X-Men Blue #6
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artists: Ray-Anthony Height &Ramon Bachs
Inkers: Marc Deering & Terry Pallot
Colorist: Irma Kniivila
A free night out in Madripoor leads Marvel Girl, Beast, and Jimmy Hudson to a new group of local super powered teens, but are they friend or foe?
What you need to know: Jean Grey is bored. Cyclops is training with Magneto. Angel and Iceman are both away, while Beast and Jimmy Hudson (son of Wolverine from the Ultimate Universe) are hanging out at the secret mansion they all call home. Jean attempts to invite Scott out for the night, but realizes he is not going to quit his training session. She then goes to “Plan B” and asks Jimmy, who clearly senses he was the back-up plan. There’s a moment of tension between Jean and Jimmy that I’m sure will be picked up on later. Beast over hears the offer for an evening out and decides to make it a threesome.
As par for the course, their fun evening quickly takes a sharp turn when Jimmy senses something familiar in a nearby alleyway. A glowing green liquid in a vial, is being passed on in an apparent drug deal. Since coming to this timeline, Jimmy’s memories have been foggy, but he knows whatever is in that vial, is familiar to him. We find out it’s Mutant Growth Hormone. Before he can stop the drug deal, the perpetrators are attacked by small scorpion like robots, mental control, and an eye-patch wearing young man. When Jimmy sees them get too rough, he steps in and quickly gets clobbered by the guy with the eye-patch, who has some kind of dark matter projection. Thankfully, Jean and hank are nearby and quickly turn the tide. Once they see Jimmy’s claws, the fighting stops. They call themselves the Raksha. Raksha is a Sanskrit word broadly meaning to guard or protect. They knew “Patch” (the Wolverine of this timeline used this alias years ago while operating in Madripoor) and state that their very existence is to honor his legacy. The leader with the eye-patch and dark matter powers is called Norio, Gazing Nightshade is the young lady with undetermined mental powers, another young lady named Whisper Doll, and Hexadecimal (the guy with the scorpion robots). Jean assumes they are mutants, but we never get a clear answer. They seem to know a lot about the current threats the X-Men are facing, and Norio goes on to warn them that they might have to “take whatever measures are necessary” to triumph over their foes. Jean has bigger plans for the two teams.
What worked for me and what didn’t: Writer Cullen Bunn is beginning to hit a stride with this issue. I like the direction, I like the pacing, and I like the dialogue. I didn’t mind Warren or Bobby not being in this issue, and I didn’t mind Cyclops and Magneto only getting cameos. The scenes with Hank, Jean and Jimmy out on the town are fun and make me happy that we get to see a version of Beast that is SO missed! I like the new characters. Their powers are kind of creepy, like Gazing Nightshade’s, who seemingly makes her victims vocalize remorse for their sins, while both of their eyes are bleeding! I’m looking forward to seeing the two teams interact and to find out more about them. In this, Cullen Bunn succeeds in keeping me around for the next issue. Now on to what didn’t work for me. The art.
While I realize art is subjective, I was very unhappy with the work this issue. I’ve been an avid collector of the X-Books for about 40 years and enjoyed long runs on titles with amazing artists. Maybe I was spoiled, knowing that if there was a fill-in artist now & then, Claremont would still be writing it and it would be good. My patience level is slowly dissipating. This is one of 2 flagship titles for the X-Men and their Resurrection relaunch. The interior art should be as incredible as the Arthur Adams cover. There are some panels that are confusing, and with no dialogue, hard to understand what happened. Throughout the comic, I was pulled out of the story because there are whole pages that look very sketchy and rushed. Four artists worked on this book and this was the result? The book deserves a much more experienced art team. Period.
Final thought: Long-time readers, collectors, and completest will want this issue, but it’s disappointing the interior art fails the way it does here. Although the writing is improving, I wouldn’t be surprised if casual readers passed on it, which is frustrating.