A new squad of X-Men faces a whole new challenge in the form of a nanite infused Lady Deathstrike and a newly employed Typhoid Mary. When the two of them meet up with a newly depowered Enchantress, they form one of the more fascinating villain teams, and one of the more organic, in order to search for Arkea, the sister of John Sublime who does to machines what he does to people. Brian Wood’s not done with the shakeups, though, as we met the mutant team’s newest member: the newly freelancing Monet of X-Factor fame (or, if you want to go with her extraordinarily S.E.O. unfriendly codename: “M”), and this is a development I absolutely love. I was incredibly disappointed to see her not on the roster of All-New X-Factor, but if she lands in this title, I’ll consider it a lateral move. There are also some intriguing developments with Jubilee, specifically regarding a recently outed student. And no, not outed as a mutant. This scene actually contains some of my favorite dialog as she laments how the school is supposed to be open and accepting but somehow her sexuality makes her a freak. It’s a great example of how persecuted people aren’t always welcoming of others by default.
The Dodsons handle the artistic duties as far as linework goes and they bring their trademark cartoonish, yet very detailed and especially expressive, work. I had high, high hopes for these two when they were announced on this book and so far, they’ve been absolutely stellar. Jason Keith handles colors, and compliments them amazingly, but not in the way their style usually works. Flamboyant, bombastic colors are usually the order of the day, but Keith’s are actually rather subdued and mellow, which fits the tone and tenor of this book very well as a great many of the scenes are either at night or dialog-heavy. The form and function work well, generally.
As great as the art is, there are a few times when it stumbles. Lines will be ill-defined, character faces will look flat or colors just won’t quite pop. These are extremely few and far between, but worth mentioning. There’s also a part, when Deathstrike and Mary meet up with Enchantress for the first time, that she mentions she’s been trapped under an isolating dome by Odin, which the interlopers’ plane breached. She mentions that she hadn’t been able to break it, and while I get that she’s depowered, that still seems like somewhat lackluster security for such a dangerous villain. Also, unless it happened before the rise of Asgardia, which I don’t believe it could have, it should have been Gaea who banished her, but now I’m just nitpicking.
This is still one of the breakout hits of Marvel NOW and with good reason. The characters are interesting and interact with one another in interesting ways, and the best part is how organically the team is coming together. On both sides, for that matter. They both feel like the teams are cohering in realistic, natural ways. I haven’t even mentioned Psylocke’s entire storyline, which actually takes up most of the issue, but it’s absolutely amazing and I’m thrilled to see that character get a new lease on comic life. This storyline is a good, slow boil that can still be jumped on before it kicks off, and I recommend that course of action.