This little arc solidified my theory that Greg Pak should be writing a regular X-Men series. In fact, I’d say throw Mike McKone and Pak on Uncanny X-Men, and I would be a happy man.
This has been a stronger-than-expected storyline, dealing with Cyclops as a central character, the multiverse, and an ethical dilemma. Cyclops has appeared to be written very one-dimensionally lately in the X-canon, and I’ve given plenty of grief online explaining why he is not among my favorite characters. However, I really want him to be, and this story arc helped. Cyclops being the leader/general/savior of mutant-kind is not bad, so long as he’s not written to be barking orders all the time or fretting over the state of the world of mutants. Instead, Cyclops has needed a real dilemma to find himself in, and this story created one. Should he save one world of humans or a multiverse of mutants? Pak brilliantly and satisfyingly pushes this to it’s inevitable limit in this issue. The answer is both, because that’s who Cyclops is. While he may be portrayed as leaning more towards the Magneto-end of the spectrum, we have to remember that he was formed into the leader he is by Charles Xavier, who always had saving humanity and mutant-kind at the forefront of his actions. Pak allows Cyclops to show he is more balanced that he has appeared, choosing to attempt to save the alternate planet he’s on, as well as putting an end to the villainous Savior’s plan of powering the planet with mutants from across the multiverse.
Pak also succeeds in creating a nifty cast of alternate X-Men, whom I wouldn’t mind visiting from time to time. In this issue, some of the alternates get to meet their 616 counterparts, which make for some interesting and amusing conversations. Once again, like Remender did in Uncanny X-Force, another alternate Nightcrawler proves to be a welcome addition to a book.
Mike McKone excels on this book and if possible, only got better as the issues continued. His style of work is matched perfectly to a book like this, and his experience of doing alternate X-Men shines. The cover is a perfect example, highlighting both teams of X-Men from parallel dimensions, while centering on a divided image of Storm. The bridges regular superhero cartooning with realism. In faces like James Howlett’s, you can see a real sense of emotion.
This was a good run on Astonishing and one that has been needed for quite some time. Here’s hoping Marjorie Liu can take the baton and make this a must-read series again. –JJ
Cover: 8/10 Writing: 7.5/10 Art: 8/10 Relevance: 8/1
Ultimate Comics X-Men #8
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Carlo Barberi
I may be in the minority, but I’m just not on the Nick Spencer kool-aid, and this series is only helping to reinforce that. In fact, if you were to slap spandex on the cast of Morning Glories, these two titles would perfectly mirror each other in the “I don’t get what the hell is going on or why it’s happening” category. When this title was announced, the concept of having two separate Ultimate X-teams sounded cool. When Jean Grey’s team- er, Karen Grant’s team- hooked up with Nick Fury and the Ultimates, that even sounded cool. But the execution has been flawed. Majorly flawed. It’s almost like the creative team on this book is trying too hard to make it something more than it is. How am I supposed to take things seriously in the middle of a fight when our heroes are arguing over such semantics as the definition of a word? And where the hell are Iceman, Human Torch, and Shadowcat? You know, the characters that made Ultimate mutants endearing and enjoyable to read since the end of Ultimatum? Remember how much fun they were in Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man run right before Peter Parker bit the bullet? What happened to that? The incorporation of Val Cooper is the one redeeming quality of this issue. But if a liaison to mutant affairs showing up is the highlight of an issue, the “fail” stamp should be placed soundly on the cover. Oh, it’s worth noting that Xorn and Zorn are also appearing over in the Ultimates series, and Ultimate Omega Red made an appearance in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #7. Both titles are vastly superior to this one. Speaking of Xorn/Zorn- this guy was incredibly confusing to follow when he first appeared in Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run. The retcon on his character that followed only muddied the waters further. Lets hope that the character’s emergence in the Ultimate Universe doesn’t go down the same path… yeah, right. -AL
Cover: 2/10 Writing: 2/10 Art: 6/10 Relevance: N/A
Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: Since I only picked up one book, and it was pretty damn good, I’ll go with Astonishing X-Men #47.
Andy: This one should be obvious- Astonishing!