If there’s one certainty that can be relied on in comics, it is the fact that no one is ever truly dead. In no other sub-universe is that more true than in the X-Men’s corner of the Marvel Universe. That said, the collection of deceased mutants chosen to grace the pages of “Chaos War: X-Men” strays away from the obvious “hits” of Cable, Sabretooth, and Nightcrawler (maybe this is a portent of resurrections to come?) to offer up a pair of Cuckoos, a handful of Madrox clones, Moira MacTaggart, Banshee, and the original Thunderbird, John Proudstar.
I don’t know where my personal affinity for Thunderbird stems from. It might be the old “Keeping America Beautiful” ad with Iron Eyes Cody, or Apache Chief of “Super Friends” Fame, or even Tonto riding alongside the Lone Ranger, but John Proudstar (and, of late, his little brother James) has been a character I’ve wanted to read more about. Given short-shrift in his “X-Men” tenure, Thunderbird gets the lead in this comic. Thunderbird serves as the lead to this ragtag bunch who are trying to determine why (and where) they are back among the living.
Claremont and Simonson deliver a story that gives Proudstar a purpose, as he seeks to fulfill a prophecy left behind by Mystique’s ally, Destiny. This story gives me hope that there might be life after death. It’s less a “red skies” tie-in to the “Chaos War” and more a well thought-out tale of post-life superheroic, mythological existentialist struggle, the type of which can only happen in comic books. Clearly, Claremont and Simonson have harbored notions for Thunderbird, and it’s good to see those ideas given wing here.
Braithwaite’s ethereal pencil work is cleverly matched for the depiction of risen dead mutants. His characters are smartly defined, strong, sharp, and clear, but the line shines through Schwager’s colors in a manner that gives the book – specifically, the characters – a ghostly appearance, neither on the page nor of it. It certainly helps that the characters aren’t heavily inked, almost popping up from the background of their pages.
I’ve seen my share of resurrected heroes, alternate X-Men realities, and retrofitted tales that happened between panel lines, but this story is a refreshing breath of air, a quaint surprise as these characters are released from their crypts to entertain us once more. Of all the “Chaos War” tie-ins, this one is by far the most enticing.