John Sublime’s similarly-but-differently-powered sister Arkea was far from finished after the first arc in this series and this issue sees her triumphant, if slightly unexpected, return to corporeal form. With a newly repowered Enchantress and fully upgraded Deathstrike and Typhoid Mary, the odds are a little more even in the Sisterhood’s favor, but Monet still has a card or two up her sleeve and there are a couple of obscure allies joining the fray. Brian Wood splits time and focus between the two main factions, but has time to toss in a few characters on the side as well, resulting in a book that is long on content, but never loses track of each character’s individual voice and actually has surprisingly little exposition and even a fair amount of action. I especially like the interaction that Deathstrike has with Arkea, explaining why, despite their upgrades, one X-Man (Monet) is likely more than enough to ruin them. Arkea’s solution is...definitely a new spin on an old classic.
Terry and Rachel Dodson return on pencils and inks and continue to bring their dark, cartoonish style to this story and, as has been true in the past, it works wonders. This isn’t a whimsical issue, though there certainly are touches of whimsy, but the Dodsons’ style is very adaptable to situations requiring either joy or sorrow, conversation or action and this issue highlights that ESPECIALLY. From the Sisterhood’s plotting and dealing to Monet’s explosive entrance, most every panel is beautifully, clearly and sharply realized with, surprisingly, three colorists: Jason Keith, Nolan Woodard, and Andres Mossa.
As much and as well as Wood keeps his character’s distinct personalities and voices clear, this is an issue with far too much going on inside of it. Between Rachel Grey interrogating John Sublime, Storm and Psylocke meeting up with Gabriel Shepherd and Sabra, Jubilee and Karima run tactical support (inhaaaaaaaaaaale) with the Sisterhood and Monet meeting across the world, it feels like (even when certain groups join up) that no one gets full focus, causing the issue to feel fragmented. And as great as the art is, two or three panels have very awkward faces, two of which caused me to lose track of who was which character.
There’s so much to love about this comic, that the few flaws are, by no means, dealbreakers. This is actually a surprisingly original and unique idea for a storyline using a great many underappreciated, underrepresented characters, giving the book its own distinct feel despite being still another X-Men title. Standing out for so many reasons in such a deep, wide field is admirable enough, but standing out while telling a story this interesting and new deserves very special mention and these visuals are still as easy on the eyes as they ever were, while containing enough strength to practically burst through the panels.