Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Review of X-Men #8 (Wood/Dodson/Dodson/Keith)

I decided to continue reviewing the - well - one comic book that I'm reading at the moment. Look earlier on my blog if you want to see my review of X-Men 7. It also gives a brief overview about what led to this moment. Briefly, last issue saw the return of Monet St. Croix to the X-Men and an introduction of the new Lady Deathstrike, which is an amalgamation of the old one (Yuriko) and a teenage socialite (Ana Cortes). There was a failed attempt on what she expected to be the Omega Sentinel technology. The "cliffhanger" was Lady Deathstrike discovering Arkea and having hired Typhoid Mary.

Now... Let's get into the current issue.

  • Lady Deathstrike's hired hand Typhoid Mary sets off the security system at the Jean Grey School. Psylocke chases her, but she escapes. If you've been reading this series so far, you can make a really educated guess what Typhoid Mary made off with.  
  • Rachel calls Sublime to tell him the news. He just happens to be at Lady Deathstrike's place. Typhoid Mary arrives with the package. Sublime tries to convince Deathstrike of the danger and inadvertently makes a discovery that gives him hope. Deathstrike demands more info. Sublime refuses. Typhoid Mary doesn't have time for that and does her thing! Now, LD and TM know where the rest of the "package" is!
  •  Sublime is saved by Psylocke, who saw the latter part of the exchange. She has what I consider the best line of the book.
  • LD and TM head to the first part of the package and run into another villainess not typically associated with the X-Franchise. After the awkward confrontation followed by a recognition and a conversation, LD makes her an enticing offer.
  • Jubilee is trying to get Bling! to talk with Storm and Rachel about her problems with Mercury. Bling! has other ideas. Awkward moment made worse by M's timely arrival to announce Jubilee needs to suit up for a mission.
  • Typhoid Mary decides to renegotiate her fee with Lady Deathstrike. LD is agreeable. With three people on their team, she announces that this is the beginning of The Sisterhood.
What I liked:
  • The rapport between Rachel and Psylocke is consistently one of the strongest parts of the book. You can tell they are good friends and at the same time Psylocke is frustrated with her.
  • Storm and Rachel have an exchange that wasn't contentious. Of course, everyone else wasn't there at the time.
  • Wood's not trying to make this Lady Deathstrike like her previous portrayals. Granted, it is only her second issue, but the new LD definitely has her host's brashness.
  • Psylocke's "voice" was consistently awesome and her first line as she spoke to Sublime was gold.
  • Small thing... but I liked how Sublime knew he wasn't alone.
  • Jubilee's dialogue was thankfully more big sisterly in this issue, even during the WTF moment. Jubilee's "not impressed" face was priceless. In this particular scene, I suspect the art told more of the story than the dialogue.
What I didn't like:
  • Typhoid Mary managing to break in and steal something from the Jean Grey School. It seems as problematic as Lady Deathstrike's assistant hacking into their files and no one knowing anything about it. That place and the information on Arkea she got should have been locked up tighter than NORAD. Security - much less at a school that is being attacked every other day - shouldn't be that weak even at night!
  • Too much of this setup relied on coincidences. Sublime just happened to be at Lady Deathstrike's place when Typhoid Mary swiped a piece of his sister? One of the meteor pieces Lady Deathstrike is looking for just happens to be in the same place where Thor imprisoned the Enchantress? The Enchantress just happens to recognize Lady Deathstrike, who is in a new body and wearing facepaint she never wore before?
  • Have Lady Deathstrike and the Enchantress ever been in the same comic book together? (Honestly... I don't know. Hope someone can answer that for me.) And even if so, WHY would the Enchantress just break down and tell her everything? Or Lady Deathstrike sit around and listen? Don't get me wrong; if there is indeed a prior relationship between the two characters, I would LOVE for someone to let me know. It just came across as "We're all villains. Let's hang out and form a partnership."
  • Bling! WTF?! If that was how you asked Mercury out, you deserved to get punched.
Other thoughts:
  • Lady Deathstrike as Yuriko is a martial arts badass... but this one is not. Not only was Sublime able to knock her down and rip the Arkea piece from her, but Typhoid Mary put a sword to her neck and didn't get so much as smacked. Perhaps Cortes is a greater part of her consciousness than we're being led to believe.
  • Honestly, I don't know how Lady Deathstrike thinks a glorified technovirus that will probably take her over is going to give her unimaginable power to make her partner's dreams come true.
  • I don't think Bling! is being straightforward with Jubilee. Why else would the art point out Mercury and Bling! glaring at each other before Bling! makes her WTF move or Mercury's reaction?
  • I seriously hope Jubilee's not taking Shogo on this mission with her. If that is going to be a regular thing, then the X-Men look like fools for not staging an intervention or calling Children's Protective Services. Part of my expectation as a reader is that her return to the X-Men (with baby that she just officially adopted... even though it would have been less hassle if he had been her biological child) would cement her status as Senior X-Man as opposed to the longest fledgling status ever.
I didn't like this issue as much as I did the last one. The reliance on sheer coincidence and complete implausibility in order to push the plot forward really weakens what is the one book I've been looking forward to for the better part of a year. I will acknowledge that a launch delay, a shoehorned and contrived X-Men "event", and a major cast change early in the book completely broke up the flow, but it doesn't encourage me when I have to suspend my belief this far to explain this plot is unfolding.

Don't misunderstand me. I want this book to succeed, not due to the "novelty" of having an all-female team, but because it is the only core X-Men that doesn't have a thing to do with the some old tired Wolverine/Cyclops pissing match that Marvel has been shoving down our throats for the past few years. While I could let some things go (like the pay phone with a "redial" button) in the first arc, the number of "just happeneds" that I had to let go of in this issue alone makes me concerned that it will fail and Marvel will get the wrong message about why.

All the best and Merry Christmas!