X-Men #188 unveils a new creative team. Mike Carey takes over the writing duties and Chris Bachalo assumes the art duties. Honestly, I don’t have particularly high expectations for this new creative team. I don’t think that either Carey or Bachalo are all that impressive in their respective fields. I think that this new creative team will continue the trend of average issues that have plagued this title for a very long time. Let’s hit the review.
Writer: Mike Carey
Penciler: Chris Bachalo
Inkers: Tim Townsend & Jaime Mendoza
Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: This issue starts with Sabertooth entering a small bar in Nogales, Mexico. Sabertooth is uncharacteristically beat up. Sabertooth meets with a man named Tomas and picks up a bag with some unknown contents and gets his route out of Mexico.
We then cut to Rogue, Cyclops and White Witch in a big brawl with some armed soldiers at a laboratory that is conducting tests on mutants. Rogue takes out the soldiers and Cannonball and Icemen free the mutants being tested on. The tests are trying to see if a human can catch mutation like it is a disease.
We then shift back to the bar in Mexico. Two strange mutants who are invisible enter the bar and confirm that Sabertooth was there. They then “sanitize” the area by blowing it up save one girl who was spared to be their messenger.
We zip back to the Xavier Institute where the mutant test subjects freed from the lab are being wheeled to the Beast’s lab. Professor X tells Cyclops that Rogue acted recklessly and caused injuries to the soldiers. Cyclops tells Professor X that Rogue acted wonderfully amid great pressure in battle.
We then shift to the Mexico/U.S. border. Sabertooth is attacked by a manga styled girl and a guy named Fuego. Sabertooth asks what they did to him. He asks why he can no longer heal himself. Sabertooth then manages to escape the two attackers.
We cut back to Beast studying one of the mutants from the lab. Her name is Karima Shapandar and is one of Bastion’s Omega Sentinels. Cyclops tells Rogue that he was impressed by her during the mission and he wants her to lead a Rapid Response Unit for the X-Men. Rogue gets the right to choose her team. Rogue picks Cannonball, Iceman and Mystique.
Suddenly, Sabertooth appears on the Xavier Institute’s grounds. Sabertooth has a young girl hostage and tells the Sentinels to back off or he will cut her. Cannonball and Iceman take out Sabertooth. Sabertooth exclaims that he isn’t here to fight. He says that the Xavier Institute is being billed as a safe haven for mutants and that he is asking for Sanctuary.
We shift back to Nogales, Mexico where the girl who survived the explosion at the beginning is being interviewed by reporters. The girl says that the X-Men were the cause of the massive explosion. End of issue.
The Good: X-Men #188 carries on the longstanding tradition of average issues for this title. X-Men #188 wasn’t terrible, but it certainly wasn’t anything particularly interesting. I am glad that characters like Iceman and Cannonball are going to be used in this new team. Iceman has been around for a while, but he never seems to get much attention. I hope that changes. Cannonball is a very underused and underdeveloped characters who has plenty of potential.
The Bad: Mike Carey turns out an average story. It isn’t horrid. It is simply the kind of story where you find yourself yawning and wondering what comic book you are going to read next. You find yourself not terribly interested in the characters or the storyline. And worst of all, you have no desire or urge to immediately want to read the next issue. Whenever a comic book fails to hook me at the end and make me want to read the next issue immediately, then that is a bad sign.
First, I am just not interested in the characters that Carey has decided to use for his team. I’m not a big fan of Rogue, Cable or Cannonball. I have never liked the idea of Mystique being a part of the X-Men. And I definitely abhor the idea of Sabertooth having anything to do with being an X-Men in any what shape or form. Iceman is the only member that I like and even then he has never been one of my favorites. So, it puts Carey at a disadvantage with me when he chooses characters that I find to be some of the less interesting ones that the X-men family has to offer.
I’m also not impressed with the way that Carey writes the characters. They all come across like overly aggressive ass-kickers. And between Sabertooth, Cannonball and Rogue they all talk the same. Southern twanging butt kicking testosterone laden talk. It is too much. Not everyone can be Wolverine. And with Sabertooth, Cannonball, Rogue, Mystique and Cable we now have 5 “Wolverine” overly aggressive characters. That leaves Iceman as the only different style character. And, since Carey is writing Cannonball and Rogue with a new found cockiness and aggressive attitudes, then I’m sure Iceman will get the same personality transplant.
Successful team books rely on combining members with different personalities to create compelling storylines. However, we have two ex-villains in Mystique and Sabertooth. 3 tough guy characters in Cable, Rogue and Cannonball. And Iceman. That just doesn’t work. I don’t think there was any chemistry at all between the characters in this issue. I wasn’t particularly interested by the characters in this issue.
Carey also delivers some pedestrian dialogue. Much of it reads like your standard issue comic book dialogue. Most of the characters all read the same. Nobody really seems to have much of a unique voice. The lack of individual voices makes the dialogue a bit boring to read.
I’m also not interested in the general storyline that Carey is delivering. Sabertooth is on the run from an unknown group of mutants. Snore. The unknown group of mutants have somehow taken away his healing powers. Zzzzz. That Rogue is going to head up and lead a rapid response unit to handle groups like the group conducting the tests in this issue. Meh. There was nothing in this new storyline that really got my interested or that seemed new and different.
I’m just not impressed by Chris Bachalo’s artwork. It looks rushed and sloppy. The anatomy and proportions of the characters are just terrible. Bachalo must have gone to the Rob Liefeld school of art on how to draw feet. The facial expressions all static and poorly done. It is so bad at some points that Sabertooth’s face is drawn like the Beast’s face with a muzzle in one panel and then back to his regular human face in the next panel. And I can’t stand Bachalo’s Iceman. He looks like an icy version of Impossible Man. The goofy shaped head and the pointy nose make him look like an ice elf. Overall, Bachalo’s art gives X-Men a very confusing and weak appearance and does nothing to help bolster an average story.
Overall: X-Men #188 was the opposite of Uncanny X-Men #475. Brubaker managed to create an interesting storyline. Plus, Brubaker crafted excellent dialogue and gave each character their own unique voice. Brubaker focused on character development and a strong foundation with a clear direction and focus on where he want to go with his story. Carey seems unfocused with no real direction in his first issue. Also, Billy Tan delivers artwork on Uncanny X-Men that is much better than what Bachalo delivers in X-Men #188.
If you are a big fan of Carey or Bachalo then you will love this new direction unveiled in X-Men #188. If you are a huge fan of the characters on this team then you will probably enjoy this title. Personally, I found this to be yet another average issue in an extremely long line of average issues that have plagued this title for a long time.