Brian Wood and David López close out their fabulous "X-Men" run with a powerful issue that draws impressive lines between longtime friends, and leaves the "Proto-Mutant" concept sufficiently tied up, but in a place where it could certainly return as a story idea. All in all, it's a satisfying conclusion to a book ending far too soon.
Wood has written a brilliant political tête-à-tête between Storm and Cyclops in this run, despite them never being in the same room, and it escalates here into a physical confrontation between Storm and Colossus, who has been operating behind her back. As interesting as this has been, perhaps the best thing about this betrayal amongst old friends is how brilliantly Wood contrasts it in this issue with Pixie's youth, optimism and naïveté. Pixie's conversation with a 700 year-old "Proto Mutant" is full of hope, innocence and talk of best friends, while at the same time we watch long term friendships dissolve before our eyes.
My favorite thing that Wood does in this issue is a small moment in which we get a taste of how potentially powerful Pixie is. I tire so of listening to writers telling me how impressive a character is in overblown exposition, that it's shockingly refreshing to get to simply read it on the page. To read along and have your breath catch a bit in your chest as you hear yourself saying "Oooh. That's cool." Superheroes should be cool. I should have my breath taken away. But I don't want to be told why things are cool, I want to experience it. Wood and López do that in this issue -- a few times in fact. They're small but powerful moments that remind you why you love superhero comics.
López has been an exceptional artist for this title. My only complaint is that he wasn't able to do the entire run and needed a fill-in artist. His work on this title has only gotten better in every issue, and in a book filled with characters that have actual variety -- a winged teenager, an Asian telepath, a white-haired black goddess, a man of metal, an Israeli superhero/soldier -- he answers those demands with far more detail and quality than most artists even dream of. Every character has a personality and presence without saying a word. López's character acting and expressions (important for any Brian Wood book due to his subtle and character-driven writing) are pitch perfect. Yet he handles action scenes from an up close and personal fight between old friends to a fast-paced jet battle with ease. Storytelling is flawlessly clear and the inks by Alvaro López and colors by Rachelle Rosenberg are an excellent complement to the work as a whole.
All in all "X-Men" #37 is another great issue and a strong, if bittersweet, resolution to a run that has come to an end far too soon. If Marvel is smart, it will reunite this creative team as soon as possible on a new book for Marvel NOW!