Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Seige: X-Men (comics)

Writers: Daniel Way, Marjorie Liu, Kieron Gillen
Artists: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Niko Henrichon
Collects: Dark Wolverine #82-84, New Mutants #11, Siege: Storming Asgard - Heroes and Villains

So, from the long, not so proud tradition of useless tie-ins comes Siege: X-Men, a volume as pointless as the name is misleading. That whole X-Men thing? Might want to ignore it. This volume has only tangential ties to the X franchise, with only one issue of the four collected having anything to do with them. It should have been labeled a Dark Wolverine volume, but then I doubt anyone would have bought it.

So, three issues of Dark Wolverine in here; this is in some ways my introduction to Wolverines son Daken. Not exactly the best one. The whole of the "story" is that Daken dicks around Asgard for three issues while the siege occurs, occasionally finding some chicks of fate trying to lead him to bringing about Ragnarok. That's pretty much it.

Such could be an interesting story, but here's the thing; absolutely nothing happens in the course of these three issues. Nothing. We just see Daken douching it up, getting blown up occasionally, making team-mates uncomfortable and having occasional visions of the future from the fate chicks that lead nowhere and carry no consequence. This three issue tie-in isn't even an actual story; absolutely nothing of consequence happens, Daken is in the same place he started in at the end - because, you know, any instance where something goes badly for him turns out to be a vision of the possible future - and I couldn't discern any ongoing storyline for the character - other than the fact that he's just a prick and at some point he needs to get his comeuppance - so I don't even think it serves to advance anything at all.

As for Daken himself, I'm not sure what to think of him as a leading man. He is a douchebag of the highest caliber and if he has any redeeming qualities, I sure as hell didn't see them. When friggin Bullseye seems the sanest person around - to the point where he's the only one of the two of them even remotely concerned about the wellfare of the men under their command - something is seriously wrong. There isn't even any personal plot I can see to get attached to; apparently he's positioning everyone for a backstabbing, but other than occasionally mumbling about wanting to be a god we don't get a sense of what he wants to accomplish and how he plans to do it. I'm not adverse to villain centric comics at all, but I at least expect them to have a general idea of where the hell they're going, which this volume gave no indication of.

I'm left completely unsure of whether I even want to give the Dark Wolverine series the most remote of shots in trade. That might seem harsh to some, but consider this. The whole point of a tie-in is not to tell a great story within the framework of an event. That's what we want out of them - and certainly the comic companies would prefer we get them, since it's better for them in the long run - but a tie-in to an ongoing is usually to boost sales. They're hoping that someone, maybe looking for more action related to the ongoing event, will pick up a tie-in to a series they wouldn't spare a glance at otherwise, like what they see, get invested in the characters ongoing plots and stay on board.

As a tie-in, the Dark Wolverine issues fail on even the most basic levels; and it doesn't deliver on any others either. The art is the sole saving grace. As seems usual for me lately, I'm not familiar with Camuncoli, but the work speaks for itself. It's a bit... looser, for lack of a better word, than I'm used to, but the facial expressions are quite nice and some interesting use of panels can be found. This is the only good thing I can say about these issues, other than some decent dialogue and the fact that it's not an unreadable mess.

The only other actual comic collected is the New Mutants issue and it's the only thing in the book with the most remote tie to the X-Men. It doesn't deal with the whole team, though; only Dani Moonstar. It picks up on a plot point from a previous X-Men tale, where Dani made a deal with Hela - of Norse mythologies Hel - to get the power of a Valkyrie for a day, as per Cyclops plan. But bargains with creatures like Hela never come without a price and now the favor is being called in. Amidst the Siege, the fallen cannot move on to their afterlife, so Dani is trusted to be their guide. This doesn't go as planned, because of course Dani would rather save lives first before tending to those already dead.

It's a relatively solid one issue tie - a hell of a lot better than Dark Wolverine - with some really nice art. Niko Henrichon's style seems at home in the sort of granduer of Norse mythology, enough so that I might be interested in seeing it on a Thor book itself. The work seems to lack some heavy inking, which combined with the style gives it an interesting look I'm not sure I've seen too often outside of some work associated with the Fables franchise over at DC's Veritigo imprint.

Still, it's one good issue out of four; and good as it is, it's not worth picking up this volume alone; I'd sooner go out and get the back issue of it and I really don't deal in single issues much.

The only other thing collected is one of those books that gives out bios for important characters in a coming story. Marvel puts these out every once in a while, usually whenever an event is scheduled to hit. I guess they're Marvel's version of Secret Files. An okay read - one that does a fair job of getting you caught up on recent events with the main players - but it's of more use to people who want to read Siege itself. What's it's doing here, I haven't a clue. Best guess is that it was thrown in to pad out the volume, because for an X-Men tie-in volume the X-Men had jack all to do with Siege, so there wasn't much else to collect.

The Score: 5.5 out of 10

Put a wide berth between this volume and you. The only reason I even gave it a score this high is because I liked the New Mutants issue and the art was pretty good. But most of the volume fails as a tie-in, it fails as a story and it fails to do anything. It's not worth getting at all. Save your money and leave this trade on the shelf.

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