Welcome, dear readers, to X-Men: Bland Design, the weekly multi-part recap column that strives to answer the question: "What if Ed Piskor had no art skills, a juvenile sense of humor, and less classic material to work with?"
It's been a rough decade or so for X-Men fans. As part of Ike Perlmutter's feud with Fox over the Fantastic Four movie rights, Marvel's greatest franchise has suffered many an indignity. Cyclops turned into a villain by writers and editors with a Wolverine fetish. The worst crossover of all time, Avengers vs. X-Men. A serious attempt to replace mutants with the Inhumans, thankfully killed by the god-awful Inhumans TV show. Greg Land. But that's all over now (except for Land). With a Marvel/Fox deal on the horizon, the Fantastic Four can return, but more importantly, Marvel can give a crap about the X-Men again!
Each week, we aim to recap what happened in all of the X-books, make a few jokes, and struggle to survive the experience as we reckon our love for our favorite characters with what can often feel like a "quantity-over-quality" approach to comic booking.
Last week, we didn't have time to recap the X-books due to all the C2E2 news we had to cover, which means we've got to catch up. To do that, we've got to read and recap 13 — yes, 13 — X-books in one weekend. Is that even possible? We're about to find out!
NEW MUTANTS: DEAD SOULS #2 (OF 6)
MATTHEW ROSENBERG (W) • ADAM GORHAM (A)
Cover by RYAN STEGMAN
VENOM 30TH VARIANT COVER BY TBA
DEAD SOULS Part 2
THE NEW MUTANTS head to an arctic research base where everyone has died under mysterious circumstances.
But while they hunt for answers, something is hunting them.
Plus, a scared boy in the woods comes face-to-face with a familiar face from the NEW MUTANTS' past. And it doesn't go well.
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99
The New Mutants have been reformed as a team of paranormal investigators by original team member Karma. The roster: Magik, Rictor, Boom-Boom, Strong Guy, and Wolfsbane. The book opens on October Revolution Island in Russia at some kind of abandoned research station where a team of vaguely scientific types have locked themselves in a bunker to escape something terrible. They reference having found something terrible and their doom seems certain, so we cut to Brooklyn six days later, where the New Mutants sans Magik and Strong Guy, are eating brunch with Shatterstar at a nice outdoor cafe in a gentrified neighborhood.
Since Magic isn't there, the team is talking trash about her. They're not sure if they trust her, which has been the story pretty much since the mid-'80s. X-pository dialogue reveals that Boom Boom is a day drinker. Magik and Strong Guy appear to break up the trash talking session and take the team on a mission to Russia. The bunker we saw earlier has been destroyed, and Magik wants to investigate.
Inside, they find one scientist still alive, and he reveals that someone named Alexay released a giant monster from the ice after becoming possessed and then set it on the rest of the team. We're pretty sure this was an episode of Doctor Who, and a recent one too. Magik makes the scientist lead them to the spot where the monster was unleashed.
Oh! It's a frost giant! Well why didn't they just say that?
The frost giant attacks, and he manages to kill the nameless, expendable scientist. Magik, however, is able to parry his giant axe with her soul sword (we're not sure it really works like that though). The team attacks, but the giant is too tough. Rictor, Strong Guy, and Boom Boom take off as Rahne tries to convince Magik to do the same. Magik leaves with them, but it's not to run away. Instead, they explore some ruins where the scientists were excavating to find Alexey, the guy who set the frost giant loose, still alive.
Before they get any useful information out of him, the frost giant attacks again. Alexey reveals that right before he lost control of his mind and released the frost giant, he received a phone call from a man named Tran. Karma has a brother named Tran, keen readers might remember. In the winner for grossest X-moment of the week, Magik teleports herself and Boom Boom inside the frost giant where Boom Boom uses a time bomb to blow him up from the inside. This sobers her up from earlier.
For our final scene, we cut back to the woods where some teenagers were forcing a mutant teen to explore what looks like a creepy abandoned house. He approaches the door and… holy crap it's Warlock! Yes!
Awesome. Not only is this book a lot of fun, but each issue feels like a complete story. More has happened in two issues here than in 10 issues of Astonishing X-Men. Someone ought to give that Matty Rosenberg an ongoing X-book… wait a minute…