Marc Guggenheim (Writer), Yanick Paquette (Pencils), Rob Schwager (Colorist), Ray Snyder, and Kris Justice (Inkers)

Young X-Men is another series that is on notice. I was pretty excited about the potential for the series when I first heard about it, but I have found myself let down with this first arc. It has some interesting pieces, and, for the most part, I like the cast, but it feels as though both the writing and artwork are coming up a bit short. Young X-Men #3 is hardly a break from the norm, but like the latest issue of Cable, I find that improvements have been made.

With this issue, we bear witness to the chaos that is the team’s first mission. Ink has proven himself a traitor in knocking out Blindfold and, oddly enough, Dani Moonstar. Rockslide, Wolf Cub, and Dust have their hands full in a battle with Magma that pretty much levels a city block and leaves a team member in critical condition. The “new” Brotherhood of Evil mutants, as dubbed by the increasingly suspicious Cyclops, learns of this new team of X-Men. On top of all that, Cyclops is being watched by a mysterious new mutant who I honestly don’t recognize (if he is someone familiar, please fill me in). In short, things are a mess for this team. Ironically, this mess is a good thing for the book because I am actually curious to see where the team goes from here after the disastrous mission is completed.

The writingis a definite step up from the previous as the team begins to gel and characters are given some much needed definition. Wolf Cub and Rockslide in particular are given a nice bit of depth, though recent turncoat Ink comes across as a tired, “in it only for himself” cliché. Another thing worth mentioning is the creative use of mutant powers during the Magma battle that left me pretty impressed. Finally, I appreciated the sense of tension felt throughout the book. I wouldn’t be shocked if it turns out that things aren’t quite what they seem at all. If Guggenheim can bring together the various elements of this book into a solid conclusion, this series could have a bright future.

I think my biggest issue with this series so far is the artwork. While it’s slowly become more consistent overall, things are still a mess. Facial expressions look quite silly, environments are either boring or sloppy, characters are inconsistently drawn (especially Wolf Cub), and I am pretty convinced the team is more concerned with a gratuitous body shots over the best angle to convey the action. I realize sex sells, but it gets a bit ridiculous at times. Also, there is one section of the book near the end that feels wildly out of place as both the characters and colors look as though they were taken from an entirely different book. I know I keep piling on the negatives, but it is not all bad. The action does have a fairly nice flow when it kicks into high gear and the use of shadow helps to further the ominous tone. Still, I can’t help but feel that I would enjoy the book quite a bit more if the artwork was more attractive.

Young X-Men has taken a step in the right direction, now I just hope that things continue this way. I want to really like this book and it is improving, but it still has a ways to go before I can whole heartedly recommend it to anyone other than those that started with the series’ debut. (Grade C-)

-Kyle Posluszny