Two issues in Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz have done a good job reestablishing the X-Men as a superhero team within the Marvel Universe. We’ve seen them do what we expect from the top superhero teams by defeating major threats that have shown up on Earth. While they are enjoying this early success there are many threats that are growing from the shadows that the X-Men do not even know exist. Will these threats start to show themselves? Let’s find out with X-Men #3.
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Colorist: Marte Garcia
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: The X-Men arrive in Da Nang, Vietnam and are contacted by S.W.O.R.D. Station One Station Commander Abigail Brand to tell the team about the High Evolutionary near arrival to their location.
The High Evolutionary arrives from his ship with his crew. The High Evolutionary announces he has shown up to commemorate Arakko’s birth as it caused unexpected dominos to fall in place.
Luminous (the High Evolutionary’s daughter) then presents the X-Men with a nihility sphere as a gift. Rogue turns down that gift. The High Evolutionary says the X-Men must accept the gift to help humanity at least have pleasant final days as climate change impacts Earth by allowing the virus in the nihility sphere to sterilize humanity, just like how he helped Rogue in the past.
Hearing this a pissed off Rogue punches the High Evolutionary so hard that a creator is created when he hits the ground. Polaris follows this up by attacking Luminous and High Evolutionary’s other followers. Seeing this the High Evolutionary, having recovered from Rogue’s punch, calls on his Evolutionary Guard to attack.
The X-Men and Evolutionary Guard begin fighting. While the rest of the X-Men fight the Evolutionary Guard, Jean Grey uses her powers to stop the nihility sphere in order to stop the release of the virus inside. Synch establishes a connection to Sunfire so he can use his powers so they can both burn out the virus in case it hits the wind.
Synch and Sunfire team up to launch a massive fire attack on High Evolutionary that burns off his skin. The High Evolutionary’s healing factor allows him to quickly recover. The High Evolutionary then grabs and chokes out Sunfire to the point of unconsciousness and then tosses him to the ground. Synch flies quickly to catch Sunfire before he hits the ground. Synch then contacts the rest of the X-Men for back up.
The rest of the X-Men continue to fight the Evolutionary Guard. Luminous breaks off from the fight to go attack Jean Grey to get the virus released. Polaris quickly stops Luminous with an energy sphere. Luminous breaks out of the sphere.
Jean Grey fortifies her defenses to keep the Evolutionary Guard away from her. She then contacts Cyclops to have the team focus on keeping the High Evolutionary and Luminous away since those two are the strongest people they are fighting.
Luminous uses her powers to overwhelm the other X-Men. Seeing this Synch uses his powers to take on Luminous powers and quickly knocks her out. Synch then demands High Evolutionary to call off his squad or face his wrath.
The High Evolutionary shows no concern as he nullifies Synch’s power. High Evolutionary says he will withdraw and take his gift back but in return he wants some of Synch’s blood.
Wolverine quickly gets in between them and gets ready to fight High Evolutionary. Synch says he is okay with this as it will put an end to the fighting. Synch then has Wolverine make a small cut in his finger and tosses one drop of his blood to High Evolutionary.
Jean Grey appears and asks High Evolutionary if Cordyceps Jones is one of the dominos that he mentioned earlier. High Evolutionary says it is and tells the X-Men Cordyceps Jones can be found on Gameworld.
With the High Evolutionary and his squad flying away somewhere into space the people Da Nang ask the X-Men, thinking they are the Avengers, to stay to celebrate their victory and saving the town.
At a restaurant in Da Nang while the rest of the X-Men party with the people of the town Cyclops and Jean talk about how High Evolutionary likely dropped his guard on purpose. Jean says this was done so that the X-Men understood that the Mind Reaver and Annihilation Wave attacks were both blowback for Arakko.
Jean suggests they split up the team in two so one squad can maintain the X-Men name on Earth while the other goes to Gameworld. They then have a mental game of rock-paper-scissors to see who goes to Gameworld. Jean ends up winning the game.
Elsewhere, Henry Gyrich asks Feilong to continue his work on terraforming Mars. Feilong reveals he knows about Orchis and demands a seat as one of the leaders of the organization when his mission on Arakko is successful.
Over in Coney Island Ben Urich meets with Dr. Stasis who gives Ben a special file. The file includes proof that the X-Men died and are resurrecting mutants (as seen in House of X #4 and House Of X #5). Dr. Stasis says he looks forward to reading Ben’s story in the Daily Bugle soon. End of issue.
The Good: With each of this X-Men series Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz are doing a better job at refining the one-shot nature of stories they are presenting. At the same time, we get more hints at the bigger, long-term story that this series is building towards. And X-Men #3 is no different as the X-Men fight with the High Evolutionary leads to some big developments.
Capturing a grand sense of scale with this fight against the High Evolutionary is what X-Men #3 does best. Duggan and Larraz present the High Evolutionary and his crew as a big deal from the moment they appear on screen, both in the writing and artwork. There is an immediate tone set that the X-Men are going to be involved in a big fight to defend the Earth. Which is exactly what should be the thought process a reader should perceive with one of Marvel’s big team books.
What I particularly enjoyed about this story was how Duggan captured the supreme confidence High Evolutionary has with his manner of speaking. Everything he says comes is something that you want to see him get punched for. The way he speaks to both Rogue and Synch, in particular, at different points in X-Men #3 best showcases this part of the character.
The fight with High Evolutionary’s crew once again spotlighted how the X-Men work as a team. Every member got some moment to show what they bring to the fight. Continuing to present each member as a heavy hitter. Synch was the one who stood out most as Duggan continues to position him as the heaviest hitter on the team with how he is growing to maximize his power and work with his teammates. Given that the rest of the X-Men are more established characters showcasing how Synch is on the same level with the others is important as the rookie on the team.
X-Men #3 also does a good job at further developing how Scott Summers and Jean Grey work as co-leaders on the team. While Cyclops is the field leader Jean is there to make sure everyone stays in constant communication while also helping to figure out a plan to defeat the High Evolutionary. The two discussing how it would be best to split up the team so they can deal with everything that is going on from two fronts highlights how Scott and Jean are sharing the leadership responsibilities with trust in each other.
While the X-Men are able to deal with the High Evolutionary for now it was interesting to see no definitive conclusion. The ending of the fight sets the High Evolutionary and his crew up to be even bigger threats in the future now that the High Evolutionary has a sample of Synch’s blood. It brings to question what long-term plans High Evolutionary has for dealing with everything going on in the X-Men franchise. Which turns him into a villain to keep an eye out for in not just this series but one of the other X-Men family titles like S.W.O.R.D.
Speaking on threats, Duggan continues to slowly progress the greater plans around Orchis. With X-Men #3 he brings two villains he has been setting up in this series in Feilong and Henry Gyrich together. Quickly bringing Feilong into what Orchis is planning further strengthens the position the organization to match or surpass what Krakoa is doing. Doing things from the shadows by having Feilong be positioned as a front facing threat the X-Men will have to deal with creates even more intrigue into whatever Orchis is planning.
It also looks like between the events at the end of X-Men #3 and The Trial of Magneto that Krakoa’s resurrection protocol is going to become public. We got the biggest hint to this with Dr. Stasis giving Ben Urich proof on mutants being resurrected with images of the X-Men strike team that died on Orchis back in House Of X, which included Cyclops who Ben meet in X-Men #1. Given that Ben Urich does try to maintain a healthy relationship with the superhero community it’ll be interesting to see if he confronts Scott Summers with this information before publishing the story to the Daily Bugle.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz continue to get better as a creative team with each passing issue and X-Men #3 is further proof of that. They tell a great story that showcases the X-Men as a strong superhero team while developing several plotlines around the team that include the High Evolutionary and Orchis future plans. What all these developments are leading towards builds greater excitement for what comes next in this series.
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