Advance Review: X-MEN #203

X-MEN #203

Writer: Mike Carey

Artist: Humberto Ramos

Marvel Comics

Mike Carey’s action blockbuster ‘Blinded by the Light’ concludes — with a buddy movie action sequence?

Yup, it’s time for some Sam+Bobby action!

[recommended soundtrack for this issue and this review: You’ve Got a Friend in MeRandy Newman, Toy Story soundtrack. Go ahead and scroll down to start the Youtube video]

The X-Men are reeling from the shock of the combined attack from Exodus’ Acolytes, Sinister’s Marauders and Mystique’s turncoat X-Men (Gambit, Malice-Sentinel, Sunfire and Lady Mastermind). Sinister has sought out to destroy and incapacitate any and all access to future knowledge, including New X-Men’s Blindfold, Cable and finally the Books of Destiny.

Now Kitty and Colossus are left in a shattered institute with the New X-Men trying to revive a comatose Blindfold, the Astonishing X-Men are shattered from the attack at Mystique’s place and Carey’s team– oh, wait, there’s nothing really left of Carey’s team!

Rogue is comatose
Cable is dead (yeahhhh)
Lady M, Sentinel and Mystique have defected

Now it’s up to the two remaining X-Men, Iceman and Cannonball to escape the combined forces of the X-Men’s two greatest villains and retrieve the hidden Diaries. Mike Carey loves us.

Sam and Bobby rule the day here… for a bit. Carey comes up with a convincing battleplan to convince us that the two typeset ‘team rookies’ (one from the 60s the other from the 90s) can prove their mettle in this tough spot. Ramos manages to stay out of Carey’s toes and not confuse the action too much; I wish he would work to his full potential, as the brief flashback on page 3 hints, with the gorgeous crosshatch shadowed style he used to great effect in Dark Horse’s REVELATIONS.

What we love: Carey’s Emma Frost, with a duty to be cool for her adoring audience. Kitty and Colossus minding the kids (for all AOA Generation Next fans). Emma’s clandestine double mindwipe trick to protect the diaries. Bobby being cool, Sam kicking ass. Gambit in the familiar grey zone between the X-Men and the Marauders. And Everyone Hates Mystique!

What we don’t love: Lady Mastermind not being the center of the universe! But mostly, the Mystique-Bobby relationship, which Mike has only clued us to, but not really explored yet. Mystique (erm, SPOILERS!!!) spares Bobby’s life this issue, telling him he’s ‘the only X-Man who gets a benefit of a warning’. Presumably, Mystique joined the team and flirted with Bobby to incapacitate him as he’s considered their most powerful (Omega) mutant, but in the process felt something for him; something to make her put him above her foster daughter (who she cold-bloodedly shot in the chest – with no benefit of warning) or her birth son Nightcrawler? I hardly see the build-up to something so deep between the two in the title, as the whole romance took place mostly behind the scenes.

While the other four X core titles are busy micromanaging and keeping well out of each other’s business, Carey has taken the daunting task of looking at the ‘big picture’, putting all the separate pieces of the X-Men tapestry puzzle together and making the teams work together. I haven’t enjoyed this feeling of X-Men synergy since the days of Scott Lobdell’s masterminding the titles (but then, I make a point of saying this in every X-Men review lately).

In the Endangered Species back-up, Beast and Dark Beast conclude their visit in the Guthrie farm. Dark Beast looks at the kids as something less than lab rats, as last segment’s cliffhanger attests to, and you bet Beast has something to say about it! Beast versus Dark Beast in the catfight we were all looking forward to!

Grade: 7/10

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