The Heartbreak of Forced Melodrama
What starts off as a somewhat promising issue ends up as a mildly blithering melodramatic farce (with no humor or genuine emotion involved). Neal Adams's artwork oscillates between fantastic and mediocre, though I suspect the mediocre bits were partially intentional as to distinguish Sauron-induced optical illusions (but it's still poor art). The first half of the issue is simply an extended battle between the X-Men and Sauron (who knows their identities but doesn't do anything about it). Like the art, at times it is a fine battle, at other times it labors on tediously. It's a very unbalanced issue as a whole. The second half of the book quickly devolves into painful melodrama, as Lykos's not-girlfriend Tanya arrives to bring him comfort and joy, only to be horrified by his materialism and instantaneously swear off years of love and devotion. It's painful, for all the wrong reasons. What could be an interesting facet of the issue, Warren's hypnotic capture by Sauron, is left unresolved - and while that has worked out in recent issues with this creative team, it is starting to become tiresome, as it is such a major aspect of this issue and receives no satisfactory payoff; it's almost as if Warren is forgotten by the end. Lorna and Alex are back, and their relationship is starting to burgeon right under poor Bobby's nose, but for some reason Lorna and her hair are pasty white, even before Sauron's attack. The final pages of the issue become forced Victor Hugo-like storytelling, with everyone conveniently showing up simultaneously at various parts of the world, solely because Thomas/Adams want it to happen, not because it is feasible or realistic. The attempt to make Lykos more human with his internal debate and war, despite Cyclops's commentary, does not succeed, and instead only aids to the forced nature of the issue and ending. Or is it an ending? We are supposed to believe Sauron is gone, but it's hard to believe with Magneto's indestructibility and Thomas's penchant for reviving old villains that he is really gone (not to mention our knowledge of the forthcoming 4 decades of issues). It's still better than many of the pre-Adams/Thomas issues, but the team is continuing to show signs of running out of momentum.