Friday, August 21, 2015

Review # 172: "X-Men - 'Muertas' and 'Bloodline'"

Sometimes ideas that shouldn't miss end up doing just that. Brian Wood's all-female X-Men team is one of these examples. Maybe in a different world where Wood wrote more than just 17 issues, things would have turned out better. The work is good, only it's disappointing. "X-Men" comes off as a truncated, wasted opportunity.

Take, for instance, the villain situation. "X-Men: Muertas" exposes and helps to rectify an unseen oddity in the X-Men franchise. While it was easy for Wood to assemble an all-female hero team of mutants, the cupboard of female villains had run unusually dry. Most were either dead or in parts unknown while others - like Spiral - were being used as anti-heroes. The only traditional female X-villain still kicking around had been Mystique. But with her all over "All-New X-Men," "Amazing X-Men," "Uncanny X-Men" and "Wolverine and the X-Men," she was a wee bit too busy to be a part of what is admittedly a B-line title.

So Wood does what any comics writer would do if he had to create a new villain team: bring characters back from the dead or at least from a dormant state. Deathstrike has her consciousness imprinted on rich latina girl Ana Cortes who is desperately seeking fame. She joins "part one" villain Arkea (John Sublime's "sister") in a plot to resurrect Madelyne Pryor and Selene. In a creative twist, the two step outside the realm of X-Men villains and recruit Typhoid Mary (who many people forget is a mutant) from the pages of "Daredevil" and Enchantress from "Thor." Again: bare cupboard.

Regrettably, this story ends up falling a bit flat as it's a lot of setup with very little payoff. It has its strengths. Wood's writing of Storm is excellent as usual and he does a very good job with Monet who had just been released from the grip of Peter David's "X-Factor." Also, returning Madelyne and Selene to the deck of villain cards seemed like the right move to make at the time.

Unfortunately, Wood's time ends before they even show up again as antagonists. He uses his final issues in "Bloodline" to reveal some of the mysteries about Jubilee's adopted son Shogo, as his father shows up and abducts him. The X-Men stage a rescue at his compound, bringing along Storm's daughter from the future with them. I guess having the original five X-Men brought in from the past wasn't enough time displacement.

And now the ship has sailed. After Wood left, Marc Guggenheim's time as lead writer was not well-received and G. Willow Wilson (of "Ms. Marvel" fame) was not aboard very long before the plug was pretty much pulled and her efforts were re-focused on an all-female team of Avengers. Maybe we'll see the return of this concept with Marvel's mutants sometime post-"Secret Wars" and hopefully it will enjoy some more success. The potential is there and this deserves another shot.

Rating(s): 7/10 ("Muertas"), 7/10 ("Bloodline")

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