by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer
Written by Brian Wood, Art by Kris Anka & Clay Mann
Published: May 2014
I have written over 250 reviews and for some reason the joke I am about to make seems vaguely familiar, so apologies if I have made it before, but it fits very well here. This is a Marvel Comic. Check. My favourite series, X-Men. Check. All the heroes and villains are women. Double Check. The art is done by someone who I know and appreciate. Check. Therefore this comic must be awesome?
Well, no, unfortunately not.
Parts of this comic are fantastic; Monet is starting to become an all time favourite character because she definitely gets all the best lines. The villains in this story with the exception of Arkea are all fascinating and fortunately given the circumstances of this comic are going to outlive it to fight another day. In fact I like all the characters that appear in this comic, so why then am I so disappointed?
This is going to take some explanation, so apologies, but bear with me. This is issue #12 of this series and there has been a really solid story arc in here, but due to other circumstances it has been butchered, pulled apart and stretched out beyond its original intention. Has anyone thought about the original Star Wars films, how they blow up a Death Star in the first film and then do it all over again in the third one? Well having read a lot of books on the history of that film it turns out that the Death Star should not have exploded in the first film at all, it was always designed to carry on to Return (Revenge) of the Jedi, but because they really needed to sell that film as it was an unknown quantity they had to steal the climax from the third film. I have always thought it made Return of the Jedi fell rather redundant, even if you forgive them for the Ewoks.
Exactly the same thing happened here; they launched this series and had 3 issues before Battle of the Atom kicked off so they had to quickly wrap it up, wait for 2 issues and then start all over again. The problem was that clearly they had a 6 issue story to tell. So issues 1 and 2 were as they wanted, issue 3 stole half the good stuff from the end. Issues 4 and 5 were the crossover which left them with 7 books still to fill. So we started all over again, broke Arkea out so they could kill her for good this time. That has left the last two issues with a lot of free space meaning that they have had to run a back up series alongside it, which has been fine, but what can you really do with 12 pages of comic beyond just filling space?
The whole premise of this storyline makes very little sense. Arkea is basically an immortal computer programme able to self replicate and grow like a virus infecting human hosts as well as machines. They built her up and up and up like some enormously terrifying creature and then took her down like she was Stilt-Man. They do not even have to make the ‘difficult’ moral choice of killing the host as well as the infection; they come up with a macguffin that can mysteriously save the host. It is fine if the host is Storm and they have to find a way of uninfecting her so she can be around next week, but for a completely unheard of person who is not vital to any story it just feels really weak.
All of this is not the writers fault, personally I blame Marvel and their timing with creating a new series which suddenly gets crammed into a crossover as soon as it is created. If they were going to do that they should have had a completely throwaway couple of issues to bond the team a bit before Battle of the Atom, or even used them as a build up to it. Once that was over they could have run this storyline uninterrupted as a really solid 6 issue arc. The story inside these 10 issues is really good, especially since they explained away the nonsense that was the creation of Lady Deathstrike and resolved it in really dramatic style; the problem is that there is not enough for 10 issues.
This is the X-Men core book, it sold over 120,000 copies for number one, but the previous issue only managed 47,000 and it has dropped way below All-New X-Men and Uncanny-X-Men both of which have been running at least 6 months longer. It is even lower than Amazing X-Men but that is dropping like a stone so it hardly counts, but as soon as the numbers for Wolverine and the X-Men hit this will be the 5 ranked X-Men team book*. The problem is this does not feel like the core X-Men book and it is selling like an also ran. What is its big draw? It is an all female team. I said it when it first came out, that is not a draw, it is a gimmick and with the big names off running their own comics, this is a team of solid characters, but no super stars and I do not think it will last much beyond 18 issues now.
* If you include non-team books it ranks below Wolverine, Origins II and only beat X-Force by about 500 issues meaning that it is the 7th best selling X-title currently and in a couple of months at this rate, it will be below Deadpool as well.