Posted on Tuesday, August 27, 2013
by Paul in x-axis
The Arkea story finished in issue #3, the “Battle for the Atom” crossover doesn’t start until issue #5 – let’s round out that first collection!
Actually, though, that’s unfair. This isn’t a filler issue; Wood could easily have strung out the Arkea arc for four issues if he’d wanted. If anything, four issues would be more common these days. Instead, this issue seems to be trying to take a moment to lay down some markers for future stories and character directions, before the big crossover comes along and subsumes everything for two months.
There are two strands to this issue, pretty much unrelated to one another. In the first, Wolverine tags along as Jubilee takes baby Shogo to visit her old stomping grounds in California. Wolverine’s not meant to be in this book’s regular cast, but evidently Wood’s willing to use other X-Men where it makes sense – and this story really does need Wolverine, given his long-established role as Jubilee’s father/mentor figure. It’s largely a case of Jubilee acting as though she’s visiting something she’s left behind, and Wolverine quietly buying up her old family home so that it’ll be there for her when she finally wants it, which is all very sweet.
It’s pretty clear that Wood is not that interested in the whole vampire thing, which is perfectly understandable since it was a terrible idea, and other writers have already done the heavy lifting to get Jubilee back into circulation. The general approach is just to treat it as her current power set, which pretty much makes sense for the character that Wood inherited. Even so, this issue tiptoes around the whole vampire thing to a remarkable extent; there’s an acknowledgement that she needs some protection to be out in the sun, but that’s literally about it, even though the theme of the story is about the life that she’s left behind and whether she can ever go back to it. These are the opening issues of a new series, officially at least, and if you’re going to bill something that way, it seems to me that these basic concepts ought to be set up somewhere. It seems particularly odd to have characters tiptoeing around a clear explanation of the vampire when they’re also devoting entire pages to reminiscing about the details of old Chris Claremont and Larry Hama stories.
Still, if you already know Jubilee’s status quo – and I guess most readers probably do – then the story’s a nice chance to see her and Wolverine back together again, and that’s a relationship Wood gets very well. And we’ve got guest art from David Lopez, who’s always good on this sort of story, and whose work is always beautiful to look at. I remain mystified by the fact that Lopez keeps cropping up on fill-ins when he so obviously ought to have a high-profile assignment, but at least this issue gains from it.
Oh yes, the other half. The rest of the team squabble while rescuing an airplane in trouble. This is the obligatory action sequence, but the real point here is to have Rachel and Storm argue about whether it would have been acceptable to kill Karima in the previous issue, and for Rachel to challenge Storm’s authority on the whole topic. I’m fine with that as a direction; Storm’s a bit of an elder statesman character, and there’s nothing wrong with having somebody else challenge that status.
As with earlier issues, though, the action sequences leave something to be desired. There’s a commendable attempt at coming up with a clever scheme to save the plane through the creative use of powers, which is precisely how these things ought to be done, but for the life of me I don’t understand what the plan actually is or how it’s supposed to work. It seems to involve using telekinesis to create a rope of some sort to… to… I guess they’re lashing the plane to the Blackbird or something, but it’s never entirely clear, I have a nagging feeling that Psylocke’s not even meant to be telekinetic at the moment (she’s such a mess of a character that even I can’t remember her status with any real confidence), and besides, making energy ropes is more a Green Lantern stunt. There’s a difference between finding a creative use for a character’s powers and just giving her different powers, and this is on the wrong side of the line.
Still, it’s a pretty issue, and a lot of the material with Wolverine and Jubilee is a welcome throwback to a much-loved relationship.