I’ve spent a long time just looking at the pages of this issue. At first glance, I really don’t want to like Filipe Andrade’s art. It’s stylized to a point where it’s almost confusing. Think Humberto Ramos mixed with Jae Lee. But when I get up on a page and really study it, I am mesmerized. There are two pages in particular that draw me in; there are two instances of Nomad being trapped by Onslaught and to set it apart, Andrade refrains from hard inks and just relies on pencils to soften Nomad’s edges. I absolutely love that! Sean McKeever has crafted a really neat event-level kind of book, but the fact that it’s only involving the Secret Avengers and the Young Allies somehow makes it tighter and cleaner. In this issue, he takes advantage of the relationships of the characters in order to explore them more. Steve Rogers is paired with Toro, Gravity is paired with Moon Knight, and Spider-Girl and Firestar team with Black Widow. All of the younger heroes get some instruction on hero-ing which is always cool to see. But this issue is really about the growing threat of Onslaught, who has taken over Nomad, has turned some child soldiers into mindless slaves, has impaled Beast, and has consumed Ant-Man into doing some dirty work for him. All this and a twist in the end about Nomad and you’ve got yourself a really enjoyable comic book. -JJ
After a very long hiatus, one of our favorite mutants finally returns to this series- Kitty Pryde. Last we saw her was early on in the Ultimate Spidey reboot, sulking in an alley corner. Here, she returns as her bad-red-robed self, whooping bad guys. We’re treated to a nice heart to heart with her and Pete, as Kitty explains her absence was due to getting “freaked out.” Given the events of Ultimatum, and the fact that humans in the Ultimate Universe still despise mutants to the point of a death wish, who can blame her? She re-unites with the Parker household too, which includes Iceman, and the two appear to be happy to see each other. I’m cool with that. I thought she and Bobby made for a fun-loving couple back in the day, and I wouldn’t mind seeing the two of them try their chemistry once again. Bendis, as usual, nails the dialogue in this issue. ‘Nuff said, right? As for Chris Samnee’s art- it’s ok, but far from what we’ve been used to in this series. I like how he depicts Kitty, breaking away from her traditionally preppy motif: she looks age appropriate here, and has a moody look, which is fitting. However, Samnee’s Peter Parker seems way too young- like 13 or 14 young, instead of 16…which is a little odd because I like his depiction of M.J., but she looks too old for him- around 17 or so. This story line has been sporting the banner, “Death of Spider-Man: Prelude,” but the ending of this issue leads me to believe that while Spider-Man may be dying soon, I highly doubt Peter Parker will be. My theory? Ultimate Spider-Man will be no more, and Peter Parker will don a new superhero mantle…the Iron Spider perhaps? -AL
This issue is the prologue to the much anticipated Daken/X-23 crossover! Marjorie Liu and Daniel Way have done a nice job leading up to this point in both titles, having brought these characters together in a way that makes sense and serves both their stories. X-23 is hunting Malcolm Concord, whom she believes to have fled to Madripoor, whilst Daken, in his own series, has just become the boss of all crime there. It’s inevitable and fitting that these two should meet up then, right? We still have to wait for the show down though, as this issue tells the story of Laura and Gambit’s journey to Madripoor, and it’s laden with filthy pirates. Sadly, artists Will Conrad and David Lopez didn’t work on this issue, and I missed them. Regardless, Sana Takeda does a solid job (I just prefer the other dudes), especially with the look of X-23 which reminds me of Mike Choi’s take on the character. However, the neon colors she used were a bit much, as were the thick lines bordering everyone. Even so, her artwork is beautiful- especially the scenery- and she depicts some solid combat sequences. X-23 carves the bejeezus out of multiple great white sharks in this one. Yeah, you read that correctly, great white sharks! Although, I’m getting sick of Gambit always getting his ass kicked in this series. It seems like every other issue he’s getting K.O.’ed, and I think Remy is better than that. Liu is nicely capturing the Gambit/X-23 dynamic with each chapter- two tortured souls in search of redemption and their own identity, who have abilities in stealth and hand-to-hand combat. The combo works, and I’m glad she’s avoiding any sort of romantic entanglement, because that would just be weird. -AL
At first, I was thinking that it was not a good idea for Carey to try to ride on the coattails of Age of Apocalypse by calling this Age of X. But I see now that he did that in order to draw us away from what this story is about in order to surprise us. This alternate-reality (if that’s what it is) tale just got what it really needed to get interesting again. Where once we thought this was going to be yet another mutants vs. the world story, it has proven to be much better than that old cliche. Carey has intentionally kept the reader in the dark as to what’s really going on here, and that has added such an awesome level of mystery to find out who’s really good and who’s really bad. Legacy is hot on the trail of discovering what’s really going on, and that has made her an outlaw amongst outlaws. In this issue, she gets some help from Wolverine and Gambit, but is it enough to get her fanny out of the fryer? Magneto is proving to be a much more sinister villain than I thought he would be here, and Basilisk is about as bad-ass as he can be, making me wish Cyclops were the same. What I really love about this is that it has effectively reinvented the X-Men into something new and different, while messing with our notions of who the X-Men are in order to keep the mystery engaging. For example, pitting a powerless Wolverine against a hardcore group of New Mutants with no action at all provides a fantastic movement of the story and showcases all of these characters beautifully. Clay Mann is really growing on me as an artist. Whereas I was calling him boring a few issues ago, he has really stepped up to provide visuals that are engaging, emotional, and exciting. Even Leinil Yu’s cover pales in comparison. The question in my mind is whether or not there’s anything at all outside of Fortress X and if Magneto’s keeping the telepaths in the basement to case the illusion that there is. If that’s the case, why the ruse and who’s behind it? Any comic that makes me take wild guesses like these gets an “A” in my book. -JJ
Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: X-Men Legacy #246 gets my pick this week because it’s just plain X-cellent!
Andy: I agree with Jeff- X-Men Legacy #246. It’s proving that alternate universe X-stories can still kick ass.
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