[Comic Review] The Queen is Back — X-Men #11

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The resurrection of Selene, the Black Queen is complete, and Arkea Prime is one step closer to completing her squad.

Though Amora and the Yuriko side of the Ana/Yuriko combo have their doubts bringing back to life someone as dangerous as Selene, Arkea Prime must be obeyed.

Meanwhile, the X-Men are onboard the yacht they found last issue during their investigation into Cortes’ whereabouts via paper trail. There’s a bit of bickering with a confusing back and forth that results in the team figuring out that someone’s bringing X-Men foes back to life.

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That plan is confirmed when Sabra tells the X-Men about a black market where dead mutants’ remains are sold to collectors and anyone interested in that kind of thing. Aware that Selene’s remains have been sold, the X-Men are also told about the possibility of a Madeleine Pryor comeback.

It’s all fun and games until your boss controls your life, and Ana decides to turn her sparring match with Typhoid Mary into a duel for the death. Ana’s plan is to have Mary kill her because she knows she won’t be lasting long in Arkea’s world.

It might just be me, but it feels like this X-Men series is starting to crumble under the weight of too many plotlines, too many characters, too many identities, plot twists, inconsistencies, and hard-to-follow dialogues?

Case in point — On Cortes’ boat, Monet and Rachel argue over semantics and fashion before Psylocke returns from searching the bilge and finding nothing of importance.

This is where the dialogue gets really murky — Karima makes a point about the yacht sailing a logical escape route which, as Storm posits, is also an obvious one.

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It isn’t clear at this point whether Ororo is agreeing or countering Karima, but Shapandar takes into account the amount of work it took to find the boat — and therefore, it’s a ruse.

She also plays the cop card and questions the experience of the rest of the X-Men who, according to her, have no experience with organized crime families.

I beg to differ, but I’ll leave it at that.

Rachel turns confrontational, but Karima reiterates her belief that the boat is a red herring.

And that’s when Storm states the X-Men are Lady Deathstrike experts, and Cortes and the boat could just be a cover.

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Cue the trace-buster buster.

So Storm thinks everything is a red herring, but they should make sure, you know, just in case.

The way Brian Wood writes these characters this issue — it feels like a really bad Congressional meeting on C-Span. Everyone has something to say, and while they may agree on some parts, there’s just way too much ego here.

Instead of working as a team, the X-Men seem to be great self-saboteurs agreeing to disagree about agreements.

It’s a big drag on the story, and while it serves as a means to sequence the logic the X-Men use to figure out Arkea’s complicated plan — it still doesn’t sit right.

Let’s be real. Putting Sherlock Holmes, Batman and Bruce Wayne, Superman, the Fantastic Four, Bruce Banner, and Mastermind on an empty boat could get you some answers about what’s in the refrigerator below deck without opening it up, but not even those geniuses could come up with the idea that someone’s buying dead mutants and bringing them back to life to create a super team.

And a full page closeup on Monet as she comes to that conclusion just underwhelms. Even the dramatic prairie dog meme couldn’t get me to accept what’s going on here though it would be much more entertaining.

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On the art note, Kris Anka is otherwise good — his panels during Selene’s return to the world courtesy of Amora and Ana/Yuriko/Deathstrike/Muertas is fluid and anime-stylish. Most of Anka’s pages are panels filled with people talking, walking, and as mentioned before, arguing, until the last few pages of the main storyline when Ana and Mary engage in swordplay. To that end, Anka’s best pages are the bookends.

Jason Keith’s colors are at their best when the environment comes to play. The deep blues for the sky and the ethereal green smoke during Amora’s ritual are highlights. I’m not sure why Keith colored Sabra’s image on the Dove’s dashboard a monotone red — I’m not even sure why the projection has to sit in the middle of the cockpit’s windshield — but those are gripes, take them as you will.

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The second story in X-Men #11 deals with the B-Team on Catalina Island fighting back a few Arkea-controlled Sentinels.

Again, there’s some confusion here as to who’s talking about what, whom, and where. Most confusing of all is how Karima is in two places at once because she was here at the battle last issue, then across the world near Dubai, and now she’s back here. Any comments would help me with this headache.

The second story fight sequence feels much more kinetic than the main story altogether, and Clay Mann’s pencils, as well as Seth Mann’s inks, are amazing. I get impatient drawing five fingers, but Mann’s first panel has Pixie and Bling ripping through a Sentinel with electrical wires, cabling, copper coils, and metal pieces flying about. With Paul Mounts’ colors adding nice hues and textures — the rusty purple metal on the Sentinels is a nice touch — the artwork soars.

There’s a lot of visual tension with some great scenes, and it’s a great pickup that makes me wish the entire issue had this sort of energy.

And that is probably X-Men’s biggest fault right now. It has no identity. It doesn’t even have an official team name according to its members. It’s neither blue team or gold team, alpha or all-new.

It’s the women of X-Men in a story arc called Muertas or Ghosts, with a lot of characters who can’t even figure out their own identities. Monet, or M, or M-Plate, or Penance — her full name is Monet Yvette Clarisse Maria Therese St. Croix — is another cog in a glorified wheel, and her presence amplifies the convoluted mess bewitching this X-Men squad.

It’s a big story with a lot of moving parts. The problem is when those parts stop moving, or when we zoom out to see the big picture. For all of the trouble Jubilee and her team has to deal with in the Catalina Islands, where are the other threats emanating from Arkea? What about the other computer systems, nuclear weapons, military armaments that can be brought under her control?

For all of the threats and fear-mongering, things are too simple in some regards. It’s as if Wood has given up on the chess game for a few toys in the box. Remember when you played with your action figures/dolls but you had to put down the toy that wasn’t speaking or involved in the conversation to pick up the one that was?

That’s what this issue feels like.


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X-Men #11 (2013)
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Marvel
Words: Brian Wood
Art: Kris Anka and Clay Mann
Inks: Seth Mann
Colors: Jason Keith and Paul Mounts
Letters: Joe Caramagna

Previous Issue: X-Men #10 Review
Next Issue: X-Men #12 Review

Buy X-Men #11 from Things From Another World!

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