X-Men #15.1

by James Hunt, Reviewer |

Story by
Victor Gischler
Art by
Will Conrad
Colors by
Brian Reber
Letters by
Joe Caramagna
Cover by
Jason Pearson
Publisher
Marvel Comics
Cover Price
$2.99 (USD)
Release Date
Aug 10th, 2011

Mon, August 15th, 2011 at 7:45PM (PDT)


With this title’s premise sort-of established as “X-Men Team-Up,” this Point One issue -- ostensibly a jumping-on point for the series -- features the X-Men teaming up with the new Ghost Rider. In that sense, it’s a complete success. This story does indeed feature that.

Sadly, there’s little else going on. The plot sees the X-Men investigating a mystical threat peripherally related to Moonstar’s family, with an intervention by the new female Ghost Rider part way through. As a Ghost Rider story, it would be floundering (not least because the character’s presence doesn’t actually move the story along), but as an X-Men story it’s utterly a fish out of water. No matter how you dress it up with familial connections, mystical shaman and demonic possessions aren’t X-Men material, and that harms the narrative.

If, as we are led to believe, the goal of a Point One issue is to present a single-issue story reflecting the current status quo of a property and weaving in plot threads to bring readers back, this completely fails in doing so. It’s self-contained, but to the point of being throwaway. It conveys nothing of the X-Men’s goals or situation, nor, for that matter, of the Ghost Rider’s.

Back in the day, it would have made an unconvincing issue of “X-Men Unlimited.” Today, it’s even harder to forgive. One wonders what made Gischler choose the team he did, as Cyclops, Storm, Gambit, Pixie, and Moonstar have no obvious connection to one another. I buy Cyclops as a field leader, Moonstar as the team’s link to the demonic phenomenon, and maybe Pixie as a magic user, but Gambit and Storm? Neither’s presence makes any sensible contribution to the story

Conrad’s art, at least, is decent enough, but given the uninspiring location and lack of anything approaching interesting action, he did well to wring what he did out of the story. The scenes with Ghost Rider are, as you’d expect, enjoyable. That's because the character is an artist’s gift in any incarnation. The closing fight scene is pretty much as good as action comics get. Conrad is less strong, though, when it comes to close-ups, conversation, and other such subtle work, with figures looking stiff and facial expressions slightly off.

As if the book didn’t have enough problems, Gischler’s dialogue here was very poor. Some characters are written in completely the wrong voice (Disapproving Auntie Storm, for example), while others (Ghost Rider) are simply spouting character-less, barely-functional sentences that seem designed more to fill space than anything.

So, as you can probably guess, this book fails more than it succeeds. We can assume a star for Conrad’s art on its own, and another for managing to deliver a coherent, if not especially interesting plot. Somehow, even that feels generous.

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