Brian Wood and David López continue their smart exploration of "proto-mutants" in "X-Men" #36, an X-title blissfully free of "Avengers vs. X-Men."
Brian Wood has somehow managed, in this arc and in an X-Men title oft ignored, to tell a story both small and personal with far-reaching potential. Wood's idea of "proto-mutants" could (and can) be mined for so many great stories to come, and yet it's also an idea that Wood has managed to keep self-contained and satisfying as a single arc. It's quite a feat and something I'd love to see more of in superhero comics -- especially in X-Men comics, which can easily get far too big for their britches to the detriment of the title. Wood keeps things smart and small, but with limitless future capacity.
Storm and her team, including a much-missed Sabra, continue the search for any glimmer of "proto-mutants" after their seeming destruction at the hands of their "creator" in the previous issues. But since Storm's team has all but gone rogue, operating without the authorization of Cyclops/Utopia, things have another layer of political and personal intrigue. Wood's newest character, seemingly a proto-mutant, or perhaps "the" proto-mutant, is a fantastic idea and his presence alone and opens up a wealth of possibilities.
David and Alvaro López are quite simply great artists for the X-Men, and especially for this team. David López takes special care with each character, and unlike so many superhero comics, they all have different body types, heights, styles, ethnicities and everything else you can think of. This a far cry from only being able to tell characters apart by their hair color. It's clear that López is very invested in the visual importance of each character, but he never sacrifices it for story. His storytelling is effortlessly clear and enjoyable. Rachelle Rosenberg's colors are a near flawless complement to López's work. As a result the visuals feel both appropriately superheroic and a bit more grown up, which is a good tonal fit for Wood's story.
It's a shame we're losing this great creative team after just one more issue. I can only hope Marvel recognizes the potential of this pairing and find another book worthy of them in its reshuffled Marvel NOW! Universe. In just a handful of issues Brian Wood and David López made one of the lost and "lesser" X-Men titles a must read. Seeing Wood work inside the vast Marvel Universe is a little bit like getting to, if only temporarily, follow a white rabbit down a dark but delightful rabbit hole. With López as his partner in crime, the visuals can live up to whatever Wood dreams up at the bottom of that rabbit hole.