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A+X #4 – Review

A+X #4

By: Kaare Andrews, Jason Latour (Writers), Kaare Andrews, David López (Artists), Lee Loughridge, Jim Charalampiois (Colorists), Alvard López (Inker), Clayton Cowles (Letterer) 

The Review: I think it’s safe to say that nobody expected A+X to be quite this good. A quick look at the reviews for the last three issues show that nearly every major comic review website (ours included) has been mighty impressed with the consistently high levels of quality and effort found in each episode. In an era of ‘event fatigue’ and dubious reboots, this series’ amiable modus operandi is refreshing: one X-Man teamed with one Avenger. Them’s the rules, and aside from that anything goes.

This issue could be said to embody that freewheeling spirit more than any other so far; it’s leaking crazy like a broken faucet in Arkham Asylum. Ready the sedatives and wheel out the gurney, this patient ain’t going down without a fight:

The Beast + The Amazing Spider-Man: A classic pairing kicks things off with two of comics’ favourite Science-nerds-turned-Super-bros getting their Planet of The Apes on. Except monkeys are so 2012…more a case of “Get those stinking paws off me you big, blue-furred Kitty!”

Beast and Spidey find themselves shunted into a future Earth populated by the progeny of Hank McCoy, all of whom regard him as their own Adam of Eden and Spider-Man as… well, a kind of animated Kibble. Questions abound, chief among them exactly how much of the “old in-out-in-out” McCoy must have got up to sire an entire planet’s worth of feline offspring. But logic and linearity are almost anathema to this story, which bounces around merrily between scenes of Spidey fighting a colossal blue cat in a Gladiatorial arena and McCoy fending off the advances of the pussy-peeps’ High Priestess. Hmmm, maybe he truly is a love God after all…

The plot’s whimsical nature is matched perfectly by Kaare Andrews art, channelling something of a 60’s underground comics’ vibe with its uninhibited line work, Day-Glo coloring and Ben-Day dot shading. It’s got a surrealist edge which is rarely seen in modern Marvel comics and, at, only 10 pages in length, doesn’t get the chance to wear out its welcome.

On the whole I enjoyed it, but I know there are those out there who’ll out-and-out love it. In short, it’s a freakish delight.

Captain America + Quentin Quire: A more unlikely team-up I’d be hard pressed to find, or to imagine. Maybe that just makes me a dullard though, as there’s something so right about the marriage of snot-nosed, anti-establishment Quentin Quire to the wholesome Boy Scout Captain America – the Odd Couple incarnate. Not that they actually get married, you understand; that’d be just plain weird.

Instead they’re matched up in the hopes of re-establishing some trust between Avenger and Mutant, a difficult enough process without the yawning age gap between the two; as Logan remarks to Cap “That shield. That flag. It just don’t mean the same to them as it does to you. You want their trust? Show ‘em the man beneath it all.”

In the classic spirit of superheroics the two come to an understanding through the shared joy of ass-kickery, the arena of combat located largely within the psyche of Steve Rogers. It’s a pretty Spartan place as you might imagine. A wide open plain dominated by the largest Goddamn Vibranium shield you’ve ever seen which acts as a psychic barrier for Quentin and an awesome backdrop for the duo’s struggle as they fight an unbelievably cutesy army of mini-MODOKs (or MOGODs in this case).

It’s a lot of fun, with artist-turned-writer Jason Latour cutting loose with Quentin’s snarky, Pop Culture-ridden dialogue and a good number of lively scenarios for David López to illustrate; laudable work considering the modest page count. Lopez is new to me but his youthful art was quick to impress. The aforementioned mental landscape of Captain America – dominated by the shield – is assembled to awe and does so ably, and there’s a gleeful energy to all the action, a charm to the smaller character moments. Some winning jokes are painted onto Quentin’s T-shirts too – keep an eye out for ‘em.

All in all, it’s a great l’il story – unexpected and inventive, and a welcomed, more measured foil to the Beast/Spidey story’s zaniness.

Conclusion: Still coming out swinging every month, A+X is turning into the little book that could, punching above its weight with each new issue.

I’m not sure that this particular title can make the transition to ongoing series (predicated as it is on the events of Avengers Vs X-Men) but it certainly makes the case for a team-up book finding a regular place on the stands. It’s been a joy to follow its plucky partnerships since #1, yet it works just as well as a random impulse buy added to your basket on any given trip to the comic shop. And at the end of the day there’s not many titles that can claim that.

Grade: B+

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