X-Men Blue #26: Cry Havok Part 4 // Review
With most of Magneto’s X-Men team stranded in space, a new team has taken the mantle to protect the Earth. But can they?
Writer Cullen Bunn continues to add to the ever-expanding X-Men universe with the latest chapter of X-Men Blue, issue 26. R.B. Silva, Adriano Di Benedetto, and Rain Beredo make up the art team for this volume, and the story is all the better for it. However, placing it in continuity is a headache, like most X-books have been for years.
Continuing after a brief time skip from last issue, the time-stranded original X-Men (and Venom) are still stuck in space. With Jean having been absorbed by the Poisons in the recent Venom crossover, the X-Men and Venom tried to return to Earth and warn everyone. With Danger now disabled in space, Hank McCoy leads the repairs while Scott is remarkably introspective.
Back on Earth itself, though, chaos reigns. A secret cabal of Havok, Emma Frost, Miss Sinister, and Bastion have decided to force evolution on Mankind through the distribution of a substance known as Mothervine. Several panels show it being spread through several US cities, with people mutating like Inhumans exposed to the old Terragen clouds that used to drift around. The effects are even similarly disfiguring and random, with even previously depowered mutants like Beak being forced into a variant of their old powers.
Of course, old habits die hard for civilians in the Marvel Universe, and groups of them begin to gang up on “the muties.” As if this wasn’t enough, Sentinels also land nearby. These Sentinels are somehow here for counseling those newly-created Mutants through the Mothervine, advising that they remain calm and all will be well. They’re quickly interrupted by the newest version of the Blue Team.
Polaris leads this new group, doing it as a favor for her on-again-off-again father. Jimmy Hudson and Bloodstorm, X-Men from other realities, remain on this team without a place of their own to belong. They are also joined by a Xorn, Wolverine’s son Daken, and the blind ninja Gazing Nightshade. As this is a lineup that would also belong to an X-Force book, the Sentinels are shredded incredibly fast in a great action sequence that gives everyone a chance to shine.
However, Unuscione (a former acolyte of Magneto) has been dosed with Mothervine as well. As she already has powers, her mutant abilities gain a second mutation under Mothervine and threaten to rip her apart. The other new mutants exposed to Mothervine are similarly losing control, and slowly become increasingly disturbed (and disturbing). Polaris starts to drag in the team’s jet, only for it to be ripped asunder.
This time, the threat comes from a combination of Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and Mutant Liberation Front alumni, all working for Havok and his plans.
Unfortunately, the story doesn’t remain there. Instead, the plot transitions over to Havok’s cabal of evil Mutants. Havok is satisfied that Mothervine is working, which should make Mutants the dominant life on Earth. Bastion, a mutant-hating Sentinel is also happy, since his prey will no longer be endangered. Miss Sinister is incredibly pleased, as she will soon control everyone… and this exposition makes Emma now have second thoughts. Havok doesn’t care anymore, and Miss Sinister decides to ramp up to stage two.
Back in Madripoor, Magento has been taking care of the earliest mutants exposed to Mothervine. After an explosion, he now finds himself surrounded by the new Marauders… and mind-controlled victims of Mothervine.
This book is all over the place, and it delivers some really mixed results. Bunn and his art team certainly have a plan for this story, but it feels like a line-wide X-event reduced to a single book. It’s a refreshing change from those company-mandated crossovers that feel like a single story forced out of perspective (like DC’s Flashpoint), but feels really forced in that none of the other X-books will ever comment on what’s happening. It’s also nice to see what happened with the X-Men and Venom after their crossover ended, but with the Venomized miniseries running weekly at this time, it really makes it hard to place exactly when anything currently happens.
As for the new lineup, this first experience on the field is actually really cool. Everyone is some sort of combat veteran in the Marvel Universe, and Bunn makes sure everyone gets their chance to shine. Special mention has to go to Daken, who has really been improving as a character since pulling a face turn in the Wolverines series a few years back, and it is still great to see Bloodstorm, the Vampire Storm from the old Mutant X series as part of the team. However, one wonders if Marvel’s idea for new characters is taking the old character and changing them, rather than making anyone new. Looking at you, Old Man Logan, Jimmy Hudson, Agent Anti-Venom, and Honey Badger.
Not that this is a bad thing when it’s done well, mind you.
The art is also excellent. Silva’s pencils are perfect, highly detailed, and make the characters feel somewhat fleshed out beyond their histories. Daken’s body language especially stands out, showing depth to the character that wasn’t part of his character originally. Emma’s facial expressions during her time of doubt are also worthy of a special mention, actually telling her emotions without needing dialogue.
While the storyline of Cry Havok has been a chaotic mess, the end result has been incredibly entertaining so far. This new X-Team has some interesting histories and fantastic drama potential, though it remains to be seen if this team sticks around once the chaos is over. This is one of those comics that will probably read better collected, but, in a single issue, it reads like a big blockbuster movie trying to be clever: big, dumb action scenes with big, dumb plotting that actually leaves the reader wondering what might happen next.