X-Men #162

Title: Heroes & Villains (Part 2): Treachery
Publisher: Marvel

Writer: Chuck Austen & Salvador Larroca
Inker: Danny Miki
Colors: Liquid!
Letters: VC’S Rus Wooton
Publisher: Dan Buckley

It’s been awhile since I had to review a book by Chuck Austen. It’s not an unknown fact if you hang around the IP/CN forum boards or even read a consistant amount of my reviews, that I have been on a downward spiral of apathy towards the X-Titles. None of the most recent batch of X-Writers (Austen, Morrison, Claremont) have given me any sorts of love. Each have had moments that I have been accepting, or even liked, but none have made me enjoy X-Men. We give that fine honor to Whedon.

So, we are on countdown until Austen is off this book, bringing us X-Statix’s Milligan. I for one can’t wait. Now, let me give you some reasons why.

Story!

A few issues ago, I thought AUsten gave us a great moment. The X-Kids were all worried, Sammy the fishboy specifically, about a tree that looked remarkably like Black Tom. Of course he’s a kid and just was letting his imagination get ahead of him. It lead to this fantastic page – the highlight of Austen’s run, as far as I’m concerned. It had Juggernaut standing in the back woods of Xavier’s, looking out hopefully – yet it felt that he knew the truth. Asking, “Tom?”

It made Juggernaut seem real, human, and not this unstoppable brute that is beyond becoming human. It would have been Austen’s sole triumph in my eyes, if he had made Cain Marko a character you could see had moved into a man who felt loss and pain. All Austen would have had to do was had Tom never show up.. but no. Not only has Tom shown up, but Juggy has known about him being alive the whole time. Juggernaut’s been a mole inside of Xavier’s, and no matter how much he now cares for some of the students – he’s a traitorous bastard. It makes that prior scene that I mentioned feel empty and useless. It could be argued that I was just caught and stricken unaware and the fact that it’s Austen leads me to disliking it. A valid point, but it’s hard for me to believe that after 2 or so years of stories that have made me want to eat Austen’s brain – he might have gotten one over one me.

Oh, and hey! Xorn’s back!
Jamie, you mean Magneto?
Nope. Xorn!
Umm.. you mean the one Magneto killed to pretend to be Xorn?
Nope! XORN!
Please don’t tell me that this is Xorn’s twin, and Magne–
Wait, not Magneto – Magneto is a good guy in Excalibur.
Ok, that this is Xorn’s twin and the person who took over his now dead brother WASN’T Magneto?
Now you are starting to understand Chuck Austen and Chris Claremont’s X-Men.

I didn’t like Morrison’s run – but the rampant, systematic destruction of it is pretty obvious and seemingly rude. If I was a big name who was offered an X-Run, I would ask if they were going to do this to anything I create that’s not standard canon. I’d be worried. Now onto art.

Art!

Salvador’s cover is actually pretty cool, given the plot of the story. We’ve seen quite a few issues that have Juggernaut as the huge lurking group figure with all of the X-Men. Given the traitor story, having him be the central figure of all the villains is a pretty neat switch.

On the inside, Larroca is in prime form. His facial expressions, and seemingly innocent eyes are excellent contrast to his bodywork. The musculature is a bit heavy, but I’m ok with it for the sake of a big action issue with a *gasp* shock death at the end. His look for Exodus is perfect, and I haven’t seen him look this good since Exodus in the old Astroid M days.

Overall!

This issue made me grumpy. The death of Sammy the Fishboy, the seemingly useless place that Nocturne has taken only to disappear. Ignoring the Juggy spin, I just wasn’t thrilled. Maybe it’s because the analogy of:
Jesse Baker:Bendis::James Hatton:Austen is apt. I donno. I’m sorry if it is.