Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Comic Review -- X-Men #28 / Victor Gischler, Will Conrad, Guru eFX

While I'm these days more than a little sick of Skrull covers, I will say that this is one gorgeous cover.  Of course, I'm also probably a little biased in favor of just about anything Will Conrad does.  The dark tones and foreboding leers of the Skrullified X-Men makes even the presumably light-hearted presence of Spider-Man take on an air of intensity and desperation.  Very well done.

We start off with Pixie teleporting a man into the Baxter Building to steal something from the Fantastic Four, because of a bluff he told her that they have Franklin Richards held hostage.  The Fantastic Four quickly subdue him, and the X-Men show up to take Pixie and the Skrull away, after pointing out that the Skrulls are accomplished shapeshifters and never had Franklin.  They go to Horizon Labs, looking for something in their equipment, when Pixie figures out that the "X-Men" she's with are the same Skrulls who sent her to the Baxter Building in the first place.

After they subdue and gag Pixie, we find out that these Skrulls are soldiers from the Secret Invasion, trapped behind enemy lines after the war was over.  They're looking for a way home, and are raiding high-tech facilities looking for a captured Skrull ship so they can do so.  Horizon Labs, however, is the second home and workplace of Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man, and he happens to see what's going on and surprises the thieves.  The fight moves to the sidewalk outside of Horizon, where one of the Skrulls activates their ship--a War-Bringer, a ship of destruction.  As the Fantastic Four and X-Men arrive on the scene, Pixie, Spider-Man, and three of the Skrulls look on in horror as a drone marches out of the ship, intent on destruction.

This is my first real exposure to the character of Pixie, and since we've just seen Jubilee's departure from the X-Men for at least a little while, it's hard to avoid the feeling that the writers just can't bear the thought of not having a young inexperienced team member for the others to watch over.  Pixie certainly fills that role in this story, berating herself for making a series of presumably rookie mistakes in front of her "teammates" and several other superheroes.  Still, it's understandable that she'd be deceived by experienced Skrull soldiers desperate to get home--deception is what they're good at, after all.

I also like the use of guest stars in this issue, as it fits well with the plot.  The Baxter Building and Horizon Labs are logical-sounding locations to house Skrull equipment, and make the FF and Spidey's appearances credible and relevant.  Being a Spider-Man fan, I wish he'd been used a little more, but it looks like he'll get more mileage in the next part of the story.  Everyone's characterization is spot-on when given the opportunity, from Spidey's quips to Reed and Susan and Ben's dialog and reactions.

Art-wise, I can't help but enjoy Will Conrad's work.  It's realistic and distinctive, and he seems to instinctively know the most recognizable look for each character and delivers it in a consistent, beautiful package with each illustration.  I remember once saying that if I could draw like anyone, it'd be Jim Lee.  I'd say if anyone else could share the stage with him, it would be Mr. Conrad.  Everyone and everything in this issue just looks fantastic.

Overall, I'd say this makes for an interesting start to a multi-part storyline that has plenty of promise.  The setup is amusing and intriguing, the art is fantastic, and the resolution is one I actually care about and want to see in the next issue.  Highly recommended.

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