Conrad's brilliant art saves a so-so story...
Marvel's gimmicky "Point One" campaign has been going on for several months and just when you thought it was over, we get X-Men 15.1. Intended to be a good jumping on point for new readers, this Point One doesn't offer much in the way of an introduction to the team. In fact, this issue seems to spotlight the new Ghost Rider far more than the X-Men. But while there might not be much here to entice new readers, I did find it to be a fun little diversion from the longer, weightier X-Men story arcs.
Writer Victor Gischler's story confines the X-Men to merely debating solutions and creating diversions so that Ghost Rider can clean things up. They really don't accomplish much. But there is some good, fun dialogue particularly in the first half of the book and I really liked the Native American setting. The action fires up at the midway point and it's quite entertaining mainly do to the appearance of Ghost Rider. It winds up with a "this is who we are" page which must be meant to satisfy the Point One purposes. While it's a simple and basic story with a few head-scratching moments it's still fun especially during the action sequences.
What really stood out about this issue was the fantastic art. Will Conrad handled the interior art and I was thoroughly impressed by his work. I had no intentions of grabbing this book but after thumbing through it and seeing the art I had to pick it up. Right off I noticed his sharp attention to detail, whether it be in his character depictions or the rich backgrounds. Also his energetic and intense action sequences beautifully flow through some slick, crafty panel layouts. With the exception of Jason Pearson's genuinely unattractive cover, this book looked great.
To my surprise, this was a really fun issue. It's story is a bit hollow and the X-Men are underused. But it's a nice little change of pace for X-Men fans with a cool bonus taste of Ghost Rider. Will Conrad's art is the real reason for getting this book. His work raises the quality of the issue and makes it a satisfying experience. I'm glad I gave it a shot.