Christos Gage continues to traverse recent X-history by bringing back some familiar faces in this issue. What he does with these neglected characters is quite surprising as the issue has a solid emotional backbone. Also there is a change up in the art department as Rafa Sandoval fills in for David Baldeon.
Throughout his time at Marvel, Gage has had a talent for dragging more obscure characters out of the woodwork and doing something interesting with them. This issue is no different as Weapon Omega and Mimic come calling. Both characters where last seen as members of Norman Osborn’s Dark X-Men and since that title ended not much has been made of these two individuals. Now all hopes of an eventual joining the team moment aside, both characters get some much-needed depth. Nothing existential mind you, but some general characterization as Gage gives a feeling of pathos to these characters. He very cleverly aligns Rogue up with the two wayward mutants and her understanding of their past exploits allows her to sympathize. This in turn gives more credence the whole situation and by the end of the book even the reader will be willing to at least see Mimic and Weapon Omega survive the experience.
Gage not only infuses the main plot with some solid emotion, but he actually manages to give a lot of the supporting cast time to breathe. It has been true that a lot of the cast haven’t had much to do apart from fight in the previous Exodus arc, but here we get a good turn out. Beast takes much of the center stage as Rogue and Gage makes sure the readers don’t forget what happened to the bouncing blue mutant at the hands of Osborn. There is something to be said that Beast is willing to help out, but then again he is a doctor. The only problem with some of Beast’s time is that he becomes the exposition for the issue. The fantastical science does hinder the flow of the book, but not to the point of ruining the emotions on display. Iceman, Cannonball, Gambit and even Chamber get a look in as well. Chamber is a welcome addition and his classroom moment is both surprisingly touching and a little humorous. Iceman does get lumped with some dialogue that will help get people up to speed on current event regarding Mimic and Weapon Omega, but it is nice to see the bonds of friendship between him and Beast. Gambit’s moment is a little too saccharine, but Gage at least gives him more lines and by next issue he may actually be considered more than a cameo. Cannonball gets some face time at the beginning as he shares his feelings with Rogue. The scene works well in establishing his status quo within the book. Although it is nice to see all these characters get some attention, it does feel like Gage is constantly reminding us of past events, both from the previous issue and previous storylines. Granted new readers don’t know Weapon Omega or Mimic and old ones might have forgotten them (not hard really), but the dialogue does suffer somewhat.
As for Rafa Sandoval, his art is a shift in style from Baldeon and for the most part it works. His layouts aren’t spectacular but there is a traditional sense to them that fits the book. But his line works gets mixed results. He manages to throw in some great visual moments, the full page Mimic/Weapon Omega entrance and the understated moment where Rogue offers her hand to Weapon Omega near the book. He has a great sense of action as well, with multiple X-Men taking on Weapon Omega with a grace sense of pace. But what lets the art down is some of the character work. Whereas both Beast and Mimic standout as excellent renditions the rest of the cast fluctuate. Beast is a bulky, animalistic and intelligent rendition, which really suits the character. Mimic is seemingly graceful and full of regret as Sandoval sells his emotions with his art. But Rogue often seems to be squinting and her fringe is just ridiculous and Iceman seems to look different in each panel he’s in. The other characters suffer from the weird squinting problem, but on the whole the art doesn’t detract from the narrative and mainly works well with Gages script.
Gage succeeds on bringing in some old characters and making them relatable and interesting. The rest of the cast manages to get some focus and this leads to a surprisingly emotive issue. However the dialogue often gets bogged down with exposition and it does hinder the flow. But the narrative is interesting enough if a little by the numbers and the character work balances the script problems out. Sandoval does a solid job this issue, his art on some of the characters is a little inconsistent, but he has an eye for action and litters the book with sold visuals. An easy read, but fun and the continued character development helps give the book the melodrama X-Men fans love.