but at times things seem a little too rushed. Heís also a bit too Manga for me sometimes. Everyone looks younger than they should accept for the New X-Men who are the youngest in the series. Will anyone ever draw Iceman as a grown-up? I mean, he was one of the original X-Men for Peteís sake. Give Shiro his old costume back or at least a variation of it and somebody get a definitive look for Exodus please! He looks very generic in the closing scene. As a potential leader or lieutenant of baddies, he just lacks presence in the art. This has always been a problem with him.
My comments about the back-up "Endangered Species" storyline are few. So far itís only mildly interesting to me with just serviceable art. Hopefully, itís just prologue to something big and impressive, but I fear the sub-story may just go out with a whimper. As refreshing as this issue was in a long line of bad X-Men stories, Iím finding it hard to anticipate any upcoming events like I used to. Iíll follow up on Careyís storyline here because heís caught my attention, but Marvel will need to do more to get me to put all the X-Men books back on my must buy list.
Final Word: This issue is a grabber for old and new X-Men fans alike.
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