By: Victor Gischler (writer), Paco Medina (pencils), Juan Vlasco (inks), Marte Gracia (colors), Clayton Cowles (letters) & Axel Alonso (editor)
The Story: An aftermath of sorts to the battle between the X-Men and the vampires.
What’s Good: Lots of good Cyclops stuff in this issue. One of the biggest changes from the X-Men of my youth is the transformation of Cyclops from nerdy, goodie-two-shoes to a much more interesting character. Of course, he didn’t make that transformation just in this story arc in X-Men, but it is clear the Gischler “gets” the new Cyclops and enjoys writing him. In some ways, Cyclops is almost becoming like Batman in that he’s planned for everything and nowhere is that more apparent than in his showdown with Dracula towards the climax of this issue.
I also really like what Gischler has done with Jubilee. If you pay attention to solicits of future issues, you know that there is going to be a Wolverine and Jubilee miniseries. One of the sad things about Wolverine is that he is somewhat immortal and will outlive all his friends from the X-Men. He’s always had a special relationship with Jubilee and now that she’s an immortal Vampire, perhaps he has a friend to hang out with. Hopefully this will be explored in the miniseries.
What’s Not So Good: A lot of minor problems all pile up to leave a negative taste in my mouth after this issue. For one thing, I am continually annoyed at Marvel’s refusal to get the X-books on the same page from a continuity standpoint. The books have so little to do with each other that they could just be elseworlds tales at this point. I’ve heard all the arguments that this battle with the vampires would have happened one week and the quarantine going on in Uncanny X-Men could have happened another day, and the battle with Apocalypse in Uncanny X-Force could have happened another day and the trip by Wolverine and Cyclops to Japan in Generation Hope could have happened still some other time, but in my mind that only holds together if those books all at least make reference to events from the other books. These guys need more writers summits and a stronger editorial presence.
This story arc was also just too long at 6 issues. This should have been a 3-4 issue story and this final issue which dealt more with the aftermath of the battle and vampire politics could have been skipped entirely.
Why do Wolverine and Cyclops have to be the stars of almost every X-book? I do appreciate that they are the most popular characters, but with the abundance of X-books on the shelf, why can’t this title show us something different than what we get Uncanny X-Men? And, if you’re going to feature Wolverine as one of the stars of the story, you have to write him a little better. At the end of the issue where Blade kinda wants to kill vampire Jubilee and Wolverine intervenes he actually yells, “I dare you!” It is completely nit picking, but wouldn’t he normally yell, “Go for it, bub, and you’ll see what happens!” or something like that?
Finally, I hate to call the art in this issue “bad”, but it was just not as crisp as earlier issues. The layouts and general storytelling were just fine, but besides a few images of Jubliee that I thought were really nice, I was underwhelmed. I guess the artwork would best be called “average”, but it’s getting lumped down here with the negative aspects of this issue because of the negative mood this issue put me into.
Conclusion: Not terrible by any stretch, but the X-franchise is so bloated that Marvel should only be launching new titles if they have stories that they just don’t have time for in Uncanny X-Men or Legacy. This story was fine, but nothing special and there’s no reason at all it couldn’t have been the next story arc in Uncanny or Legacy. Time to cut down the number of titles to 2-3.