The X-Men have a lot of books, there’s no point in denying that fact. What IS up for debate is whether or not they have TOO many, and as long as there’s a consistency to the quality of the books, why not more? Especially with the great spread of A and B-listers across each roster. The only problem might be running out of adjectives, though there actually was an Amazing X-Men series in the 90s that I was unaware of until I wrote this review. Enter Amazing X-Men, which got off to a great start showing us what had become of Kurt Wagner last issue, but now delves deeper into what his father was and is up to and what perils await Nightcrawler’s dearest friends as they find themselves in highly unfamiliar territory. This entire story had the potential to come off as extremely driven by contrivance, particularly with where I’m fairly sure the ending is going, but the details that Jason Aaron adds along with Azazel’s overall scheme that drives the plot actually make the X-Men winding up where they do not only plausible, but downright sensical. Dividing the team is a great way to sow tension and suspense, but dividing it as strategically as he did makes things even better, putting both parts of the team in places where they’d never want to find themselves (yes, even the ones who found themselves in the clouds). It also allows him to give all five members of the team some absolutely amazing character moments in a very short amount of time.
I’ve been a fan of Ed McGuinness since his Emperor Joker days and seeing how his pencils have changed over the years is incredible. From his entertaining but bulbous and samey character designs to these sleek, distinct profiles of his modern titles, McGuinness has not stopped honing his craft and the fact that he now draws some of the most kinetic, animated panels in the industry is a testament to that. You could look at his characters in silhouette and still tell who's who. The amazing Dexter Vines provides inks as he always does: striking, toned and defined, making even incidental characters stand out and backgrounds pop out at the reader. But of course a huge part of that pop can be attributed to Marte Garcia’s colors, that compliment the pencils and inks amazingly, highlighting the cartoonish style with an extremely exaggerated palette.
A lot of this issue is taken up with pontificating where the characters are, despite the reader knowing without a doubt the answer to those questions. There’s a very fine line between creating suspense through something characters don’t know that the readers do and spinning your wheels. These are people who’ve been some very strange places, many of them spiritual and magic-based, so the notion that it would take THIS long for them to figure it out, or be as skeptical as they are, is sort of laughable. The ponderous narration also bogs things down more than it adds to them.
This book is still an awful lot of fun and definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously. Which is good, because it’s about a bunch of superpowered mutants wearing leather and spandex searching the afterlife for their dearly departed friend while battling air pirates. So, you know, be ready to smile more than think. And after how heavy the last few months have been for the X-Men, I’m ready to kick back and have some fun. We even get a glimpse of another character's