Writer: Mike Carey
Artist(s): Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: Everyone’s chasing red herrings in the hunt for the new mutant baby, accept the ONE who has her.
Commentary: An all out assault by the X-Men on Mr. Sinister’s Antarctic base and the big reveal of who exactly has the baby are what highlights this chapter in the “Messiah Complex” storyline. I’ll do something here out of the ordinary for me. I’ll comment on the art first simply because I really haven’t liked Chris Bachalo’s art the past few years. It’s been more chaotic than usual and hard to follow. Here with the able inking assists of Tim Townsend Bachalo’s pencils are easier on the eyes and given more clarity than I’ve seen in quite awhile. I remember Bachalo’s art back in his Generation X days and that’s when it was really good to me. This issue of X-Men hearkens back to those days of appreciation. Nice job! This is of note because the storyline this issue is basically several pitched battles amongst a load of characters from the X-Universe. It is bombastic chaos and Bachalo and Townsend present it in a sensible, enjoyable way. The cover to this issue by David Finch provides an ominously lurking Sinister threatening from behind the scenes. I remember when he first appeared during the “Inferno” storyline back in the ‘80s. This is a classic portrayal of this villain although he’s been more in the forefront of “Messiah Complex” than a behind the scenes manipulator. I’ve been wondering if the new mutant baby has something to do with the Summer’s family line. The Summer’s family has always been Sinister’s obsession. By issues end we get a strong hint that this may indeed be the case. Sinister, ever having the upper hand, has this time been one-upped!
The reveal of who has the baby comes as a surprise since the character that has her was supposedly eliminated from the chessboard a few chapters ago. The revelation also gives us the true motivation and purpose of why Gambit is where he is in the current status quo of the X-Universe. After being handled so poorly along with lots of other X-Men by writers who did not have a grasp of these characters we get logical and totally in character motivations surrounding Gambit. Let’s put it this way, if you carried the guilt of enabling “The Mutant Massacre” years ago what would you do given the chance to save the mutant race? This storyline is starting to examine that question from the perspective of more characters than just Gambit. Scott Summers is making decisions he never would have before. Another member of the Summer’s line has put balls in motion that will potentially put him at odds with just about everyone over this new baby. The questions still up in the air over who ‘the Messiah’ of the mutant race will be, but the more immediate focus of this story is what the key players are willing to do to get there. I was starting to think this whole storyline would be just one big slugfest (as the distinguished competitions “Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul” is turning out to be) but Brubaker, Carey, David, Kyle and Yost are giving us all we could want from an X-Men blockbuster. That being heart-stopping, high stakes action coupled with poignant moral dilemma against a backdrop of desperate fighting for survival.
Some things I would like to see moving forward. Firstly, some more exposition around Lady Deathstrike and the current bunch of Reavers. I haven’t seen her around in awhile, at least not since the atrocious “God Loves, Man Kills” sequel a few years back. What are her current feelings and motivations? Where did the new Reavers come from and exactly what are their powers or are they just advanced humans? Sinister’s powers have been sketchy historically. What are they exactly? What did he get all those years ago from Apocalypse? He’s a cool visual with and evil mind but some more fleshing out during this story would be welcome. Lastly, it looks as if the new Sentinels of O.N.E. are finally going to be eliminated. They were a bad idea from their inception and I don’t think I’ve seen the X-Mansion get invaded more since they were put there to keep an eye on the X-Men. It looks as if they’ll be used to good effect and then either changed or discarded. Fine by me.
Oh yeah, who has the baby? Nah, I’m not telling. Read it for yourself.
Final Word: Some great character developments amidst an all out war for survival make the old X-Men cross-over epics new again.
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