REVIEW: X-Men #26

by

Or – “Pink Hotpants And A Bright Yellow Jacket?  How Is That A Costume?”

After her depowerment and a humiliating job leading a lame-duck revival of the New Warriors, Jubilee has had a rough go of it in recent years, tough enough that getting killed and transformed into vampire is actually a step up.  Super-strong, invulnerable, and now just as immortal as the man she clearly has a crush on?  These seem like good things.

Of course, then she went missing…

X-MEN #26
Writer: Victor Gischler
Penciler: Jorge Molina
Inker(s): Jorge Molina w/ Cam Smith
Colorist: Guru EFX
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Editor: Jeanine Schaefer
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, in X-Men:  There was once a school in Westchester, run by a kindly old bald man, that served as a front to teach young superhuman mutants to use their powers.  As the number of mutants increased, so did the number of X-Men, and eventually their numbers swelled to the hundreds.  In the wake of a strange reality-altering crisis, though, the number of still empowered mutants is now roughly a couple hundred.  Cyclops has an island on the West Coast, Wolverine a school in the East.  So, who the heck are the guys in THIS book?

“WAS THAT OUT LOUD?”

I don’t know much about Victor Gischler’s work (though I have figured out that he didn’t play Sidney’s dad or hippie messiah) but I’ve been hearing good things about the post-realignment x-titles, including this one.  We open with a sequence that makes me smile, as Deadpool makes his way through the jungle, narrating his adventures as he goes.  Domino (who is apparently a member of this X-team) confronts him about narrating his life out loud, and he responds (hilariously), “I thought it was up in one of the little boxes.”  They quickly team up to deal with the larger threat (after some misunderstanding) and face down an invading army, while Storm and Jubilee hang out with a vampire named Raizo Kodo, the leader of what seems to be a vampire super-team.  The fighty-fighty commences quickly, switching back and forth between the command center and the field, as familiar faces (Lady Bullseye, the Bruiser from recent issues of Daredevil, 90′s revenant Black Axe, and a redesigned) scorpion crack skulls with vampires-with-gimmicks and Colossus.

SUPER-VAMPIRE BATTLE SQUAD!

There’s a kind of ‘backdoor pilot’ feel to the issue, hearkening back to that late episode of the Brady Bunch where Ken Berry and his family moved in next door, as the vamps (with names like Nighteyes, Quickshot, and Ghost Blade) pretty much job out the villains of the piece.  Colossus and Warpath get about four panels each, and both of them are taken down relatively quickly, while Psylocke doesn’t do much better.  She and Storm are gassed by what seems to be a Kabuki assassin, leaving everything in jeopardy and Raizo himself nearly fatally staked.  As the issue comes to an end, only undead Jubilee is still standing, facing down the baddest of the bad guys with a fangly snarl and a cool one-liner.  I don’t recognize the villain of the piece, though, which undermines the drama a bit, and it doesn’t help that his great triumph in the issue is stabbing a guy whose abilities I ALSO don’t know anything about.  Raizo has a lot of dialogue in this issue to hammer home his immortal and awesome nature, including a Sun Tzu quote that he claims to have originated, giving him and his “The Forgiven” band a very Mary Sue quality.

THE VERDICT: SOMEWHAT UNFOCUSED…

I am absolutely stunned that this book is already up to issue #26, as it seems like half an hour ago that we saw the solicits that said “First New X-Men #1 in twenty years!”  Having enjoyed Uncanny X-Force and Wolverine and The X-Men recently, I admit that there are some strong X-titles out there, but this issue left me ambivalent.  For my money, too much panel time was given to Raizo and his team being “jawsome” while the members of the titular team stood about and did very little.  The team of Colossus and Warpath seems like an intriguing one, but their screen time was pretty much all sizzle and no steak, and while there is cool dialogue (for Deadpool in particular), it isn’t universal, leading an exchange between Jubilee and Storm to have no teeth, you should excuse the expression.  X-Men #26 has no clear mission statement for the team, a huge cast without a scorecard, and feels like the epitome of “middle-chapter”, earning a lukewarm 2 out of 5 stars overall.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆