The X-Men realize they’ve been had, but it’s time for them to figure out by whom, and that is something that leads them down a very dark and terrible path of suspects. Meanwhile, Amora and Yuriko/Ana locate the remains of Selene the Black Queen (much less friendly than my favorite resident queen with a rhyming name) who entertains the most brief rebellion in mutant history against Arkea. Seeing someone as powerful as Selene brought to heel, especially after a Necrosha namedrop, is quite a startling image. Brian Wood definitely ratchets down the pace in this one, letting the team use their mental faculties rather than their superpowered ones, and it’s a pretty cool interlude to watch them work. We also get some great dialog from Quentin Quire making sure John Sublime doesn’t do anything out of sorts, and I absolutely love how no one takes Quire seriously anymore. When he remarks that he admires Sublime and has been reading up on serial killers, Sublime’s only response is scarce acknowledgement with “Is that so? How cliche.” There’s also a darkly funny comment that ties into Uncanny Avengers that I won’t mention here because it’s fairly spoilery. Overall the dialog is fantastic, sounding naturalistic for the most part, but just witty enough when it needs to be to snag the reader’s attention.
Kris Anka’s linework does not disappoint. There’s an absolutely stellar fluidity from one panel to the next, giving motion and verve to every page and every scene on the pages. The character’s facial expressions also contain an incredibly high level of nuance, particularly in the eyes which have a tendency to narrow and widen at the best of times, making the drama far more impactful and the comedy far funnier. Oh and he made Selene look like Sadako in her debut which...yeah, frightening. The colors, from Jason Keith, bring these images and actions to beautiful, bright and vibrant life. This is an extraordinarily colorful issue, from stark white rooms to the vast ocean and plenty of places in between that all look beautiful. There’s also a brief epilogue covering another part of the team and their battle against a group of rogue sentinels pencilled by Clay Mann inked by Seth Mann and colored by Paul Mounts (Brian Wood remains on writing) and while it’s only five pages long, it makes the absolute most of those five pages bringing hard-hitting, sentinel busting action to the book just to remind readers that there’s still plenty of action to be had.
Quentin Quire, for all his abilities, does not have the power to bi-locate, which is why it’s odd seeing him in an X-Jet as well as in the Jean Gray School in the last five pages. The title page for that reads “MEANWHILE,” which would imply it’s going on at around the same time. This wasn’t a problem last issue as we had no idea Quire was still supposed to be on the grounds.
Death is obviously cheap in mainstream comics, but I’ve never been a big fan of characters, especially those long dead, brought back through unclear means. Selene is resurrected by Amora using a technique that...well, is never really defined. It always begs the question “Why not just do this for everyone?” It neither killed nor depowered her and without defining exactly what she did, it leaves it too open and convenient.
Neither of those points stop this book from being incredibly enjoyable. There’s a reason this book is a breakout hit of Marvel Now! It’s got an amazing roster with some incredible creators behind it telling stories that revolve around old characters used in novel and interesting ways as well as teaming up characters who aren’t usually seen together, and who may not like each other very much (the dynamic between Monet and Rachel Summers is delightful) coupled with some of the best art in the industry.