The Revolution found the last issue of X-Men to be just dreadful. It was a poorly written issue that was only further compounded by artwork that was a chaotic mess. Carey continues to demonstrate that he is simply a journeyman writer who is in over his head on one of Marvel’s flagship titles. And Bachalo’s art just makes my head hurt. Is there a chance that X-Men #200 gets me to change my opinion on this title? I doubt it, but I’ll hope for the best. Let’s do this review.
Writer: Mike Carey
Penciler: Chris Bachalo and Humberto Ramos
Inker: Carlos Cuevas and Tim Townsend
Art Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 2.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with some guy named Quiet Bill on a cell phone asking to talk to someone in the Guild. That it is important. He hangs up the phone and then is killed by a long haired mutant.
We cut to Rogue’s team of X-Men arriving at Mystique’s home where Rogue was raised. Of course, rather than have Mystique just deactivate her security system from outside of the house, Rogue blasts them to piece with her new flame powers. We get more tough talk from Rogue and the X-Men split up to different parts of the house.
We shift to Iceman contacting Cyclops and telling him about Rogue’s current condition. Cyclops says that he will bring Emma with him to try and help Rogue with the eight billion minds in her head.
Iceman ends the video feed with Cyclops and Mystique tells Iceman how Rogue has good reason not to trust her and to think of Mystique as her enemy. Mystique babbles on about how everything they have built is now falling down. The Brotherhood, Xavier’s Academy, everything. Iceman then powers down and he and Mystique appear to prepare for sex.
We cut to Providence Island where Cable is sifting through the rubble. Cable activates the Professor. The Professor tells Cable that there is another person on the island.
We shift back to Mystique’s home. Sentinel hooks up to a computer and runs diagnostics on herself. Suddenly, Sentinel gets an incoming message on her computer. She opens it and is suddenly blasted with electrical energy from the computer. Sentinel is then possessed by some being from that message.
We zip to New Orleans where we see two mutants talk into a house and kill an old man.
We cut to Cable being attacked by some unknown assailant. The attacker turns out to be Gambit. And Gambit is now back to normal.
We shift to Mystique’s house where Rogue thinks about her childhood at this house. Cannonball tells Rogue that they will solve her problem and that Cyclops and Emma are here to see her.
We go back to Cable and Gambit brawling with each other. Gambit says that he is not here to fight Cable. That Gambit is just here to ask Cable’s computer a question. Gambit won’t tells Cable what that question is. So, the two begin brawling again. Sunfire then appears on the scene. Sunfire and Gambit begin kicking Cable’s ass.
We slide back to Mystique’s house. Emma enters Rogue’s mind. Emma finds out that the eight billion minds haven’t been integrated and that they are all still separate and terrified. The Beast tells Cyclops that he has isolated the Strain 88 inside of Rogue but he can’t find a drug that will work on it.
Cyclops says that letting Rogue absorb Wolverine’s healing factor is a last ditch effort since they don’t know if Wolverine would survive it. Emma exits Rogue’s mind due to the massive strain that it causes Emma. Emma says that Rogue is going to eventually go insane. Emma says she can try building some psychic flood-walls, but it won’t be easy. Cyclops tells Emma to take a break and gather her strength and then give it a try.
We hop back to Cable heading back to his main computer room for the Professor. Sunfire and Gambit break down the door. Cable tells them that they don’t know what they are doing. What they are going to destroy. Sunfire answers that Cable will die because the door needs to be closed. But, that all of the knowledge that Cable has amassed will serve a great purpose. Cable then activates the Professor’s self-destruct feature and the entire place blows up. It appears that Sunfire and Gambit may have gotten out alive, but I’m pretty sure Cable is dead.
We shift back to Mystique’s house. Mystique tells the X-Men that something has tripped her alarms. That there are multiple movement signatures in the area. That they must be cloaked. Suddenly, Sentinel blasts Emma. Sentinel then reveals that she is actually Malice and that she took over Sentinel’s body through the computer message.
The following sequence appears out of order. Evidently, none of the X-Men see Malice blasting Emma right in front of them. Lady Mastermind then reveals that she is the person who has been cloaking the intruders. Suddenly, all the intruders appear in the room with the X-Men. The intruders are none other than the Marauders.
Everyone starts brawling. Iceman gets shot. Rogue wakes up and flies to the scene of the fight. Rogue rallies the troops and the brawl continues. Mystique then pulls out a gun and shoots Rogue in the back. Mystique then tells the Marauders to kill everyone.
As my head is hurting from that clusterfuck of an ending, we get an Endangered Species back-up story. Beat is in his lab addressing some unknown people who are all off-panel. Beast re-counts the events of the House of M and DeciMation. That the mutants’ DNA has declared war on them. There was no way to restore the abilities of the ex-mutants. Beast also goes through how he has been unable to find a cure.
However, in his quest for a cure the Beast has made many brilliant discoveries. Beast says the thought of some of these discoveries in the hands of the people that he is talking to keeps him awake at night. So he has destroyed those discoveries, but left enough of the other discoveries that would be of an extreme interest to his audience.
The Beast says that they can say yes and get his discoveries or they can say no and he will give them to one of the others. In return, The Beast wants help in finding a cure for the mutants.
We then see a wall of video screens with the individuals that the Beast is trying to bargain with for their help. They consist of Doctor Doom, High Evolutionary, Arnim Zola, Mr. Sinister, Pandemic, Sugar Man, Spiral, and Kavita Rao.
The Good: Sometimes I have The Revolution’s Rule of Positivity. I have no idea what I’m going to find positive about X-Men #200’s main story. Thank god we have the Endangered Species back-up story to give me an easy out. For pretty much the entire back-up story I was rather bored. House of M and DeciMation have been poorly handled by Marvel since they have paid almost no attention to the fallout of these events.
We got the pedestrian Son of M mini-series and then David paid some attention to the fallout of these events on X-Factor. That is about it. Instead, Marvel quickly moved on to Civil War, The Initiative, World War Hulk and whatever Skrull War that we are building up to.
So, the subject matter of Engendered Species doesn’t interest me that much. However, the ending was sweet! Beast attempting to enlist the aid from some of the most notorious evil geniuses was a very cool twist. The idea of Beast working side by side with Dr. Doom is great. I’m curious to see which villains take Beast up on his offer.
I also enjoyed the pin-up art at the end of this issue. They looked great and managed to remind me how cool the X-Men can look when talented artists draw them. Also, even though I don’t think that Ramos is a good match for this title, I did dig his version of Emma Frost.
The Bad: X-Men #200 was a mess. I think you have to be smoking crack and mainlining crystal meth in order to understand what the hell is going on with this title. X-Men #200 has a horrible flow and terrible pacing. The story is overloaded with hyper-kinetic energy that makes you think the writer suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder. The story leaps all around spasmodically without any rhyme or reason. There is no natural and pleasant flow to this story.
It seems that Carey is of the belief that too much is never enough. So, Carey overloads the reader with one over the top scene with another. And many of the scenes lack any internal logic. It seems that Carey is simply trying to shock the reader or do something cool without it actually making sense within the context of the story.
The sudden love making scene between Mystique and Iceman is a great example of this. Mystique babbles on nonsensically about nothing and then she and Iceman get down to doing the nasty. It makes no sense and comes out of left field. And then we see the two characters later in the issue meeting with the rest of the X-Men and acting like nothing happened.
One major problem with Carey’s writing is that he makes the reader feel as if he is missing large parts of the storyline. It is as if parts of the comic book were left out or if the reader missed an issue or two. A good writer wants to build mystery and intrigue into his story in order to keep the reader wondering what is going to happen next. However, Carey fails to do this. Carey simply makes the story a muddled mess with huge gaps in the plot. It is one thing to keep the reader guessing and wondering like Brubaker does and quite another to make the reader feel lost. Carey simply has too many large jumps and gaps in the story and the plot development.
The opening scene also just made me feel like I tuned into the program halfway and failed to get my interest. The interlude scene in New Orleans was poorly done. It made no sense and failed to pique my interest.
The appearance of Sunfire and Gambit was a bit of a mess. They show up blasting away and talking about how a door has to be closed, therefore, Cable must be killed and that Cable’s knowledge will serve them well. Again, it is cool to introduce Gambit and Sunfire on some unknown mission and to tease the reader about it. However, this was scene was too jarring within the context of the rest of the issue. This scene throws too much too fast at the reader and it fails to get my interest.
Brubaker is a master of building a mystery. And he does this by using a measured pace and by steadily feeding the reader various plotlines. On the other hand, Carey moves at warp speed and throws as many new plotlines at the reader all at the same time. Brubaker takes the time to lay a solid foundation for all of his plotlines. Carey forgoes building a sound foundation for his plotlines and just pumps them out at the reader with little thought.
As a result of how Carey introduces this new plotline involving Gambit and Sunfire, I could really care less about what they are up to. And I like Gambit and Sunfire. Now, the fight scene was a mess of a fight scene and I assume that Cable is dead and that Gambit and Sunfire got out alive. I have always found Cable to be a cheesy 1990’s character, so I won’t be sad if he is dead.
I continue to care less about Rogue’s illness. Nothing at all about this plotline even remotely interests me. One main reason that I’m not interested in this plotline is because Carey writes a horrible version of Rogue. Rogue comes across as one-dimensional and as shallow as possible. Her character is painfully underdeveloped. And the only personality that Carey’s Rogue has exhibited is to talk tough like Wolverine. Rogue is a great character. It is too bad Carey has no clue how to write or handle her character. This is about as generic of a version of Rogue that I have seen since she joined the X-Men.
The ending of this issue was such a monstrous mess. It seemed totally disjointed and completely mixed up. It read like either it was out of sequence or it was missing parts of the scene. We go from all the X-Men talking, to Sentinel blasting Emma and then to all the X-Men including Sentinel sitting there like nothing happened and then to the Marauders appearing and the brawl breaking out.
That is possibly one of the worst plotted scenes I have read in a long time. Not only was it poorly constructed and read like a garbled mess, Carey also failed in his desire to shock and surprise the reader. Wow, Lady Mastermind and Mystique turned bad. No shit. They are villains for crying out loud. This didn’t surprise me in the least. This is exactly what I have been waiting for ever since Lady Mastermind and Mystique were put on this team. What would have been odd and surprising would have been for Lady Mastermind and Mystique to actually act heroic.
And the appearance of the Marauders doesn’t do much for me. I have always found them to be a lame bunch of villains. I guess that Mystique, Lady Mastermind, Gambit and Sunfire are all members of this newest incarnation of the Marauders.
Carey’s dialogue varies between being generic, cheesy and downright hackneyed at some points. And, of course, we get plenty of tough talk. Carey has failed to pull off anything that would be even remotely confused with character work or development. Absolutely none of the X-Men have a unique external voice. None of the X-Men have their own distinct personality. All of the X-Men are rather one-dimensional.
Carey chooses the path of mindless action, a blistering fast pace and random plot developments rather than the path of soundly constructed plotlines, a commitment to character development and well crafted dialogue.
The artwork was just terrible. The only thing worse than Bachalo or Ramos on their own is having to have both of them together on the same issue. The muddled and hectic artwork simply serves to make a poorly constructed storyline even more of a confusing and chaotic mess. At times it is hard to tell what in the world is going on in the issue. All though, after seeing their art on the same issue, I now realize that I would prefer Ramos to Bachalo if we have to have manga styled art on this title.
While I think that Bachalo and Ramos would be fine artists for a fantasy based manga, I firmly believe that both artists are a poor fit for the X-Men. This title is one of Marvel’s flagship titles and requires an artist who doesn’t draw as cartoon-ish as Bachalo and Ramos.
Overall: This title is proof positive that Marvel knows that they could let a hamster on acid write and draw this title and it will still get huge sales numbers. Carey has failed to provide any quality writing on X-Men. There has been no attempt to give us well developed characters, nicely crafted dialogue and well plotted, paced and constructed plotlines. Instead, we get style over substance. The reader gets overloaded with enough mindless action to try and make us forget that we aren’t getting any quality writing on this title.
I imagine if you just love fast paced stories with tons of action then you will love the X-Men. Obviously, if you like the manga inspired and cartoon-ish style of Bachalo and Ramos’ artwork then you will certainly like this title. On the other hand, if you enjoy titles like X-Factor then I wouldn’t recommend X-Men.