By: Chuck Kim (writer), Chris Bachalo (pencils), Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza, Wayne Faucher, Al Vey, Victor Olazaba, Mark Irwin & Bachalo (inks), Antonio Fabela & Bachalo (colors) & Joe Caramanga (letters)

The Story: Storm and Gambit try to break into Vampire Island to steal the body of Dracula.

What’s Good: If you’ve followed the X-Men for any length of time, you’ve been burned by these one-shot/miniseries that tie into whatever event or status quo is going on in the main X-books.  Sometimes these one-shots are just complete crap, but I tend to buy them because I hope I’ll get what this issue had.

Considering this issue stars two of my least favorite X-Men (Storm and Gambit), it is (surprisingly) a lot of fun as they make their way through Vampire Island to steal Dracula’s body.  Both are a little out of sorts because they end up relying on their thief-skills rather than their mutant powers and that was a nice change-up because we’ve all seen plenty of Storm zapping things from on high or Gambit slinging glowing purple objects around.

It also had some good guest starring roles for Emma, Dazzler & Northstar.  I love the way some writers just seem to really enjoy writing Emma and her snarky attitude.

Of course, backing this all up is art by Chris Bachalo (who is one of my favorite artists).  There are a few issues with it that I’ll discuss below, but also a few panels/pages that just sing and demand that you linger before turning the page.

What’s Not So Good: 7 inkers?  2 Colorists?  Really?  I always find that slightly annoying but in this case it bugs me more because there are a few places where the inker kinda messed by some art that I really wanted to see.  Overall it is a better effort than you usually see with 7 inkers (I was thinking 3-4 as I read the book), but it still leads to some pages being not so great, but then they are followed by something that is breathtaking.

And why can’t the vampires just bite someone?  They seem very adept at catching heroes and holding them down as 20 vampires hover over them with fangs flashing, but for some reason…no one ever gets bitten.  How long does it take to bite something that is being held down?  Just do it!

I also wish the X-editors would step up and decide where Storm stands on killing.  A few issues ago at the end of Second Coming she basically told Logan that they couldn’t be friends any more because of X-Force.  Now she’s invading the Vampire lair with a heap of wooden stakes while moralizing about how she-never-used-to-kill-but-now-she’s-changed.  I don’t blame writer Kim who hasn’t written a lot of X-material ever.  The editors really need to help out and decide whether Storm is a high-minded character who hates killing (in which case…. go back to Wakanda) or whether she is going to stake vampires.  Are there X-fans who really enjoy hearing Storm’s moralizing about the taking of human life?  Please let me know in the comments section!

Conclusion: Surprisingly good story that adds meat to the Curse of the Vampires story.  Great Bachalo art that is messed up by the inkers in a few places.

Grade: B

– Dean Stell