Thursday, July 21, 2011

Odyssey X, Week 2: X-Men #15, X-Factor #222, Uncanny X-Men #541

(For those joining late, please see the introductory post on Odyssey X, where I explain my attempt to read every X-Men title during X-Men: Schism)

X-Men #15
Writer: Christopher Yost
Artist(s): Dalibor Talajic & Wil Quintana
Cover Price: $3.99

It's tough for a reader to jump into a story at the end of a multi-issue arc. All of the previous momentum is meant to culminate at long last, but instead of relief we get a bombardment of mindless action sequences with little attention to character development. At least that's how it felt reading X-Men #15. Cyclops and company are attempting to stop an old enemy who want to destroy all of mankind in order to protect mutants. The issue jumps back and forth between the current struggle and their original confrontation with these Evolutionaries. The big difference we see between "then" and "now" is that Magneto is no longer working with the enemy, but other than that it is the same, "We don't want your genocide, thanks." The previous and current battles are relentless to the last page. It may sound exciting, but without any tension or real danger, it is a tedious read. Their is little reflection, and each and every character feels inconsequential. Literally, there are characters that make one appearance, or simply stand in the background looking menacing. Can we even technically call them characters? Window-dressing would be a more appropriate description. Namor is in this book, and I have no idea why he is in league with the X-men. Storm also makes a silent appearance. When fans talk about a comic not doing their favorite characters justice, this is exactly what they mean. This book should only have as many characters as Christopher Yost  (or any writer) can write and keep well rounded. Currently, no one stands out in this over-crowded book.

Verdict: Back on the shelf. Maybe a new story arc will embrace "less is more".


X-Factor #222
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Emanuela Lupacchino
Cover Price: $2.99

Here's another book mid-storyline, but in this case it isn't a chore to read. This being the only x-title I have been consecutively reading for the last several years, I don't have the same perspective as a new reader, but even an old biased fan like myself can see why this comic is more engaging than any other X-Men book this week. A new reader may not know why Shatterstar and a pregnant Rahne are in danger, or why "Strong Man" Guido is returning from a recent hospital trip, but they will care for these characters. Despite the imminent danger the gang faces, we actually see them interacting, not just throwing punches. Another reason Peter David's title will stand out is because it is a very different concept from the other X-Men titles. It isn't set in San Francisco or Utopia, and Cyclops and Emma Frost don't make an appearance (and I thought Wolverine was overexposed). X-Factor isn't a one-note comic, either. It's as exciting as it is funny, and often heart wrenching. Lucky for readers new and old, Lupacchino returns to the art for this issue. If there is one fault X-Factor has, it is too frequent changes of artists.

Verdict: Bagged, boarded, and kept in the long box. Also the cheapest book this week!


Uncanny X-Men #541 (Fear Itself tie-in)
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Greg Land
Cover Price: $3.99

In another smash-em bash-em book this week, Cyclops and company must prevent Juggernaut from destroying San Francisco. A normally easily defeated enemy, this time he wields one Asgardian hammer and appears to be especially indestructible. Even super-charged, he makes a comical villain. Every word from his mouth is garbled magic-speak, but it looks more like mystical burps as they are only ever one-word blurbs. The almost military like precision of Cyclops leadership is unable to stop this mindless threat from continuing his charge on San Francisco. Of all the fear-inducing enemies, the X-Men have Juggernaut? Why even have a Fear Itself tie in? Another particularly lacking element was the portrayal of new mutant Hope. Greg Land does little to show any difference in appearance of this new mutant to Jean Grey. She also looks no where near her young age. Land has been drawing various x-books for several years, and that must mean he has faithful fans out there. I find his overly cheesecake depictions of female characters distracting. Since he is known to use photo references for his work, it is baffling that all the women he draws look so similar. Women come in all shapes and sizes (and have different noses, mouths, and eyes) but the differences here are left to hair style and clothing. In contrast, his male characters are far more dynamic and distinguishable. Personal preference aside, this book could use some fresh talent, if not to attract the once large female fan base these titles once touted.

Verdict: Back to the shelf. Not even a little sad to see it go.


Week 2 Summary
Total Potential Cost: $10.97
1 Book Purchased, 2 Books Shelved


What makes these books unique? Why would a reader pick up one over the other, or any at all? With the exception of X-Factor, this week saw two very similar struggles, each with a similar roster of characters as well. Enemy threatens humans. X-Men move to intervene. Cyclops was there! Emma Frost uses her mental powers at some point! Schism will result in two different teams with very different ideologies. The split couldn't come soon enough, and I'm beginning to think two teams may not be enough to sustain all of these books.

Note:
Last week I had a miscalculation of the potential cost for the comics in Week 1. The error has been corrected. Thanks, careful readers for pointing this out!

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