X-Men: Kitty Pryde – Shadow & Flame #1 Review

(Note: I’m doing my best, on the suggestion of some of my Inside Pulse/Comic’s Nexus alumnus to make my rating numbers reflect the review a bit better. Thanks.)

Reviewer: James Hatton
Story Title: Dragon Quest

Storytellers: Akira Yoshida & Paul Smith
Colors: Christina Strain
Letters: VC’s Randy Gentile
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: Marvel Comics

I think that Akira Yoshida is out to get me.

He keeps chasing me around the X-Verse and ending up on my pull list for books, because I rarely check out the name of the writer when I am grabbing X-Books. I generally assume they are going to be somebody who is sitting on the outskirts of hitting the mainline titles. Yoshida, sadly, is doing this. X-Men/Fantastic Four which left me dry after two issues. Age of Apocalypse, which as many know I was drooling after, turned out to be a clunker.

Now this.

Now X-Men: Kitty Pryde – Shadow & Flame. Another attempt to mix the western X-men with something… well.. east-ish. A combo that screams ‘COSPLAY ME’ all over it, but has not hit any mark with anyone in particular yet.

STORY!

Kitty Pryde recieves a letter that reads like a love note for Lockheed. A hot green dragon, all sexy in her greenness, scaled, wanting it.. pardon me. Basically, it says ‘Come to Japan, bring the dragon’. This is misinterpreted as a love note – when already the writing is on the wall that Lockheed’s little friend is probably part of some kidnapping heist.

Kitty heads out to Japan with no understanding or reasoning as to why. No preliminary research. No ‘checking things out’. She waits until mid-issue to even bother calling her friends that live out there. We then learn that Lockheed’s friend (who is given the name ‘Puff’ – bleh.) has been kidnapped by the most generic villain ever to come out of Japan. Ninjas. Generic, no dedication to whether they are part of the Hand, ninjas.

She gets involved with a standoffish Japanese X-Files team and then she gets jumped by some toughs. Toughs that have been hired by the ninjas. Toughs that Kitty dispatches with and then decides that this was the reason she went outside and goes home.

Oh, the head ninja kills the toughs because they are stupid and failures.

Yes – this issue left me dry. Very dry. The story wasn’t altogether endearing, and somehow Akira has given Lockheed the ability to shift shape. I can only assume he’s trying to empower the dragons to make them a bit closer to the dragons of Japanese/Chinese mythology, but sadly I can’t even find a bit about a Chinese dragon shifting shape. I give up.

The greatest part of the issue happens when fighting the thugs, and Kitty gets hit with a donkey punch. That should explain enough.

ART!

Here is where I’m going to be a bit meaner.

Jamie, you just sat us and told us the moment of most acceptance related to a spot in the issue where Kitty recieves a swift punch to the back of the neck – don’t you feel as if you are already being kind of hard on this book?

No. Not at all. You have given Akira Yoshida the ability to play with characters that he loves in the X-Verse. You’ve given him stories that are obviously going to get some heavy buy numbers, if only because they have ‘X’ in the title. He then writes a generic story that involves political conspiracies, random thugs, oh, and ninjas that never appear (which is probably the truest portrayal of a ninja yet). Meh. I spit on you.

With FF/X-Men he had Pat Lee on his side, and then with Age of Apocalypse, he was with Chris Bachalo maybe has saved his street cred just a bit.

Jamie… the art is by Paul Smith!

Yes. Yes it is. I know he is one of those special legends of the X-Verse, but there is something so off about the art that it stuck in my craw. I assume that Smith pencilled and inked, so maybe it was the colorist – as the faces and looks and structures seem fine. The entire book just seemed ‘off’. That intangible ‘off’ that makes you sit and stare at it until you are fed up trying to break it down.

To put it simply – the cover depicts a perfectly fine pin-up of Kitty. It is supposedly done by Smith & Strain. Look at the interiors and tell me they are done by the same person?

OVERALL!

So the writing is ignorable, and the art leaves a bad taste in my mouth, even though it is done by the hand of Paul Smith. Unless I find out in a few months that our hidden bad guy is Pete Widom, I won’t be picking up the rest of the series.