X-Men #166 Review

I wanted to really like this, honest I did, guv’nor; I swears to ya. I mean, I thought Milligan’s work on X-Force and X-Statix was, on the whole, fantastic.

I think he has a wonderfully different and subversive take on the super-hero genre – when he’s allowed to show it – that I was hopeful would lead to great things for a book that has, I believe, been wallowing in mediocrity for too darn long.

Sadly, however, whilst X-Men is by no means a disaster, neither is it the bright, brave new dawn I was hoping and praying.

The team go to the South Pole to answer a distress call, and uncover the latest threat to life as we know it within the 616 Marvel U. They are attacked – again and again – they fight off their attackers – again and again – and there is the usual mixture of banter and gritty one-liners.

Yawn – standard stuff, if’n you ask me. It’s not bad, but it’s not that good, either.

There ARE plus points, oh yes; Salvador Larroca’s art has rarely looked better, it’s all sinister subversive shadows and implied insidious threats, but the story line around which it is based left me feeling distinctly underwhelmed.

That’s not to say the whole thing is a disaster – Milligan plays up the dynamic between Polaris, Havok and Iceman, trading on the long standing sense of rivalry between the two male protagonists and the unresolved heartache from the past. Iceman and Polaris have drawn ever closer since Havok ditched her at the altar, and now that Nurse Annie has left town, do we detect the first twinges of regret from Havok at having let her go?

If handled properly, allowing the story to develop in its own time naturally, then it’s a potentially explosive plot that could have some serious ramifications.

Speaking of which, Polaris goes off the deep end again, reacting with a shocking fury that leads to a sticky end for her attacker, further demonstrating her fragile mental state. It is another evolving plot point that could have a devastating pay-off.

Leaving aside the intriguing character development – something Milligan naturally excels at – the action in this issue was confusing and, frankly, boring.

The X-Men suffer an attack – they fight it off – the bad guys either die or are left incapacitated…rinse and repeat…again…and again…and again…sigh.

The exact nature of the overall threat, that of Golgotha itself, is left unresolved. We know little about it, apart from the fact that whoever comes into direct contact with it is either killed or driven insane. At this moment in time, despite an attempt to make Golgotha appear to be an uber-threat the likes of which we’ve never seen before, I was left feeling…underwhelmed (there’s that word again).

Still, this IS a set-up issue, used to build the threat and act as a launch-pad for Milligan’s run, so maybe I AM being a tad harsh…I just expected more from such a naturally talented writer.

It’s also a fact that after two and a half years or so of largely apathetic reaction on my part, I am getting very close to dropping this title – I’m happy to give Milligan’s run a chance, but it had better improve from it’s current position of average and start to head to the heights that it’s capable of…or it’s goodnight, sweetheart.

Oh, and guess what – another plus point…no Wolverine! Yay! Bet he appears on EVERY PAGE next issue to make up for it…

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