While this series started off as a search and a rescue for Illyana Rasputin, this issue brings Cannonball, Pixie, and Gambit into the spotlight. The story sets up quickly, following the lengthy prose “Previously” page. Without much delay, lines are drawn in the flaming sand and foes are defined. No time wasted with decompression here. Yost’s story is briskly paced and filled with turmoil, trouble, and tension. N’astirh plays with the hatred Pixie has for Magik and offers to replace Pixie’s very soul, so long as she slays Magik. Gambit’s Death persona takes over and the beaten path gets left behind.
There are enough demons flying around in this issue where no one should make it out alive, especially a half dozen lower tier X-Men wannabes. The varied X-costumes don’t offer much unity to this team as the six of them are buried in reds, maroons, purples, and all shades in between. Ramos’ colors add a chaos to this book that threatens to overwhelm the pencil art.
Talibao’s pencils are different enough from Raney’s to be noticeable, not to mention that Talibao chooses to sign the pages prominently as well. Raney’s work, on the other hand is very functional, clean, and crisp. There’s still a chaos to the panels, but not a chaos of the panels. Only in a book set in hell (Limbo, I know, I know) could these two trade off. Talibao packs pizzazz into his work, but needs to polish the technical aspects of his art. Take a look at the subdued Dazzler toward the end of the story where she appears to be not only unconscious, but dismembered, as well, for a sample of where stronger technique could be applied.
This book fails to impress. There’s some high-falutin’ action, sure, but at no point is this book more than that. Inner turmoil threatens to consume some characters, but in the end, all’s well. After all, these are heroes in hell. They always prevail. Anyway, could this series have ended without the team bringing Illyana back?
I’ve groused about this before, and I’m sure others have also, but I’m not sure why I’m paying an extra buck for a twenty-two page event book. Aren’t event books naturally programmed as better sellers? Wouldn’t these three-issue events have been prestige format books once upon a time? I don’t mind paying an extra buck for high-quality books. I’ll even pay an extra buck for upper-middle quality books if you give me some choice filler material, but an extra buck for nothing sure seems like a bit of fleecing to me. If this were a $2.99 book, I’d feel a little more confident in recommending it, and the ranking might be higher, but as it stands, this is a sub-standard $3.99. Go buy “Gorilla-Man” instead.