Monday, April 12, 2010

X-Men Comments: X-23

I've commented before, I think, that as much as I consider myself an X-Men fan I've been at best an occasional reader of the comics. I've always struggled for some reason with 'team' books and the X-Men, for me, has been no different - perhaps it's the shear number of team members over the years or the depth of 'X' continuity that I've found difficult to keep up with and, to be honest, a bit daunting.

It may come as something of a surprise to regular readers then that in recent weeks I've picked up no less that four X-Men books ... one on the recommendation of a new friend, one on the basis of an intriguing solicitation, one featuring the return of a favourite character and one, the next installment of an excellent series of one-shots. Over a couple of posts this week I'm going to take a brief look at each in turn

The Recommendation
Over at the Batgirl to Oracle Message Board Administrator Noctis created The Laura "X-23" Kinney Portal in which he profiled his 'favorite female (and maybe even overall) Marvel Universe character, Laura Kinney aka X-23'. X-23 is a character I was aware of without really knowing too much so I set out to find out more.

On Noctis's recommendation I picked up X-23's origin story which begins with the 6-issue collection 'X-23: Innocence Lost': story by Craig Kyle, written by Kyle and Christopher Yost with pencils from Billy Tan, and originally published as a collection in 2006.

What a fantastic recommendation and a great introduction to X-23. Kyle and Yost expertly define the world that X-23 is to be born into - a world of intrigue, deception, limitless ambition ... and no little violence all contributing to the books 'parental advisory' status.

X-23 herself, created by Craig Kyle, is beautifully written throughout: sad and vulnerable and always with a sense of danger, I found myself pitying and warming to the character without - for much of the book - really liking the character.

The cast of supporting characters serve the story incredibly well - well written with fantastic, and realistic, dialogue. There's a lot of story contained within the 6-issues in this collection and it's well told without ever feeling rushed.

Billy Tan's art is absolutely fantastic: contrary to the tone of the writing the illustrations are clear and bright with sharp, confident inks from Jon Sibal and great choice and application of colours courtesy of Brian Haberlin.

In conclusion, a wonderful recommendation: I can't remember enjoying a 'new' read this much in a very long time - now I need to pick up X-23: Target X which apparently follows X-23's origin story across another six issue mini-series.

Thanks for a great recommendation Noctis!

The Intriguing Solicitation
Ironically, even before Noctis's X-23 recommendation I had pre-ordered the recent 'Women of Marvel' X-23 one-shot mainly on the strength of Marvel's brief solicitation for the book:

X-23 has spent her short life being used by those in power, from the military to the X-Men. But when she is forced to confront a being who can control her life with nothing but a thought, will X-23 finally learn how to fight - not for others, but herself? Guest-starring NYX!

Written by Marjorie Liu, with pencils by Filipe Andrade and Nuno Alves and complemented by a great cover from Alina Urusov I had high - no, very high - hopes for this book and I'm afraid those hopes weren't met.

Maybe this wasn't intended to be the jumping-on point I had hoped, maybe I just don't know enough about the character to fully appreciate the story but I found this a very difficult read.

Not challenging because I was trying to get to grips with the story, not uncomfortable because my emotions were being pulled in one direction and then another but difficult because I was finding reading the book something of a chore.

Maybe it was the extended 'scream' sequences with their accompanying harsh - scratchy - artwork that meant I just didn't get the book I don't know but despite the nearly forty pages there just didn't feel like there was enough story to keep me interested.

I didn't particularly enjoy the style of art throughout the book although as I'm always quick to point out I'm not suggesting it was bad - I just didn't like it. I like to see a little more detail in a panel - sharper facial expression for one thing - and instinctively find I'm turned-off by too many visually dark panels.

With hindsight, I suspect I wasn't the intended target audience for this book - not a criticism of the writing or the art just an acknowledgement that it wasn't for me, and that's fine.

Later in the week in the second part of my X-Men commentary I'll be writing about the book that features the return of a favourite character along with the next installment of an excellent series of one-shots.


Night said...

Hi - you should check out the Nyx series, 6 or 7 books, which also form a portion of the X-23 origin story...

Simon Breeze said...

Interesting, I've just recently started getting back into reading the X-Men after a break for over a year. Much like yourself, I find the X-Men a very interesting universe and have always considered myself a big fan, yet very intimidated by the complexity of that universe, which can be very off putting at times, where to jump on board?

For now I'm sticking with the Ultimate universe as it is still a young one and the odd one-shot or stand alone traded story arc that catches my attention, so I'm really looking forward to your future reviews of the X-Men one-shots you are planning.

Zaius said...

Thanks to you both for your comments.

Night: thanks for the recommendation, I'll certainly pick these up.

Simon: the one-shots always seem a good jumping-on point to me and I may now have to take a look at the Ultimate universe.