Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Advance Review: X-Men #202

X-MEN #202

Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Humberto Ramos

Marvel Comics

Something evil is brewing here. Disparate strands are coming together, in the third part of the Marauders storyline, with the X-Men truly bruised and beaten.

'Or are they?'

But let's backtrack. It's not really the Marauders is it? Marketing has been very fishy into diverting attention from what is really happening right now in the x-titles. It's not -just- the Marauders. It's Mr Sinister and the Marauders, along with Exodus and the Acolytes, along with Mystique and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. It's all three major X-baddies working together 'Secret society' like. On the opposite front, Mike Carey is rolling in all the mutants available in his repertoire, fighting back with Whedon's lost-in-continuity crew, the New X-Men students and whatever remains of his own team after half of them turned coat and the rest just croaked.

Along the way Carey is bringing together elements from every past x-writer's tenure and tying together dangling threads left and right. From Vargas and the Books of Destiny from the ill-conceived (and executed) X-Treme X-Men, Dark Mother from Weinberg's short Cable run, to Ravita Kao from Astonishing, the Dark Beast and the Genoshan labs from Claremont's Excalibur relaunch, the concentration camps from Tieri's Weapon-X, the Black Womb experiments from Nicieza's pocket x-universe, the Mutant designer drugs from Casey's run and so on.
Somehow Carey makes everything fit neatly together and get acknowledged, creating a grand x-tapestry the likes of which we haven't seen since the mid-90s with Scott Lobdell heading the franchise -- during the X-Cutioner's Song, the Phalanx Covenant, the Age of Apocalypse and beyond. (I wonder if we'll also see X-Force/X-Statix somehow fitting into this puzzle)

Plot spoilers/teasers: Cannonball and Iceman are the last surviving members of Carey's team and they're going all macho-hero-guy on the turncoat Sunfire, with Iceman actually being cool instead of play-acting. These two characters work great together as the eternal team-rookies who stick together, picking up their friendship where Lobdell left off 10 years ago. The Big Three baddies reveal their plan and the connection between the recent attacks, at the same time as the remaining X-Men realize the truth. The New X-Men kids with Kitty and Colossus (a nice nod to the Age of Apocalypse's Generation-Next title) fend off an attack on the institute and defend the Books of Destiny, while Emma reveals an ace up her sleeve. Rogue is still comatose, Cable is still dead, and the whole cast is still looking bizarrely angular and attractive thanks to the impossible anatomies that only Humberto Ramos can pull through.

In the back-up feature, the two Beasts compare notes, 'our' Beast gets his hands dirty and some intriguing discoveries concerning the M-Day situation see the light. Endangered Species has been non-stop fun, and the best model for how weekly comics should be. Each installment is sufficiently self-contained, each 8-pager following the central character into a different corner of the X-verse, yet still carrying forward the overall plot. There's more stuff advancing the plot in a single weekly 8-page installment of this, than a whole month's worth of Countdown comics.

Maybe we can look forward to an actual weekly X-verse title in the future, in the same vein?

Grade: 7.5/10

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