Writer: Brian Wood
Artists: Kris Anka & Clay Mann (pp. 16-20)
Colorist: Jason Keith & Paul Mount (pp. 16-20)
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Review by Joey Braccino
The X-Men pursue Lady Deathstrike’s Arkea’s Sisterhood across the globe! Pixie and Rockslide take a spacewalk! Rachel Grey has a heart-to-head with John Sublime! Monet seeks vengeance!
X-Men #10.NOW is billed as the ideal jumping-on point for new readers—a first chapter in a “brand-new” storyline in Brian Wood’s well-received, refreshingly female-led X-Men series.
Unfortunately, this series has yet to find its footing since being swept up in the Battle of the Atom crossover this past Fall, and this All-New Marvel-Now-ification seems to have derailed any momentum Brian Wood and Terry Dodson built over the last 3 issues of the “Muertas” arc.
The plot run-down at the head of this review pretty much covers the story in X-Men #10.NOW. The Pixie/Rockslide stuff is… interesting, but Rockslide’s voice is completely off-character. I mean, the character’s a walking “rocks-for-brains” punchline, so his uncanny insistence on avoiding contractions in this issue is confounding to say the least. There is some action in the final pages of the issue—featuring some stellar, albeit jarringly different, Clay Mann pencils—in which Jubilee and some of the students battle the sentinels teased in last month’s cliffhanger, but the sequence seems like an afterthought, an attempt to blow some stuff up to entice readers to come back. Meanwhile, long-time readers of the series will notice that, for the most part, not only is this issue a retread of previous issues and story beats with little to no forward momentum, but Wood’s handling of his characters and pacing is off throughout. Would Storm really use “freak show” as an adjective? Revelations about Arkea’s control and Monet’s “death” are rushed or unfounded.
Ironically, the one real success in the issue is the first two pages of exposition, intended to recap the “Muertas” arc for new readers.
Kris Anka takes over art duties for the majority of the issue before handing the action-packed “epilogue” to Clay Mann. Earlier reports suggested that the entire “Muertas” arc would run for 6 issues and feature Terry Dodson’s pencils, but Kris Anka is now credited for the next three parts. This isn’t necessarily a bad change; Anka’s dynamic realism and engaging perspective are in the same vein as Dodson’s, but this issue seems… rushed. Perhaps it was due to changes for NOW, but there are several issues—incomplete faces, misplaced word balloons, etc.—that distract from the quality I’ve come to expect from the series. Not to mention of course the fact that Mann comes in for the last 4 pages without warning, and you’ve got an unfortunately inconsistent reading experience. At least Jason Keith and Paul Mount do some stellar work on the colors, accentuating the better parts of their respective pencilers.
Though it pains me to say it, skip it. Even as a long-time reader of the series, I didn’t really get anything from reading X-Men #10.NOW other than wonky characterization and befuddled feelings. I can’t even really tell what new readers would take away from this book; the Arkea concept and the intense inter-character connections are far too complex to wade through in a single issue. Apparently, the Marvel NOW concept can’t turn everything to gold, as I’m starting to wonder if Brian Wood’s X-Men will ever be able to reach its original buzz and potential…