by Rick Remender (Writer), Steve McNiven, John Dell (Artists), Laura Martin (Colorist)

The Story: As Wanda and Simon prepares to betray the Apocalypse Twins, it seems that Rogue and Sunfire have other ideas about what they should do. Hilarity ensues.

The Review: Well, I can’t properly review this one without actually spoiling a lot of what happens here. so here’s the regulatory warning.

*Spoiler Alert*

Now that this is dealt with, let’s get into the heart of the matter. Death in comic books have become gradually cheaper as years went on, with many issues actually presenting them in their solicits as points of sale. Their importance and impact now being significantly lower, they have become gimmicks that have lost quite of their charms, since most of them are then retconned or repaired sooner or later. It’s easy to become jaded now when a character dies in the end of an issue or when an issue promises to be important because someone will die. It’s a simple fact.

Rick Remender goes forth here and actually goes on to ”kill” three of our protagonists here. With the word kill used in this way, some of these deaths are either too big or simply dubious, as some of these characters are either too big to simply go away ( I sincerely do not believe that Scarlet Witch will actually die, considering she’s supposed to star in the next big Avengers movie by Joss Whedon).

Despite the overall negativity of the previous statement, credits should be given to Rick Remender for not pointing death as a big finality of his storyline as he actually does not give character cheap deaths or simply waves them away in a nonchalant way. The way Rogue, Wonder Man and Scarlet Witch are mortally wounded is done in a way that adds drama and gravitas to the story, with their deaths having a direct impact on the story and the relationship between those characters. Despite the fact that it could be perhaps seen as overkill, this issue does actually use these deaths rather well by putting them in a much better context than what could be normally seen.

The context in itself is presented very well, with the story putting a good lot of tension, chaos and action to provide a sense of excitement for the readers. In many ways, this is Remender reaching the crux of a good number of issues building up to these sorts of confrontation, with the big mayhem officially starting with this issue. The confrontation Rogue and Sunfire has with Wonder Man and Scarlet Witch, with the help of Grim Reaper, Daken and Wolverine is something that goes all the way to surprise and shock, setting up for more to come without shying away from the present action.

Even the first few pages are here to entice readers that big things are coming, with some splendid use of alternative Earths and timelines, some of them being written by Remender himself. Fans of Marvel comics shall be pleased by the apparition of Kang the Conqueror as he goes and search for characters like Doom from Doom 2099, May Parker from Earth X and Betsy Braddock from his own fascist timeline introduced in Uncanny X-Force. Since super hero comics are usually made so that readers anticipate the next issues, this one does its job really well.

Of course, comics are also a visual medium that are as strong or weak as the artist working on them. A good story with a weak artist becomes a rather middle-of-the-road affair, with the opposite also being true. Thankfully, Steve McNiven and John Dell are here to illustrate the action and the large scope of the story, a job they do efficiently. McNiven is really able to bring out some of the larger concepts rather well, like the first few pages featuring Kang, which are simply fantastic-looking in terms of disparity and pacing. Each panels are distinct, yet share in common the main themes and some of its characters in order to bring out a sense of apocalypse and foreboding. The other pages are nothing to laugh at either, with the action, violence and drama being shown as big without making them look too humongous. Focusing on the characters and their reactions rather than the big blasts and the punches, McNiven is able to convey the dramatic touches needed for the aforementioned deaths to actually work.

He is not perfect, though, as he has a certain lack of clearly defined sceneries and backgrounds in several scenes. Not all pages suffer from this, yet it becomes rather apparent when there are only some small bushes or rocks in the background to add a minimum of diversity, which becomes rather odd considering how some of the prior scenes in the book are actually very rich-looking in details. Still, it’s a minor weakness as it does look great as a whole.

The colorization of Laura Martin is really strong, too, with her going in a way that is both methodic and hyperbolized. She works with a good lot of very bright and highly contrasting colors in several scenes, with the dark and somber shades that Daken and Grim Reaper sport that clash with the high energy and definitely more diverse in colors characters that are Wolverine, Sunfire, Scarlet Witch and the others. The colors used in the backgrounds during the action scene are also fairly effective, pinpointing a certain division between cold and warm thanks to the red backgrounds and green grass that really establish a certain tension and chaos, without destroying the alien look of the setting.

The Conclusion
: While the use of several deaths may come as a bit excessive, the tension, drama and chaos of the issue, combined with the rather strong art of Steve McNiven and the colorization or Laura Martin makes this issue really enjoyable.

Grade: B+

-Hugo Robberts Larivière