Age of X-Man: Prisoner X #3 // Review
A prison for super-powered mini-gods rests inside a twisted, little utopia. The prison Bishop and his cohorts find themselves in consists of much more than bars as they are all beginning to understand in the third issue of Age of X-Man: Prisoner X. Writer Vita Ayala carefully navigates the story towards a significant revelation with impressively precise art by Argentinian artist Germán Peralta. Colors come to top the page courtesy of Mike Spicer. A prison-based tale that had been gradually increasing in intensity begins to combust as prisoners start to shrug off their shackles in a satisfying superhuman action drama.
Though he rests at the center of a mutant ensemble, defrocked X-Men team member Bishop is scarcely seen in the third issue of the series. The entire chapter is seen from his perspective as he speaks through caption boxes that accompany dramatic memories of a world that only seems to exist in a dream. The wise beast Hank McCoy is struggling to make some sense of memories flooded with rage. A straightjacketed mistress of magnetism has a chance encounter with a couple of keys, and then all hell breaks loose. The pages draw ever-closer to their narrator, who has realized something about life inside the prison...and it turns out that he might not be the character the title of the mini-series is referring to.
Ayala has done an outstanding job of constructing a life in the closed system of prison for superhuman mutants. In this third issue, various threads that have been revealed in the first two issues begin to cross each other in an exciting entanglement. While not all of what’s shown here necessarily adds to the central plot in any kind of a compelling way, the mood and atmosphere of the series are smartly-rendered in words and images. Ayala not only gives the text a captivating gravity--he’s also pointing the art in a direction that keeps the text from overpowering the visuals.
Peralta’s art feels a bit weak in the early part of the issue as it primarily focuses on a character who hasn’t had a hell of a lot of play in the first couple of chapters. Once the story shifts to more familiar territory with McCoy, Polaris and the horror of the past, Peralta really has a chance to dive into a stylish depth that mixes explosive action with dense moments of static drama. Spicer’s colors cast vibrant colors of energy and anger lashing out of screams and sound effects. These contrast against the sterile grays and dull greens of the prison atmosphere. It’s a very appealing contrast.
It’s a smart issue. Ayala and Peralta manage to keep Bishop’s presence at the center of the book even though he doesn’t physically appear in the comic book until the penultimate page. He’s only seen for two whole panels, but the reader sees everything through his conceptual perspective. It’s a very deft narrative construction. Quite an accomplishment.