by Simon Spurrier (Writer), Koi Pham (Artist) Rachelle Rosenberg (Colorist)
The Story: David Vs. Cyclops in a big fight. Who shall win?
The Review: In the last review, I talked about action in super hero comics and their necessity. I talked about how many writers sometimes took the action to the forefront without putting the emphasis on the characters participating in the action shown and how Simon Spurrier had somehow made a smart choice in always putting David in importance above everything else. It was a nice issue, yet it could have been better.
As it turn out, Spurrier knew this quite well, as while the action continues in this issue, it becomes much better. This is due to two factors: the focus on the battle between Cyclops and David and the numerous thoughts of David being written for the readers enjoyment. This provide an unilateral voice to the whole issue that brings many thoughts to a single subject, which really shows how Spurrier’s take on David is fascinating.
Despite the slow pacing of the fight and how more than half of the issue is Scott Summers and David Haller trading blows, the constant narration by David bring out his psychology and his philosophy out front. How David sees Cyclops, how a fight really is and the fashion in which he envisions the whole brawl is nothing short of character-defining, making this character move toward a new step in his evolution. As the fight evolve, so does the readers understanding of David, which was really well-told even before this issue.
The juxtaposition of David’s inner thoughts with the constant dirty action is well done, as it brings the contrast of a complex philosophy with the unclean and unpolished fight between the two aforementioned characters. Plugging-in many of the recurring themes of the series with some of its plot points, Spurrier is also able to move the book forward instead of spinning its wheels in a big action scene. Not every writers are able to do that in so natural a way, which does earn commendation.
The way Spurrier is able to fit most the themes of the series in the fight is also surprising and in a good way. Showing how the world perceive how the son of Charles Xavier and Scott Summers are bashing each other is fun and does show how some parts of humanity try to make sense out of the situation. This shows a good lot about the fascination and the love/hate relationship that humanity has with the mutants, which is one of the central themes of the X-Men books, though shown in a new light that is more befitting of Spurrier’s vision. It’s a shame, though, that the book didn’t really cover this angle enough in order to make it more prevalent or at least important for the progression of the story. It feels a bit like a missed opportunity, as there could surely have been enough space for this kind of point-of-view to become relevant to the themes of the series.
Another of the theme, which is also a huge plot point, is the fact that David knows that he’s supposed to perhaps cause a major catastrophe, knowing that his powers may be the thing that will doom everything. The way it is handled, though, is a bit rushed as it is delegated to the final few pages, with some other plot points that are barely covered in this issue as well with the arrival of another character. While it is a big reveal, it seems like there is a severe lack of preparation for it to be actually effective for the readers.
Still, this lack of effectiveness cannot be attributed to Koi Pham, who replaces Paul Davidson and Tan Eng Huat for this issue, bringing his straight line, yet bulky traits to this issue. Pham is really great at poses and seems to be much better at bringing lots of details when things are being overly focused on, which is something that Spurrier surely understand. The battle is well done, as the lack of beauty and the brutality is showcased throughout the various poses and the diverse panelling of this issue. Switching from the inside of David’s head and to the media once in a while, the issue flows very well as it creates a diversity of visuals that is rendered with talent by Pham. The best aspects are the sequences, though, as Pham is truly able to show the progress of the fight in a way that not only make sense, but also in a way that enhance the pacing of the whole story. It is a very good effort on his part, to say the least.
Rachelle Rosenberg is also very good in this issue, bringing a good deal of contrasts through the various panels, showing a very dark take on the fight between Cyclops along with a huge focus on cold colors while showing a good deal of warmers colors in the panels not focusing on the fight. The cold and dark colorization does bring out the fact that this is not an action shot or something beautiful and exciting. It is merely a fight that is brutal and without mercy. Employing that technique often, but not in an excessive way, Rosenberg do manage to create a good duality of colorization that makes the art even better.
The Conclusion: It could have been another traditional fighting issue, yet the smart use of this series theme along with the strong voice and identity provided by David Haller makes this issue a surprisingly potent one. With the work of Koi Pham and Rachelle Rosenberg adding to the effect of Simon Spurrier’s writing, this issue is very solid.
-Hugo Robberts Larivière