The paraphrase Tony Shaloub from Galaxy Quest: Well that was a heck of a thing.
This book may be a bit of a misstep in the “Messiah CompleX” storyline. There was so much that happened, that was relatively undefined that we ended up with something that is closer to Countdown to Final Crisis than the 12 issue tight story we have seen so far from the recent X-books.
That isn’t to say the book is really bad, it is just a bit muddled. I think that if the book was twice as long, and had slightly more exposition in dialogue and less in showing powers of characters, this would have provided a more satisfying read. The big fight that we expected from the last issue in this storyline happened and, boy howdy did it ever happen. There are great moments: The breath in the storyline before the backup team of X-Men crashed in on the Marauders was great old-school style action from Marvel comics. The material at the wrecked X-mansion was pretty well laid out in terms of storyboarding, so the action was actually quite coherent.
That being said, there are beats in the story that just don’t work. In some cases it is because the frames do not link up in terms of the motion of the characters. This was true in particular for the stuff with Wolfsbane, and with Warpath. It was just too hard to tell where characters were and what positions they were in to be able to understand the action.
The similarity of characters is somewhat disconcerting, given that Cyclops looks like Professor X, who looks like a bleached version of Bishop. However, while the colors were well done on the powers, there is so much ambient light included in scenes that it further confuses the characters at times.
That being said, the non-human X-Men, in particular the younger members, are outstandingly well detailed. I think that it is those characters that the artists are most familiar with that shine in the issue.
There are some really amazing plot points that I do not want to spoil too much, but Raven Darkholme steals the show in terms of moving the story forward in this one. I think that the presentation of Gambit, especially given his reaction to Sinister is immensely well done . It is not only consistent with his previous appearances, but it links in directly with the ill-fated Gambit series (which I own) from the late '90s, and the “Trial of Gambit” issue of Uncanny X-men from just after “Operation Zero Tolerance”.
Kudos to all of the authors in this book, and to the editors for the characterizations in all of the X-titles right now. Keeping such close tabs on the continuity of a collection of characters with muddled histories, especially Gambit, Cable, Cyclops and Bishop, is to be commended and noted by the industry. It makes for a satisfying read.
Next week…the fate of the X-baby!
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