(Pardon the title.. Misfits reference for those who care)
REVIEWED BY: James ‘Loves David Hine’ Hatton
TITLE: The 198
WRITER: David Hine
PENCILER: Jim Muniz
INKER: Kevin Conrad
COLORIST: Avalon’s Matt Milla
LETTERER: VC’s Joe Caramagna
COVER: Juan Doe
PRODUCTION: Deborah Weinstein
EDITOR: Mike Marts
PUBLISHER: Dan Buckley
So – Those wacky 198 walk into a bar…
There are so many threads that have come out of the last issue of House of M That one might think that the story meant a lot to the Marvel Universe, but the ending was such that you could have had every character blink and the world had changed, and it would have had the same effect. I will admit to touting the last two issues to high heavens, as if it was a three issue story, then it would have been fantastic. This isn’t about HoM though – this is about one of the repercussions of it.
If you aren’t already familiar with the concept it’s about what is going on right outside of Xavier’s mansion. All the mutants that are left are being herded and accepted by the school cum refuge. They’ve set up tents, and all mutants good or bad have placed themselves in the care of the X-Men.
The comparisons they make themselves to the internment of the Japanese in WWII is there and quite fitting. The difference is, the Japanese didn’t have mutant powers… just giant robots.
So what is the story about? It really is about mutants tolerating and dealing with other mutants. All the while the oppressive government stands watch over them. The sentinals are still omnipresent and make an interesting character themselves, even as just background detail. So as the story starts to coagulate, we see that some characters are being featured. We have Callisto as the de facto leader of some of the mutants, knowing herself something about leadership from her days as the head of the Morlocks. You have Mr. M, previously of District X fame who has come in and just doesn’t stand for people being mean. Why be mean, ya know?
So as the evil side of mutanity is trying to rebel against it’s human captors, we have smaller stories going on. Magma who had to be mentall drugged by Empath and brought in – and now seemingly is making nice nice with Johnny, a guy who has tentacles coming out of his belly. Lorelei whose beautiful hair was her claim to fame as a stripper.
That’s the power of the story, as it’s about so many characters all at once, so much that it feels like this is a good telling of what the 198 is, but at the same time there is no overbearing storyarc, just watching this growing group of people slowly decend into imposed madness.
I’ve heard rumblings about people disliking the art in 198 and I have to say that it’s just not that bad. It’s a little disproportionate, but in a book where you are trying to tell the tales of a dozen different characters all at once, it makes sure that each panel tells it’s tale.
I can point out certain flaws, that all blonde characters look like the same generic blonde character, or that I still hate the way Beast looks, but that doesn’t change the fact that the book is well drawn enough to not garner a lot of hate. I really think it’s the inking anyway.
It’s not dreadful.. it’s just not perfect.
The 198 is a title that sits fine with me. It’s not a book for someone who has never read the X-Men. If you have no understanding of the way the X-World works, then you might not catch a lot of the little nuances, but I really don’t know as I’m writing with years of X-Crap stuck in my head.
It is though, a fun read, and once we get through the next issue, I’m sure my problems with a lack of focus will change into a ‘wow, look at all the story they fit in here’.