7.31.2013

X-Men #3 [The Wood Pile]


X-Men #3 (Marvel): I had the chance to chat briefly with artist Olivier Coipel at SDCC this year. Now, Coipel doesn’t know who the heck I am, so I just asked him point blank: “What’s it like working with Brian Wood?” He instantly beamed, explaining how Brian is very much an artist’s artist (err, artist’s writer?) in that he’s always careful to provide plenty of reference to the artist in his scripts. He never just drops an artist cold into the work. I’d imagine that’s pretty helpful given the noticeable effort to make this a more global action book. Wood has explained before how he’s grown tired of books from a strictly American POV (for example, The Massive after spending so much time deep in American politics with DMZ), so the globetrotting flair for this dust-up with Arkea, from sly mentions of Mutant Mossad Agent Sabra to the landing at an airport in Budapest, is a nice result. I seemed to be very conscious of color in this issue. On the very first page, the sheen on Jubilee and Rachel’s faces, in particular, looked downright lifelike thanks to Laura Martin. It lends a certain realistic urgency to the story that would otherwise be lacking with more garish "cartoony" coloring. Later, I absolutely loved the visual style of Hellion, especially his uniform design, and the color display when he was using his powers. Essentially, Arkea is trying to build an army she can control, utilizing the latest advancements in neuro-prosthetics, emphasizing the kind of future forward technology you should be dealing with in an X-Men book. The core team lead by Storm is off dealing with that, while Kitty stays back at the school to deal with another situation. The scariest part of Kitty’s challenge, aided by the subtle humor of Bling, glad-to-see-her-again Pixie, and the aforementioned Hellion, et al, is that they’re dealing with some type of Trojan Horse style bomb, the effects of which can’t be immediately seen with the naked eye, almost like some sort of EMP. One of the things I guess I do when I’m bored at work(?) is look up random stuff and I decided to Google the name of Jubilee’s baby “Shogo” to see if I found anything interesting. The Japanese translation is “one’s ministry,” it’s also the name of the front man of a Japanese rock group, as well as a video game, and infers upon the child that they can be “spiritually intense,” and can either “sting or charm.” FWIW. This issue is really packed with good stuff. I like how Betsy just has Arkea point blank, with yet another slick aesthetic manifestation of her telekinetic powers. That leads to a cutaway from the action that has a very cinematic flair to it and requires that the reader provide some closure. Ultimately, we get to an(other) interesting place with Storm. In Brian Wood and David Lopez’s (who’s coming on for the next arc) previous X-Men run, we saw Storm making command decisions that were at times at odds with people like Scott Summers and Colossus. Here we see some tension brewing with Rachel, which Rogue asks her about in the epilogue scene. I don’t necessarily think this is a major plot point or anything, but I find it fascinating that Wood continues to include small philosophical skirmishes like this as evidence of the general trials of leadership. In my experience, good leaders are decision-makers who rarely make easy, quick, or popular decisions that end up pleasing everyone. At the end of the day, Brian Wood’s X-Men is full of intelligence, daring action, and interpersonal dynamics, which is essentially the perfect trifecta of what any X-Men comic should be. Grade A+.

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