Wednesday, December 21, 2005

X-MEN #179: an actual comics review

I know that it will come as a surprise to folks who only peek in here occasionally, but I once did read and review comics. Since returning to New York, I haven’t had the finances, or interest for that matter, to keep up with continuing series from any of the major publishers. In the case of X-MEN (and their multiple incarnations and titles) I have not been a reader of any of the “X” books since Peter David was writing X-FORCE about a decade ago. In fact the only Marvel titles I’ve read in the past few years have been those given away at conventions or as part of FREE COMICS DAY.

X-MEN (Vol. 2) #179 is identified by a logo as part of “Decimation” which apparently is the follow-up to the whole HOUSE OF M event. All I know about that particular cross-over is what I’ve been reading online so I was thankful for the opening page “What has gone before…” overview. Seems the heroes forced the deranged Scarlet Witch to return the world to the way it was prior to her revision. At that point however most of the world's mutants lost their powers and abilities.

This issue features also a group of “good” Sentinels, who long time X-fans will recall were originally created to capture or kill any & all mutants, called cleverly on the cover the SENTINEL SQUAD which would no doubt be a great name for a spin-off X-title (if I was of the type to be cynical about that sort of thing). Under the guidance of a group called O.N.E. these particular giant robots are attempting to protect the now more vulnerable mutants, especially those housed in Professor X’s institute. The overview indicates that all this was introduced in the cross-over so regular readers probably won't be as confused as I am.

In typical Marvel fashion stuff gets destroyed, heroes overcome and various sub-plots get moved in glacial fashion, proving to this one time Marvel Zombie that not much as really changed all that much over the past twenty years.

Peter Milligan is a decent writer whose work I’ve enjoyed over the years. However, even with a ‘mysterious’ anti-mutant villain running around in the woods and other characters going off to rediscover their powers there really isn’t anything here to catch my interest.

The art by penciller Salvador Larroca and various inkers is okay, but in close-ups some faces have an unfinished look, almost as if the Larroca left details up to the inkers and they skipped them. I also wonder why it was decided that the titles most popular character, Wolverine (and possibly one of the reasons the X-titles continue to sell so well) is shown almost exclusively from the rear or otherwise facing away. If you weren’t familiar with his costume (and this is the short eared, orange colored one) you’d have no clue who this was. Sadly, most of the characters seem to be posing for action figures or those little mini-busts they push at Diamond and never appear natural. Oh, and could Scott Summer/Cyclop's costume appear more ugly or uncomfortable looking?

A book clearly for the fans, so I’ll give this a pass and two stars.
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