As Marvel announces it's FIFTH event today in Weapons of Mutant Destruction, one wonders if it's to take the place on the schedule of this event, Inhumans vs. X-Men, which came to an end today with it's sixth issue.
(Marvel just really likes events, okay. Event, event, event. As one ends another starts or is announced. Because
capitalism people love events. Yeah, that's it.)
Anyway, IvX#6, written by Charles Soule and Jeff Lemire with art by Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan and David Curiel ended today, closing what has been a frankly tedious and unmemorable chapter of X-Men history and the end of the first step in Marvel's hard push to make Inhumans a thing.
This event promised us big things, the last gasp of the mutant/Inhuman war before the ResurrXion brought more positive stories to both properties. And after a lacklustre middle act, there were high hopes this final issue would raise the stakes for a truly memorable finale.
IvX#6 barely delivers.
It may be easier to separate the issue into two things: What it does right and what it does wrong. Be wary, here be spoilers.
What it does right:
- The issue ends the event in a very self-contained manner. Many events final issues spend a big chunk of the issue setting up the upcoming status quo, a new series, or worse, the next event. Much like how many connected universe movies spend a little too much time focusing on setting up future movies in the franchise rather than focus on this one. IvX#6 doesn't do that. The majority of the issue focuses on the titular conflict and wrapping it up, such as it does, and allowing the two factions to move forward. It's refreshing.
- The art of Yu, Alanguilan and Curiel is fantastic, a well-suited for the frenetic conflict of the issue. It at times gets a little muddy, but overall it's great and it is nice to see this team back on the art duties after the middle section by Javier Garron. Garron's work is great and fun, but it didn't quite feel the right fit for the tone. Yu et al. make for a perfect fit.
What it does wrong:
- The issue is weirdly Inhuman's heavy. Most of the conflict is presented from the side of the Inhumans' point of view, with the mutants coming across in as the aggressors. Sometimes that makes sense, other times it does not. Especially as it basically sums it all down to the apparent fact that Beast did not come to the Inhumans with his dire news of Terrigen saturation about to make the Earth uninhabitable to mutants, and Medusa et al. immediately claiming that if they had known, of course they'd have helped find a solution or even helped destroy the Terrigen. Aside from the fact that in the Zero issue we saw that when Beast was about to approach the Inhumans with his initial findings he overheard them making plans to go to war on the mutants rather than give up their way of life, this issue ignores its own continuity and makes great efforts to make the Inhumans the good guys in this conflict no matter how much that doesn't make 100% sense. This is further exemplified in the final pages, narrated by Medusa, who explains where Inhuman society is left going forward and a lightly touches on the X-Men side of things too, and the issue ends on a splash page of casual clothes Medusa and Black Bolt at his bar…which is hardly a big, inspiring last page for an event.
- A number of scenes which should have been given much more room to breathe are lightly touched on in a single panel. Forge's revelation that Emma manipulated him into making Inhuman-hunting Sentinels, Young Cyclops' confronting Emma about her manipulation of his older self's image, to name but a few. Considering the middle act of this event meandered and waffled and lost all momentum, it feels like these scenes could have been given greater emotional and dramatic weight they deserved if this event was structured differently.
- Basically everything which happens with Havok. His motivations are pretty unreadable. Throughout the series this has been the case, but even more so in this issue, particularly when he saves Emma, considering at the start of the issue he blamed her for what has become of the memory of his brother.
- Everything done with Emma Frost just reads all wrong. Not her dialogue, per se, which is snarky and condescending. But no, this series and this final issue decides to set up Emma as going full on bad guy again, and really black and white bad guy too. Because now Emma is all about genocide. She uses offensive language to describe Inhumans, says that it has always been her plan to see them all dead. Follow this up that this seems to be heavily suggested as the result of losing the love of her life, Scott Summers, and it has pushed her over the edge – Emma Frost is now set up as an angry, emotionally broken female villain whose reason for villainy is the loss of a man. It's a reductive, tired genre trope, and something that Emma Frost is not deserving of and by now well past. Never mind the fact that Emma was originally conceived as a bland, one-dimensional fetish wet dream villain, she was always a far more interesting character when she was presented in shades of grey – a hard-edged, emotionally distant at times teacher who had been through some terrible trauma and always fought her way out of it. It made her a far more interesting and indeed vital character. And hell, she sees various students of hers die, sometimes in the most horrific manners including crucifixion, bombed, burned, cut apart and, oh yes, genocide, from which she was one of the sole survivors, but it is the death of her ex-boyfriend that tips her over the edge? All this, and we see Emma set up as a new big time bad guy in a kinky Magneto-inspired fetish-getup for some reason – which makes absolutely no sense at all. Yeah, Emma is incredibly poorly served by this series, and this issue in particular.
Yeah, all in all, this issue, whilst in some elements technically good, in story context and pretty much everything else, it's been a let down. There are still a few unanswered questions too, such as with no more threat of disease-inducing gas cloud, have mutant births also restarted? Hopefully, that and more will be revealed in the upcoming Prime issues and ResurrXion, and we can wash this whole weird, grim and dull time for the X-Men from our minds. And maybe Inhumans will have a better chance at being seen as heroes when they aren't actively fighting for the protection of a poison death cloud that roams the Earth.