Old school, 80s-style, intriguing X-Men
This issue feels pulled right out of the mid-80s run of Uncanny X-Men with its set of classic Alan Davis pencils, subdued colors, and layers of subterfuge.
Be warned – not only do I have a strong 80s X-Men fetish, but this issue focuses on my two favorite comics characters – Rogue and Kitty Pryde. If you don't share those feelings then this will probably seem a lot less thrilling.
Story & Script
The script of this issue is outstanding from the very first page. Even based on thought-bubbles we have no reason to believe we're not witnessing the actual Sabretooth shredding his attackers, but the illusion slowly gives way to the wounded Mystique.
I think Davis is at his best when he has characters mix pleasure with business, which is why I adore his run on Excalibur so much. He unravels and re-wraps layers of plot through the issue, and by the end we're several deep without the story seeming at all bogged-down.
Also, I simply appreciate when writers have characters use their powers with intelligence. From Kitty hitching a weightless ride with Rogue, to Mystique's nearly endless cache of famous alter-egos, to Rogue's efficient dissection of the ninjas – everyone in the issue gets to be super without being overly-powered.
It's no secret that I adore Alan Davis's artwork, and in this issue it is great. Of course his Kitty and Kurt are strong, but his villains are fantastic. Mystique and Mesmero have never looked better, and the final splash of a flaming Sunfire is a thrill.
Davis sometimes has trouble with Rogue, making her face too horizontally-lined and similar to Kitty's. On many panels here he seems to settle in to a more defined look, playing up her southern belle features and lithe physique.
If you like issues focused on smaller portions of the team, enjoy mixing action and intrigue, or if you really love Rogue and Kitty, then pick up this and the following issue. They're both the best Davis has to offer of his subtler take on superheroes.