Monday, June 24, 2013

X-Men: Blank Generation (comics)

"With the plane as our decoy,
we can easily escape!"
Writer: Brian Wood
Artists: David Lopez, Roland Boschi
Collects: X-Men #30-35

I tapped out on this book after X-Men: FF. I gave fair marks to the first two volumes, but that was where it became apparent the writer didn't really get the characters he was working with and the art was not on a level that could save the material as in previous volumes. But then Schism happened.

As you can guess, a new writer came on and the book got a new mission statement - our protagonists are now the "Security Team" of Utopia, whatever the hell that's supposed to mean - so, like most of the franchises books, I gave it another shot. I was a little concerned about the concept, but it's pretty clear it's just a name. They're based in a high tech jet, keep a teleporter around and are constantly on the move; they're really more like a first response group.

Right away they're knee deep in some heavy business. Someone managed to dig up some proto-mutant DNA and weaponize it, which naturally pisses off the mutants, since it's a gross misuse of a new discovery that changes everything they thought they knew about their past. Meanwhile Storm ducks and dodges dealing with Cyclops - which I think any of us might if we had to deal with him - and it causes friction on the team because heaven forbid we don't inform our overlord of everything before we even know what we're dealing with.

Even if it hasn't been done in this exact manner, the "Endangered Species" status quo has been going on for so long that it feels like we've seen a concept like this before. The first four issue arc doesn't even have a particularly climatic ending. There's a couple panel airborne fight, then one character crashes into the stronghold and, without spoiling anything, the threat is over within a page and without a fight.

Luckily, the book relies as much on character dynamics as anything else. Storm is the leader of the team, but it's pretty clear just in her actions that she isn't comfortable dealing with Cyclops, much less even being on the side she's found herself*. Colossus, ever the yes man for Cyke of late, obviously has issues with this.

The art for the first four issues, done by David Lopez, is pretty stellar. Plenty of style, a lot of color and clear action. We even manage to go the entire arc without a gratuitous Psylocke ass shot! The one time we see it, it makes sense for the panel and is not at all posed so you get a cheesecakey view of ninja rump. Keep in mind that I have no issues with some cheesecake art, but artists have a nasty habit of going out of their way to show the Queen of Ass Floss Tights "assets".

Then we have a different artist for the last two issues and it's a downgrade, in my opinion. There are fairly good pages in there. On the other hand, some pages and panels in the latter two issues are just downright ugly. On the plus side, the artist is good at panel composition. Two pages in particular, I'm willing to chalk it up to the artists style just not working for me.

Oh, I'd hate to forget to mention the downright awesome covers by Jorge Molina. Some great, great design there.

My Opinion: Try It

A definite improvement over the last volume I read. I'd say it's worth a read, if not something you want to run out and get. If nothing else, the book has the distinction of starring a team mostly comprised of females - who aren't exploited in the art, either - so if that sounds like it's up your alley then give it a look.

* You'll recall that, in the aftermath special for Schism, she wanted nothing to do with Utopia anymore and had every intention of following Wolverine to the new school before Cyclops guilted her into staying.

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