Seth Peck and Paul Azaceta step on board to "X-Men" with issue #38, following a critically-successful run from Brian Wood and David Lopez. It's much to Peck and Azaceta's credit that with their debut issue, they manage to take a team-up that feels a little bizarre and turn it into a fun and compelling comic.
Rather than starring a group of X-Men, Peck chooses to just take Domino and team her up with Daredevil. It's a pairing that doesn't seem to make much sense at first; Domino has been around for two decades now and at times still feels a little ill-defined, and a pairing of a luck manipulator with a blind crime-fighter doesn't jump out as being a great duo. I think that's in part why "X-Men" #38 was such a nice surprise. It's a fun story, with Domino sneaking into underground casinos on her day off even as Daredevil comes crashing in.
The story itself feels a little simple, but Peck gives it a backbone in the form of dual narrations from Daredevil and Domino. Each of them is given a distinctive voice, and they carry the action in a way that keeps you engaged and entertained. More importantly, by the end of this issue the team-up between these two very different characters feels natural. So natural, in fact, that it makes you wonder why no one had thought of this before. The answer, I suspect, is because it takes someone like Peck to find a way to make this unlikely duo actually a strong match.
Azaceta's art looks great, with its thick ink lines and overall retro look. So much of this book works well on a visual level; the disdainful look Domino gives Batroc, Domino's leap into action alongside Daredevil, the radar rings around a villain's head to show a weak spot, the occasional green tints overlaid by colorists Rico Renzi. "X-Men" #38 reads well, but it gets an extra boost from its great art. It flows easily across the page and is a book that uses its medium well.
"X-Men" #38 was a very pleasant surprise. Knowing nothing about Peck's writing, I had no idea how he and Azaceta would fare on this title. Having a strange cast for the first issue made it doubly a mystery. The fact that the duo pulled it off so well gives me great hopes for the future of "X-Men." I'll be back, absolutely.