Doug Ramsey’s often been the punchline of a lot of X-Men jokes (okay, old Twisted Toyfair Theater jokes...I think once or twice on Robot Chicken too) and rightly so. When stacked up against reality manipulation, psychic abilities or regeneration, the ability to speak any language, while being VERY real-world practical, doesn’t stack up in a world where you’re going into battle. His power set’s received a few tweaks over the years and what constitutes a “language” expanded, but he’s still always had a fragility problem. Which is why the book with him having killed most of the X-Men and seemingly decimated the world, it’s definitely a face full of ice water. It turns out to be a dream, of course, and Doug wanders out of bed to commit suicide, preventing the eventuality. But the members of Serval Industries have other plans for him. Peter David does for Ramsey what he did for Gambit with the same amazing economy: makes the reader not only instantly care about him, but gives him a depth of character that hadn’t always been fully established. He also writes some absolutely biting, chilling dialog between Angela Snow and Snow’s secretary Linda (with whom he is having an affair). The reveal of what Magus is up to and why he and Warlock have seemingly reconciled is absolutely stellar both for its character-sense and its ability to generate absolutely absurd humorous moments.
Carmine Di Giandomenico’s linework continues to be incredibly expressive, particularly with the two mechanical characters of this story. Seeing his ultra-nuanced facial features rendered on beings that are sometimes only represented by a massive face is something I never knew I missed. The other characters are, as always, fantastically expressive. Lee Loughridge’s subtle, but never boring, colors do their part in rendering the crisp, distinct visuals. The color profile of this book has always been well defined, and it often seems to be viewed through a filter, and that’s part of what makes the tone so strong.
If you don’t know who Doug Ramsey, Magus or Warlock are, you are going to be LOOOOOOOOST. The recap does a good job of establishing the bare bones of the three of their relationships, but very little to define who the characters are on their own and there isn’t a whole lot of exposition to explain either. A good place to start would be the most recent New Mutants series, if you’d like to know more.
It would appear the roster has filled up by issue’s end, and what a strange and wonderful cast of characters it has turned out to be! And much to my delight, this issue continues the mini-arc precedent set in the first four, making this a series of somewhat self-contained stories rather than one larger overarching one. I feel like the team we’ve got have been excellently established across the last six issues and we now know what we’re working with. I cannot WAIT to see what the assembled team’s first assignment is.