Age Of X-Man: X-Tremists #4 // Review
Enforcers of a twisted utopia realize that there are things they no longer remember. The world they live in is a lie. Things are about to get ugly in the fourth issue of Age of X-Man: X-Tremists. Writer Leah Williams captures the emotional edge of a faltering dystopia in an issue drawn by Georges Jeanty with inks by Roberto Poggi. Color comes to the page courtesy of Jim Charalampidis. The Age of X-Man has been a strange, little microcosm. There's a mystery, action, and more than a bit of fantasy. Williams' X-Tremists has been solidly rooted in an indie drama sort of a feel that reaches the heaviest point in an issue that gradually builds into promising combustion.
Northstar notices a subtle emotional moment pass between Blob and Psylocke. They clearly have feelings for each other--feelings which would be forbidden by law. When he mentions it in passing to a fellow agent of Department X, it sounds more than a little unlikely. Memories continue to rush back into place for various members of Department X, who all come to a consensus somewhere beyond the viewing of a classic film and rooftop rumination amidst $15,000 bottles of champagne. A few enforcers are upset with the lie that they've been perpetuating. Things are about to change for them in a tremendous way.
Williams' sudden shift to focus on Northstar for much of this issue feels a bit jarring. He'd primarily been in the background of the series thus far. The sudden focus on a character near the margins of the panel fades-out a few pages in as Williams gets inside his head. There's a hauntingly profound moment relatively early on in which Northstar muses to himself about dark fantasies of flying so fast that his body would be annihilated. Williams is casting a glance into some of the darker spaces beyond the utopia in this issue. There's a shadowy appeal to it.
Jeanty and Poggi frame the overall moodiness of the drama without delving too far into its intensity. Even when Northstar shoots out of a room and casually mentions the possibility of suicide by speed alone, there's a kind of sluggish emotionally stagnant visual impact to the scene. Everyone in Department X seems to be suffering from the sort of fatigue that accompanies heavy inking and so much slow shadow-gazing. It has its own kind of appeal, but it lacks the explosiveness needed to really delivery graphic frustration of a group of people who have been living a lie that they've been forced to pass on to an unsuspecting population. Jeanty and Poggi frame the drama with a steady stoicism. It's all quite sharply delivered, but there isn't the kind of impact that an issue like this deserves.
It's strange pacing that sees a group of people sullenly dragging themselves through the ongoing frustration of perpetuating a false world. The significant shift at the end of the issue has been foreshadowed ever since the first issue, but the sudden change at issue's end still manages to hold an emotional impact leading up to the end of the Age of X-Man.