By Marc Guggenheim, (Writer) Yanick Paquette, (Pencils) Ray Snyder, (Inks) and Rob Schwager (Colors)

Since it launched, I have been fairly critical of Young X-Men. The writing has been hit or miss, the art has been either sloppy or inconsistent (or both), and the overall plot has felt somewhat disjointed. While all of those criticisms can be applied to Young X-Men #4 (to some degree), I found myself enjoying the book much more than those that came before it.

To be honest, not a whole lot happens in this issue. Ink gets some new tattoos (resulting in more powers) and Cyclops preps the team for an assault on the New Brotherhood.  As the attack begins, Cyclops is ambushed by the mysterious character that’s been stalking him since last issue. While the execution of the story isn’t particularly compelling, the cliffhanger left me wanting more. Maybe my expectations have been lowered a bit thanks to three disappointing issues in a row, but this one worked well enough.

Marc Guggenheim’s writing continues to be hit or miss for me, but his story is finally coming together. The plot twist in this issue gives the story some much needed focus and I’m confident that the conclusion of this arc will provide a decent pay off. Also, the dialogue here is much improved over previous issues, though it still has faults. Some of it is a bit melodramatic at times and the occasional attempts at humor fall flat or come across as annoying. The most surprising thing about the issue, other than the plot twist of course, is how well written the mysterious figure is. Guggenheim writes him in an effectively cryptic and threatening manner that brings a lot to the story.

While I am personally not a fan of the art style featured in this book, the visuals are significantly better than last issue. The characters look much more consistent, there is more detail in everything, the colors are well done, and the action has a nice direction to it. Worth mentioning also is a very nice looking splash page that kicks off the attack on the Hellfire Club.

Young X-Men got off to a rough start, but if the conclusion of the first arc in the next issue pays off as it should, this series could finally begin to live up to its potential. (Grade: C)

– Kyle Posluszny