Endangered Species: X-Men #201 Review

The Revolution continues to be totally and completely unimpressed with Carey’s work on X-Men. It reminds me of some of the terribly written Image titles that flooded the market back in the 1990’s. Tons of hyper kinetic action, tough talk, generic dialogue, one dimensional characters and a flimsy storyline. Maybe Carey can get me to change my opinion with X-Men #201. Let’s hit this review.

Creative Team
Writers: Mike Carey & Chris Yost
Pencilers: Humberto Ramos & Scott Eaton
Inkers: Tim Townsend & Andrew Hennessy

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 Emma Frost assessing the situation. We see the massive brawl between the Marauders and the X-Men. Iceman’s powers are failing on him due to a neural inhibitor in Mystique’s lipstick from when she kissed him. Emma enters Cannonball’s mind and downloads everything she found about the Marauders’ plans to attack other remaining targets.

Emma then controls Cannonball’s body and forces him to grab Iceman and blast off to the Blackbird. Cannonball screams “NO!” and that they can still win this fight. The Blackbird blasts off as the Marauders finish off the remaining X-Men. The Marauders take Rogue, leave the house and then blow up the house in order to make sure that the remaining X-Men are dead. Lady Mastermind points out that two X-Men got away. Mystique replies that “They didn’t get away, Wyngarde. They just chose to die somewhere else.” (*Groan* Cue ominous and evil music. *Bah bah bah buuummmm* Too bad Mystique doesn’t have a handlebar moustache that she can evilly twist while delivering lines like this. Maybe a “Mwah-ha-ha-ha is in order next time. Man, this dialogue is just brutal.)

We cut to the Blackbird where Iceman wakes up and suddenly someone blasts on the Blackbird’s wings. We then hop over to the Xavier Institute. Kitty tells Colossus that they lost contract with Cyclops and the others. Kitty says they need to reset the alarms and watch the kids. Kitty babbles on like an airhead and then we see Blindfold enter the room where Elixir, Pixie, Andle, Dust, Mercury, Hellion and Rockslide are hanging out. Blindfold babbles on nonsensically. Blindfold grabs Elixir and we see flames leap up around them.

We hop back to the Blackbird where Cannonball is fighting with Sunfire. Sunfire tells Cannonball that “I wish I could have met you in battle, X-Men. There would have been more honor to be had.” (Wait, you attacked the Blackbird and are now engaged in a physical confrontation with Cannonball. Last time I checked, that constitutes a battle.)

Iceman jumps from the Blackbird and uses the freezing high altitude air to jumpstart his powers. Iceman feels like the middle of a fight is the appropriate time to ask Cannonball the names on the list of people the Marauders were after. Cannonball says Rogue was at the top of the list and the next person was…And with that we cut to a passed out Blindfold. Elixir tells Pixie to go tell Kitty and Colossus what just happened.

We cut to Kitty talking with Colossus. Colossus is evidently channeling his inner Spock based on the dialogue that Carey gives him. Suddenly, the wall explodes and in walks the Acolytes. Exodus tells the others to deal with the X-Men and retrieve the books, while he does the killing. (Huh? Wait, the other Acolytes deal with the X-Men and retrieve the books, while Exodus kills who? Aren’t the students also considered X-Men? Who else is there to kill?) End of story.

The Endangered Species back-up story has the Beast investigating Neverland. Beast notices that someone else has already searched all of the files and compute databases. Beast imagines that it must have been the colleague that High Evolutionary spoke about. This person seems one step ahead of Beast.

The Beast is overwhelmed with the horrid images of the mutant slaughtering that went on when Neverland was closed down. Beast runs out to the courtyard and begins digging at the ground where the mass graves were located. Suddenly, a voice tells Beast that he was hurt Beast didn’t invite him to join in his fun. The voice says that Beast knows how personal genocide is for them. Beast turns around and sees Dark Beast standing in front of him. End of issue.

The Good: All right, let’s take a quick inventory here. Right now we have the Marauders, Sunfire and Gambit and the Acolytes all on their own mysterious missions. We at least know that the Marauders are looking for some books. Is there a possibility that an interesting storyline is actually going to make an appearance on this title? I’m actually intrigued by what these three groups are up to. Carey actually has an opportunity to hook my interest for the very first time since he took over writing the X-Men.

Carey certainly floods the reader with plenty of fight scenes. If you dig mindless action without the need for a well crafted story then you will definitely enjoy Carey’s X-Men.

Christ Yost gives us a solid Endangered Species back up story. Yost has a good feel for Beast’s character. Eaton also constructs some nice dialogue. Maybe it is just because Carey’s dialogue is so cheesy and poorly written that it just makes Yost look that much better. This back-up story isn’t anything spectacular, but it does give us a cool hook ending. The mysterious colleague is none other than Dark Beast! I love it. I’m definitely interested to see where this storyline goes.

Scott Eaton’s artwork on the Endangered Species back-up story was much appreciated after having to suffer through Ramos’ cartoonish X-Men. It is nice to see how great the X-Men can look when artwork that fits the character of the title is used.

The Bad: X-Men #201 was another loud and chaotic brawl fest with stretches of boring and dull scenes full of poorly delivered dialogue. I like action as much as the next person, but I like my action scenes to be framed within a well developed, complex and intriguing plotline and story arc. Carey has failed to do that with this title.

Instead, we get hyper-kinetic, muddled and hectic fight scenes that completely fail to engage my interest. Part of it may be Carey’s fault in setting up the scenes and part of it may be Ramos’ style of artwork that tends to get rather messy at times.

I try to be objective and really look for the positive in the comic books that I review. And, outside of Daniel Way, I rarely totally dismiss a writer’s efforts across the board on a given title. But, I simply cannot see anyway that Carey’s dialogue can be considered anything even remotely approaching what would be considered well done. Nor can I see anyway at all that Carey’s writing could be seen as performing any type of character development at all.

Carey certainly knows how to deliver plenty of tough talk and that is about it. Carey’s dialogue is stiff, unoriginal and cheesy. None of the characters have their own unique voice. Some of the dialogue is so bad it actually made me groan out loud. It is about on the same level as the dialogue from a Schwarzenegger movie.

All the characters are still painfully flat and one-dimensional. It is quite clear that Carey is not going to perform anything resembling character work or development. I mean there isn’t even a token effort to try and develop any of the characters on this title. Carey’s X-Men is truly the antithesis of David’s X-Factor.

I find Carey’s Kitty way too ditzy for me. Kitty hasn’t been a bubble head like that since she joined the X-Men. I mean it is a stark difference the shallow and ditzy Kitty that Carey gives us and the strong, deep and complex Kitty that Whedon gives us on Astonishing X-Men.

And what is up with Carey’s Colossus? Colossus acts like he is from outer space rather than from Russia. Colossus isn’t a Vulcan. And Colossus didn’t just get off the boat. He has been in America for quite some time. It is striking the difference of Whedon’s well developed Colossus and Carey’s one-dimensional dumb Colossus who acts like he just arrived on planet Earth from planet Vulcan.

And I honestly hope that Carey wasn’t expecting the reader to find Mystique and Lady Mastermind’s heel turns to be huge surprises that would get us all excited. It was painfully predictable and I’ve been waiting for this very moment ever since Mystique and Lady Mastermind first appeared on this title.

I’m still not crazy about Ramos’ art on this title. Don’t get me wrong. Ramos is a talented artist. It is just that X-Men is the wrong title for Ramos. Ramos’ style of art is a bad match for a comic book like the X-Men. Ramos would be much better served performing the art duties for a more youthful and light hearted comic book or for a manga styled action comic book.

Overall: There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Carey’s X-Men is the weakest of all the X-titles that Marvel publishes. David’s X-Factor is the best with some of the best character work, dialogue and subtle plotlines currently on the market. Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men is next with excellent character work, good chemistry and quality action. Then comes Brubaker’s Uncanny X-Men that may be slow and a bit boring at times, but still has solid dialogue and nicely developed characters. I don’t read Exiles or New X-Men, but I can’t imagine that they are worse than Carey’s X-Men.

I would only recommend X-Men if you simply love Carey’s style of writing, are a huge fan of Ramos or are just a massive X-Men fan. If you don’t fall into one of those three categories then save your money on much better done titles like X-Factor.

3 thoughts on “Endangered Species: X-Men #201 Review

  1. I like Ramos more than Bachalo, although this kind of chaotic fight would benefit from clearer art.

    I still think you’re a bit too hard on this title; I enjoy Carey’s take on his characters, for the most part (although, amusingly, he’s now using almost exclusively the casts of other books, since all but two members of his team are dead, unconscious, hijacked, or traitors).

  2. Too bad Mystique doesn’t have a handlebar moustache that she can evilly twist while delivering lines like this.

    Considering she’s a shape-changer, Mystique probably could have a moustache to curl if she really wanted to. Which probably would have been more fun.

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