X-Men #189 Review

The Revolution was not all that impressed with Carey and Bachalo’s debut issue. It was not bad, it simply wasn’t anything great. Plus, I felt that they didn’t turn in an issue as well done as the team of Brubaker and Tan over on Uncanny X-Men. Can Carey and Bachalo get me to change my opinion? Well, I just don’t like Bachalo’s style of art, so I imagine that isn’t going to ever change. However, there is a chance that Carey can craft a storyline that grabs my attention and interest. It has been a boiling hot day here at the Bunker, so let’s get my mind of it by doing this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Mike Carey
Penciler: Chris Bachalo
Inkers: Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza and many more.

Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: This issue starts with two scientists at a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility in Alaska are endeavoring to undo the Hand’s brainwashing of Northstar. Suddenly, the Children break into the lab. The Children include Fuego (Fire), Sangre (Blood), Perro (Dog), Aguja (Needle) and Serafina. The Children take out the scientists and Serafina is instructed to take care of Northstar. Serafina interfaces with the machine that Northstar’s brain is hooked up to. Serafina appears in Northstar’s mind as an angel. She says she has come to raise him up so that he may lay waste to his enemies.

We cut to the Xavier Institute, where Rogue, Iceman and White Witch are questioning Sabertooth. They try to act like bad cops and goad Sabertooth into losing his temper. This would make his psychic shield weaken so White Witch could read his mind. Their efforts fail. The three X-Men leave the Sabertooth’s cell. Emma says she could sense that Sabertooth had been in Nogales, but he wasn’t present for the explosion that took out a city block. Emma said she could sense pain, exhaustion and fear in Sabertooth and that his healing factor has been slowed by about 90%.

We cut back to the Children in the S.H.I.E.L.D. facility. Serafina says that Northstar is ready. They can use Northstar to kill Sabertooth and along the way he gets to kill his former comrades, too. That the Hand filled him with hate and that all he needed was the motive.

We cut back to the Xavier Institute. Professor X is meeting with Val Cooper. Val says that O.N.E. wants to know if the X-Men had anything to do with the explosion in Nogales. Professor X responds that his students cannot leave without the Sentinels knowing so they couldn’t possibly have anything to do with Nogales. Professor X then refuses to allow O.N.E. to question Sabertooth. Val gets angry with Professor X’s attitude and storms out of his office. Professor X then transforms into Mystique. (Oh, that crafty minx.)

We then shift to deep space where a Shi’ar scout ship just registered a man sized object flying past them. (That would be Vulcan.) The scout ship then detects a very large object moving in the opposite direction towards the scout ship and Earth. (Annihilation forces?) The scout ship is then blown up by the large object.

We then hop over to Aurora’s apartment. Aurora is busy having a discussion with the different voices in her head. She puts a gun to her head and then pulls the trigger. Suddenly Northstar bolts into the room and grabs the bullet. Northstar tells Aurora that it is not her time to die. That this is her day of rebirth.

We cut back over to the Children in their headquarters in the Camara Roja Vault. Sangre comments to Aguja that they are engaged in a survival of the fittest species. That they must make sure that the humans and mutants lose. (Cool. So, the Children are a different species from human and mutant.)

We shift to Xavier Institute where we see Karima Shapandar regaining consciousness. The Beast and Rogue inform her that they recovered her from the Fordyce Clinic where they had her partially dismantled. Rogue mentions that the name “Pan” was mentioned and if that meant anything to Shapandar. Shapandar said it didn’t. Shapandar said that she has been out of it for the last three months, so she has no idea if she had been in Nogales recently. Wolverine then enters the room and asks Rogue to come talk to him. Wolverine wants to know why she didn’t tell him that she was keeping Sabertooth at the Institute and questioning him. Wolverine doesn’t think that Rogue can handle Sabertooth. Rogue isn’t impressed by Wolverine’s dramatic attitude.

We then see Perro and Serafina just outside the Xavier Institute’s grounds. They have Northstar and Aurora with them. Serafina mentions that she has altered some of their DNA and has repaired some of the grosser breaches in Aurora’s mind. Then Serafina steals them some extra power to shift the odds a little. Suddenly there is an eclipse of the sun. Northstar and Aurora then are unleashed on the X-Men. We see the siblings bust through the side of the mansion. Iceman and Cannonball are shocked to see Northstar alive. Northstar and Aurora then join hands and blast Iceman through the chest.

The Good: Wow. X-Men #189 was a much better issue than Carey’s debut issue! This was a pretty interesting story. First, I love the Children. These are some great characters! I have never heard of them before. I cannot wait to learn more about the Children. They have cool names, fascinating powers and are visually interesting. The opening scene was cool. We are finally addressing Northstar’s situation. We haven’t heard much from his since he appeared in Wolverine as a reprogrammed killer for the Hand. I’m glad we are finally spending some time dealing with Northstar and I am interested to see what Carey does with the character. I don’t know which I would like more. Northstar being turned into a monster villain or Northstar being saved and being reborn as a hero with either the X-Men or a new version of Alpha Flight.

Plus, we learn about the Children’s plan. They are going to use Northstar to kill Sabertooth and the X-Men. I am curious to see what in the world is the connection between Sabertooth and the Children.

Then later in the issue, Carey drops a bomb on us by having Sangre reveal that they are engaged in a bitter battle of rival species. And that their objective is that both the mutants and the humans lose to their species. So now we have another species worked into the already volatile mix of mutants and humans. Marvel has various different species of man: humans, mutants, Inhumans, eternals and deviants. Now we have a new species. I’m very curious to see what they are and how they fit into the landscape of the Marvel Universe.

The Shi’ar scout ship scene was interesting. The human that flew past them was Vulcan and that ties in Brubaker’s storyline over in Uncanny X-Men. The large object headed toward Earth with energy so faint that it can barely be sensed but extends across a vast distance? I don’t know. At first I thought maybe something to do with Annihilation. But, I doubt that. Maybe the Phoenix force? Probably not. This was a nice teaser scene. I’m very curious to learn more about this plotline.

I liked the reunion scene between Aurora and Northstar. I liked the brother-sister team back in the days of the old Alpha Flight. Their matching black and white costumes create a nice visual. I’m glad that these two characters are together again.

The final scene was great. Serafina unleashes Northstar and Aurora on the unsuspecting X-Men. And then we get the final shot of Northstar and Aurora blasting Iceman. It looks like Bobby may be lucky to survive such a blast. That was a great ending. A very dramatic moment that hooks the reader and makes him eagerly await the next issue. It certainly worked on me. We should be in store for a exciting fracas next issue.

The Bad: There were only three scenes that I found uninteresting. The scene with Sabertooth wasn’t all that interesting. Nor was the scene with Mystique impersonating Professor X, the scene with Karim Shapandar or the scene between Rogue and Wolverine.

It isn’t that these scenes are poorly written. No, it is because I have little to no interest in the characters those scenes centered on. I find Sabertooth to be a very boring character. A poor man’s Wolverine. Mystique as a hero doesn’t interest me in the least. She has got to always be a villain. And I have never thought much of Karim Shapandar’s character. And even though Rogue has been with the X-Men for a long time, I never warmed up to her character.

And this leads me to my only real complaint with Carey’s X-Men. He simply has loaded up on characters that I have zero interest in. Sabertooth, Rogue, Cable, Shapandar and Cannonball are all characters that have never appealed to me. Mystique only appeals to me as a villain. So, that puts me at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to Carey’s X-Men. His writing is solid. This issue presents the reader with several interesting plotlines. However, my lack of interest in many of the characters Carey has assembled hurts some of my excitement over this comic.

Johns got me to like Kid Flash, Kid Devil and Ravager. Brubaker got me to like Captain America. It is possible for talented writers to make me change my opinion on a character that I never had an interest in before. Can Carey do this on X-Men? That remains to be seen.

Bachalo’s artwork does nothing for me. His anatomy is rather poor. He lacks consistency from panel to panel when it comes to the faces of the various characters. Plus, most of the characters all appear to have the same base face with either different colored hair or facial hair in order to differentiate them from each other.

Overall: X-Men #189 was a much better issue than Carey’s debut issue. While I’m not crazy about Bachalo’s artwork, it doesn’t turn me off from the title. Carey serves up a much more interesting and well paced issue. Story wise, this is the best that X-Men has been in quite some time. This is definitely a good jumping on point for new readers.