When it comes to the main X-Men series Gerry Duggan has been delivering a lot of solid stories. Duggan has gotten the hang of telling one-shot style adventures while building a grander narrative involving Orchis planning against Krakoa. The X-Men for their part have shown that they are serious about returning to the superhero game. Even with things almost turning against them to the point Cyclops had to fake his death and become Captain Krakoa, the X-Men as superheroes has been a major focal point. Now with the AXE: Judgment Day right around the corner how will the X-Men prepare for the upcoming event? Let’s find out with X-Men #11.
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Colorist: Marte Gracia
After getting a tip from Rocket Raccoon about Gameworld’s dealings Jean Grey, Rogue, Lorna Dane, and Laura Kinney go to the gambling world to investigate. The four split up to investigate different parts of Gameworld.
Laura gets caught by some security guards who give Cordyceps Jones an opening to take over Laura.
After Lorna discovers the slave labor part of Gameworld she uses her powers to cause some of the gambling machines to break.
This gives Jean the opportunity to head to the high roller’s table where she warns everyone that Earth is not theirs to use for gambling. Jean then calls out Cordyceps Jones. Cordyceps Jones appears with his guards and a mind controlled Laura to surprise attack Jean.
Back on Earth while Sunfire distracts Iron Man and Captain Marvel, Captain Krakoa and Synch investigate leads on Orchis and Dr. Stasis. Synch runs into one of Dr. Stasis experiments and makes quick work of him by using Wolverine’s powers.
Meanwhile, Captain Krakoa finds Dr. Stasis. With his special helmet Dr. Stasis gets Cyclops to drop his Captain Krakoa disguise. Cyclops and Dr. Stasis then fight with Cyclops being able to land a powerful headshot that destroys Dr. Stasis’ helmet. Cyclops is stunned to discover Dr. Stasis looks exactly like Mr. Sinister. End of issue.
There are times there will be a twist ending that when you see it you think to yourself “Why didn’t I see that coming?” That is the exact feeling that X-Men #11 gave me with the Dr. Stasis/Mr. Sinister twist to conclude this issue.
Credit to Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz for doing such a great job with the build. There are so many elements about Dr. Stasis in X-Men #11 alone that when reading the issue a second time you get Mr. Sinister vibes from the villain. Its something that got me to immediately get the other 10 issues of X-Men ready to do a full read through of the comics in this series thus far. That is the mark of a strong twist ending that I have to applaud Duggan and Larraz for.
In the lead up to that Duggan and Larraz do a great job at making Cyclops a badass leader. Even when Dr. Stasis calls Cyclops out on his Captain Krakoa disguise Scott is not thrown off. Cyclops is well aware of the importance of the mission at hand, which is to take down Dr. Stasis. The fight is also well choreographed by Larraz to showcase how Cyclops fighting skills aren’t just centered around his optic blasts.
Now I know that I started this review talking about the ending of X-Men #11. Working backwards a bit, the other major standout for X-Men #11 is the continued team concept around everything that takes place. Even though the X-Men are split up on different missions there is a sense that they are all working together in a way. With the X-Men on Earth, Sunfire provided an important defense against the Avengers questioning while Cyclops and Synch could sneak off underground to do their investigation. Meanwhile on Gameworld, Jean, Rogue, Lorna, and Laura each used their own skills in investigations to find more information. It was all aimed at working together as a team which is what continues to make this current X-Men series so much fun.
Speaking of the Gameworld adventure, Jean Grey was by far the star of this. From the beginning Duggan establishes how Jean is the leader of the squad. Larraz does such a good job with having Jean carry herself as the leader throughout the issue with her presentation. It added so much to when Duggan took this opportunity to finally do away with the Marvel Girl name and have her now simply go by Jean Grey. The way she did it by intimidating high rollers on Gameworld was a badass move.
This moment also led in well to how Cordyceps Jones was built up as a formidable villain. X-Men #11 solidifies why Cordyceps Jones has so much power with Gameworld. Seeing how he gained control of Wolverine made the possibility of Jean falling under his control something you are concerned about. How Polaris and Rogue deal with this is hopefully something that allows them to shine in the next issue as they took a bit of a backseat in this issue.
The only thing that did not work in X-Men #11 was Mojo’s appearance. Mojo was absolutely not needed in this story whatsoever. He added nothing to how Gameworld is being presented. The only thing Mojo’s appearance did was take away valuable page count that could’ve been used for more character development for Sunfire, Synch, Rogue, or Polaris.
X-Men #11 hits in all the ways you want a big team book to hit. Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz created multiple storylines for different characters that you are all equally invested in. The twist ending of X-Men #11 got me even more excited for the future of not just this series but the X-Men franchise as whole. What comes next is anyone’s guess.
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10