Mike Carey has always been an interesting writer on the X-Books and his run may be looked back upon as something great. He delves into X-Lore and has produced a very interesting collection of stories that have similarities to older events, but bring something new (Age Of X, for example). His most recent arc sees him tackling that part of the X-Universe narrative which is always hit or miss: mutants in space.
Carey constructs a plot with this arc that ties into his Age Of X event and brings some wayward X-Men back to the fold after the events of Realm Of Kings. All the signs of a enjoyable Carey narrative are there: an oddball team that creates a unique type of character interaction, some fun and imaginative concepts and witty dialogue. However, the execution is all over the place and that is more evident in this issue than the ones preceding it.
Consider the big plot reveals of this issue. First we have Polaris and Havok being mind controlled by a creature who wants a war with the Shi’Ar so it can get revenge on its own people, the station our heroes find themselves on is as big as a planet and its engines are creating its own destruction and then the revelation that only Rogue (with the help of Frenzy) can save the day. These are all fine plot points but they are also completely worn out and overplayed. Mind control is just boring now, even though it is resolved at the beginning of the issue. Understandably you need a sense of rising tension but really is it necessary to have the station go critical and this in turn leading to Rogue (yet again) being the only one who can save the day. Yes, Rogue is the main character of the book but it’s a bit bizarre that three of the most powerful mutants of the X-Verse can’t actually help. And the main antagonist is such a throwaway villain that it’s hard to even remember his name, let alone care for his motives.
However in light of all this the dialogue in the book is still good and the interplay of our merry band of mutants is fun and playful, especially anytime Frenzy speaks. Carey does have a great ability to pick a relatively lower tier or fringe character and make them compelling. The team itself, minus Legion and Professor X, is an interesting mix. It will be a shame when Carey leaves the book, as his character choices have always been a highlight of his time with the X-Men. But his love affair with Rogue has perhaps outstayed its welcome, even though he has really elevated her character and created an interesting team around her.
The major flaw of the book though doesn’t come from Carey’s well-worn plot, but Steve Kurth’s art. For want of a better word, it’s a bit of a mess. It’s all a bit too sketchy, almost as if it isn’t finished. Some of the details are incoherent and the characters themselves, whilst serviceable, seem a little odd. Most of the characters noses seemingly quite large and Magneto seems off, a little too skinny perhaps. All in all, it does not help the book one bit.
What we have here is an overly familiar plot with a sub-par artistic presentation. This leads to an issue so underwhelming that by its end you’re willing the whole arc to finish. This is a shame as Carey has assembled a great cast but fails to deliver a story worthy of their time and ours.
WRITING: 2.5 / ART: 1.5 / OVERALL: 2