Victor Gischler – Dropped the ball
Paco Medina – Drew the tired horse back to the stable
Juan Vlasco – Outlined the dead body
The setup of Curse of the Mutants was outstanding. The Death of Dracula one-shot was a memorable piece centered on the variety of vampire factions in the Marvel Universe. It cast vamps as an assembled menace worthy of the X-Men. The early issues of the adjective-less X-Men brought that threat to bear, unfortunately it was an excruciatingly slow motion process that followed. The ending is a clear illustration of why I gave up on these hollow storylines in the early part of the past decade.
Curse of the Mutants could have succeeded if it was a focused 5-issues contained entirely within the pages of X-Men. You can only drag out a story to a certain point. Six months cursed the storytelling of Mr. Gischler. I actually found many of the character bits that he was able to place within the story quite enjoyable. Wolverine, and his relentless devotion to Jubilee, was particularly well done piece. Cyclops’s unflinching dedication to the mutant cause was also well done. Those two elements should have been the twin focus of the tale. There was enough good from Gischler’s writing to stick around and see what’s next…as long as the stories are self contained.
The problems with the story are typical. The compelling moments were surrounded by bits added to create length. Dracula is killed by his son, Xarus, at the beginning, resurrected in the middle, and destroys his son at the end. The fall and rise in the space of such a short time was poorly constructed storytelling. Xarus would have served as a greater menace if he stayed the villainous focus. Dracula could have returned at some later date, but the silly backpedaling wasted time and weakened both characters. Considering the story led up to a giant battle on Utopia with mutants versus vampires, it wasn’t action packed enough to mitigate the wasteful storytelling that brought us to that point.
Two changes, that are somewhat interesting, came out of this Curse. The vampire legions of Earth are sill united. I don’t see Dracula as leader making a followup event any more compelling, but as an ongoing menace cropping up here or there, they may have villains worth reading about. The only other change was the transformation of Jubilee to vampire. This happened all the way back in issue #1. Considering the action beats didn’t pay off, this storyline could have been so much more meaningful with a character-centric approach on Jubilee. I do look forward to seeing how Gischler deals with Jubs as a vamp. I just wish we got there way sooner.
The frustrating part is this issue, like the ones that came before, had some cool moments. The end of Xarus and the standoff between Dracula and the X-Men was packed with tension. The consequences leave room to explore for the future, yet the chapters we waded through to get here robbed much of the magic. That same tired complaint of padding for trade paperbacks surfaces again. The interesting germ of an idea presented here could have led to a watershed moment in the history of the X-Men. Instead, with more than a dozen parts, my lasting impression will be: some good moments, but a waste of time. Less would have been so much more. Unfortunately, Marvel is most interested in our shopping dollars. So much of the editorial strategy centers around selling as many different comics as possible, when they should focus on moving a higher quantity of truly spectacular books. It’s the same boring trip to that old well. The worst part is that the powers-that-be keep crapping in the well, so finding a cup of water worth drinking is becoming increasingly difficult.
Tags: Curse of the Mutants, Reviews, Victor Gischler, X-Men