In this issue of “X-Men,” readers slide between the past and present to see the original X-Men’s first encounter with The Evolutionary, and the current X-Men (some of them at least) in their latest encounter. It’s all very mysterious. Sorta.
In the past, the original five X-Men, with Professor Xavier at the helm, have a painfully unsuccessful battle with The Evolutionary while The Evolutionary searches for the “leader of mutantkind.” Many years later, the same X-Men, minus a Jean Grey and with a Wolverine and White Queen tossed in for good measure, fight an updated version of The Evolutionary equally unsuccessfully after they’ve massacred The Neo. But Cyclops is rushing to save the day, if only everyone would stop getting in his way.
Christopher Yost struggles to find character voices and a compelling story to tell. There’s some funny stuff in the issue, but with the exception of Emma Frost, the dialogue doesn’t quite synch up with the character it’s assigned to. A lot of the non-funny dialogue comes off overly angst ridden and feels dated, though perhaps that’s deliberate since some of this issue takes place in the past. It seems like there should be a way to show growth and character development between characters in their heady teenage years versus their more mature current years without making the teenage stuff painfully bad, though. Most disappointing here, however, is the plot reveal, which is easily spotted a minimum of 16 pages away, but is played up like a big surprise. It’s disappointing and unfortunately sloppy feeling work overall.
Paco Medina and Dalibor Talajic share the penciling duties in this issue, and what could have been a total disaster thanks to wildly different styles is saved in part by a smart and clear breakdown between the story and its then and now components. Talajic is wisely assigned the past, which is a good fit for the look of his work. Medina tackles the more glossy (and apparently boobalicious) present. Unfortunately, though Talajic’s style is a welcome change from so much art that all looks the same, the inconsistent facial expressions and storytelling leave a lot to be desired. Additionally, though the look for each of the original X-Men is compelling enough, they don’t look as we’ve come to expect, and since they don’t look consistent enough from panel to panel it’s doubly frustrating. Medina’s art is less interesting, but more consistent and “traditionally pretty.” On the whole his storytelling is better, if only because the facial expressions and characters feel more consistent.
“X-Men” has been floundering. Certainly without Chris Bachalo’s infectious bold sometimes insane art there’s not much to excite in this title right now. The book deserves some more centered and compelling stories and a consistent ongoing creative team. Without it, this feels like an X-book lost, unsure of itself, and pointless in its purpose.