Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014
by Paul in x-axis
Hanging over Brian Bendis’ X-Men run is the spectre of his Avengers run, in which a bunch of seemingly disparate plot threads ultimately turned out, after several years, not to even gesture vaguely in the direction of coming together.
His X-Men stories have generally done a rather better job of giving the impression that there’s a coherent plan to it all, even if it does often seem like one that could speed up a bit. But every so often you have to wonder.
The basic plot of this issue sees the trainee X-Men dumped in Tabula Rasa and left to fend for themselves as some sort of vaguely-defined survival test. Didn’t we just do this story in Wolverine and the X-Men a few months back? At any rate, it’s an issue of everyone getting chased around rather randomly by monsters. Large casts and action sequences do not play to Bendis’ strengths in the slightest, and the result is an issue as shapeless as you’d probably expect. Ultimately there are two main takeaways: something happens to Eva off panel that she won’t talk about, and Hijack is kicked out of the team after he turns out to have a mobile phone on him, which naturally leads SHIELD to trace him as soon as he turns it on.
Chris Bachalo seems to be having some fun drawing crazy monsters and odd plants in the backgrounds, though he undermines a lot of the effect with some very muted colouring that largely relegates the backgrounds to single colours.
At any rate… Hijack’s story arc, thus far, is that he gets a big build up over a couple of issues as a guy with machine-control powers, he joins the team, he kind of hangs around as yet another face in the crowd, and then he does something silly and abruptly gets booted out. It’s not desperately satisfying, but it could work as the first phase in a longer-term plan. And to be fair, the suddenness of the ending is played up in the scene itself, so it’s presumably meant to come across as a wonky ending. All of which would imply that we’re likely to see him again at some point.
And yet, and yet… this sort of pointless shuffling of characters in and out of the cast was one of the more notably clumsy features of Bendis’ Avengers run. What was the point of adding Daredevil or Storm to that team, for example, only for both characters to vanish almost instantly? By all appearances, there was no point whatsoever in either case, yet it happened nonetheless. So do I put it past Bendis to just pointlessly shuffle underdeveloped characters in and out of the cast? No, I don’t, which rather colours my reaction to this issue. All logic tells me that this is probably a step in a bigger picture… but Bendis’ track record doesn’t inspire total confidence.