I don’t think anyone will argue with me if I say that Jeff Lemire and Charles Soule are the comic book writer equivalents of heavyweight champions. They are both well-respected, accomplished authors who have been producing some amazing work for just about every comic company out there. Taking on a mega-event that pits Marvel’s two biggest teams against each other should be a fun challenge for them, right? Inhumans vs X-Men #6, unfortunately, comes across as lackluster and stale.
That’s not to say it’s not good. There’s a lot to like with this concluding issue. Emma Frost embraces the obsessive, crazy, revenge-seeking villain-turned-hero-turned-villain role that’s been building since Cyclops‘ death in Death of X. From the first page, Lemire and Soule emphasize Emma’s fall from grace/sanity as she watches the X-Men and Inhumans batter away at each other with glee. Her mental state becomes pivotal as the issue builds to its conclusion.
The problem with this is that it’s stale. It seems like forever ago that Cyclops gained the Phoenix Force and instituted his will on everyone to protect mutant-kind in Avengers vs X-Men. All we have here with Emma is a direct parallel. Like Cyclops, she’s pissed and looking for revenge. Sure, she uses telepathy and giant robots instead of the Phoenix, but it’s the same story outline. Lemire and Soule really just steer Emma right into the parallelism and shout, “Hey! Look! We just made Emma the new Cyclops! Marvel can continue recycling the exact same storylines for another 2 or 3 years!”
While Marvel may be applauding their storyline-saving budget initiative, I think most will grow weary of the rebellious mutant leader just trying to protect mutants in his/her own amoral way. On top of that, Emma’s not really protecting mutants. At least Cyclops went bat-crap crazy because of his own confused sense of what was right. Emma goes bat-crap crazy out of loneliness and revenge.
If you get past Emma’s characterization throughout the issue, you have to get past Medusa‘s characterization. Medusa has always been a very regal, calculating matriarch for the Inhumans. For the most part, Lemire and Soule get her right. However, there are a few moments throughout the issue where her dialogue goes off the rails. At a pivotal moment in the action, a revelation is made, and Medusa’s dumbfounded response seems more appropriate for someone who’s just walking down the Icelandic shore and stumbles into the conflict than for someone who has guided her family out of Limbo to clash with the mutants.
Okay, so clearly there’s issues with some characterizations that raise concerns for the future. But IvX #6 does provide some really cool moments, too. At the beginning of the issue, the action is fast and hard-hitting as we get some pretty intriguing match-ups. We get a very cool moment with Emma and Black Bolt, which leads into an even cooler moment with Emma and Karnak. The juxtaposition of Emma Frost and Karnak is very intriguing. On one side, there’s Emma in diamond form and on the other is Karnak, who exploits flaws. This showdown provides us with three panels of sparse but very satisfying dialogue. Towards the end of the issue, Lemire and Soule give us just the briefest moment of an enraged Magneto that made me forget all about impotent post-AvX Magneto.
Leinil Francis Yu‘s art is by far the saving grace of this issue, yet it has its own issues. Yu does a great job of rendering the dozens of unique characters this massive cast presents. In the smaller moments where no single character is the main focus, Yu allows the eye to take in the entire scope of the panel. During the larger, pivotal moments, though, there’s a clear lack of detail that lends to them feeling anti-climatic. I would have loved to see some consistency.
A good example of this is in the comparison between Yu’s design and detail for the Sentinels that present a key rise in action and the underwhelming visuals surrounding the fate of the Terrigan Cloud. While the Sentinels are super cool, the Terrigan Cloud is what started all of this and it should be the scene that draws the eye.
With Lemire, Soule, and Yu at the helm, this should have been one of the best issues on the stand this week. Unfortunately, the numerous small problems with characterization and the lack of tension in the visuals force readers to question the direction ResurrXion will lead these two critically important teams.