Brahm Revel and colorist Christiane Peter raise the stakes in "Marvel Knights: X-Men" #2 as Rogue, Kitty, and Wolverine are faced with past demons thanks to the volatile power of Darla, a young mutant they've found. Simultaneously, a corrupt law system is instrumental in putting a dangerous drug with mysterious ingredients in the hands of the local population, and all these elements are coming together in the way any good story should.
The story overall is strong, with this small cast of X-Men on a very specific mission, there's a lot of room for character development and for the story to unfold naturally. Revel writes Rogue particularly well, and she's a great choice for this mini-series as she understands better than anyone both the rural locale/people, as well as the specific trauma of Darla's uncontrollable power. In fact, Rogue makes so much sense in this book it makes everyone else look unreasonable, but that's a nice change of pace that also somehow manages to not feel inaccurate to the character.
The biggest issue for the book is that Wolverine is behaving very strangely, and while it's clearly part of the plot to be revealed in time, Kitty's defense of his bizarre and utterly irrational behavior is highly flawed. While there are many different interpretations to the Wolverine character, he's long ago grown beyond the way he's behaving here, and Kitty should be able to recognize that the same way that Rogue does. It boils down to Kitty not being written well in service of the plot that Revel needs, and it's frustrating.
Revel's art continues to impress. There's a looseness to his style that creates a wonderful natural energy and movement on the page. Revel moves his characters very well throughout, and even the talking heads scenes feel energized and interesting. Revel is not afraid to let his characters act and though expressions don't always work perfectly, it's refreshing to feel real emotion and humanity on the page. The storytelling does lack clarity in one particularly tricky scene early on that is deliberately confusing from a plot point of view (mysteries are afoot!) but it's one of those moments when you want the art to be as clear as possible so that you can be sure you're not missing anything in your reading. So in that way it's a miss, but on the whole, the art is engaging and dynamic as well as tonally perfect for the story it's trying to tell. Peter's colors are gorgeous, both murky and evocative, and wholly appropriate for the tone of the story. As a fantastic contrast to the darker and more realistic colors in the bulk of the book, when illustrating the effects of the mysterious drug in the story, Peters really gets to cut loose with a psychedelic palette that just sings.
Two issues in, "Marvel Knights: X-Men" is shaping up to be an interesting and beautifully illustrated little mini-series. Certainly for fans of Rogue, dealt a horrible blow last week, this out of continuity gem that gives her lots of room to shine, is a must-read.