After an incredibly rocky start, "A+X" has delivered a lot of interesting character pairings and solid creative teams, proving that there might just be a market for these unusual short stories. With "A+X" #7, Zeb Wells and Dale Keown take on Iron Man and Beast in a hulk-centric tale; while Christopher Yost, R'John Bernales and Chris Turcotte pair up Thor and Iceman to fight some Frost Giants set on wintery world dominance.
Wells relies heavily on the competitive and snarky relationship between Tony Stark and Hank McCoy as they try to out-clever one another while attempting to de-infect a robot designed to stop Hulks. Wells embraces what makes both Tony and Hank deliciously annoying and the result is an enjoyable tête-à-tête. The art by Keown is completely adequate and clear in its storytelling, but lacks style and soul. One joke in particular lands badly thanks to the visuals not being rendered correctly.
Iceman and Thor are a surprisingly good team thanks to Thor's accidental humor and Iceman's obvious one, and of the two stories, this one has more laughs per pound and a more satisfying resolution. Yost does a great job making Iceman look like an idiot with his incessant jokes, but then turning the tables and showing how powerful he is, jokes be damned. Iceman and Thor may seem like an odd pair, but they make a great "fish out of water" straight man and typical funny man in Yost's hands. Bernales and Turcotte's highly stylized digital art is not going to be for everyone, looking more like a dark animated cartoon than a comic book, but it works well in the context of this short tale and they play to their strengths with the choices they make.
When reading such short pieces as "A+X" tales, it's hard to decide what makes it worth reading, especially at a $3.99 price tag. The stories, because they are so short, are necessarily slight and they rely perhaps too heavily on jokes and clever pairings. In the end, individual mileage likely varies from reader to reader based on both affection for the character pairings and interest in the creative teams. So far, I confess to being far more entertained than I would have imagined.