The Ties That Unwind — X-Men #12 Review

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The Sisterhood is growing, and Arkea Prime looked like a dominant force ready to bring the X-Men to their knees.

It’s been a while since a new and original villain rose to the challenge. Actually, it’s been a while since any of the X-Men teams took on a classic villain. Most of them are either dead, missing in action, or a part of the many X-Men squads.

Seeing the origin and rise of Arkea Prime brought the possibility of an awesome threat ready to make her mark on the universe, and with a team whose membership includes the likes of Lady Deathstrike, Amora the Enchantress, Selene the Black Queen, and now Madelyne Pryor, the new Sisterhood looked like a perfect match for the new X-Men.

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Unfortunately, we’re treated to a lackluster end to a story arc that’s built itself up for something epic.

Issue #12 begins with the X-Men deciphering Arkea’s whereabouts. As the team moves to strike hard and fast after removing Arkea’s compound from the electrical grid, Amora revives Ana Cortes’ body with a new conscience — Madelyne Pryor’s. The new addition ups the ante just as Monet crashes the party and takes it the last person who killed her, Amora.

Things don’t go so well for the Sisterhood. The X-Men systematically tear apart Arkea’s team, physically and mentally. Facing sudden defeat, Selene and Pryor take a pass, leaving the betrayed Prime vulnerable and at the mercy of the X-Men.

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And, once again, Arkea Prime dies at Karima Shapandar’s (not Shapander’s) hand.

Underwhelming is the word as the team congratulates Karima on a job well done. I’m not sure what Karima did besides pull the trigger, and her sudden exit from the team with Gabriel Shepherd doesn’t feel natural enough. The fact Gabriel’s just hovering around in the vicinity waiting to pick up his new teammate — the conclusion to the Muertas/Ghosts storyline just feels like a massive gut punch.

After letting the Black Queen and the Goblin Queen walk out, the team looks hardly stressed seeing one of their teammates fly away. And Karima’s desire to look into Cortes and her family when a bigger threat is out there just feels a self-demotion or distraction.

Brian Wood began the series with a lot of bombast, but each of the story arcs have quickly petered out. Introduced threats are dying quicker than C-Level villains, and we’ve got two resurrected villains whose allegiance changes on a whim — not that there’s an expectation of honor amongst thieves, but come on — the X-Men were there in their grasp. If the Black Queen and the Goblin Queen can’t be bothered to team up to get rid of the X-Men once and for all, then what is the point?

Kris Anka on art detail does a serviceable job. The action scenes are kinetic and powerful, but the rest of the issue feels static with some awkward-looking closeups.

On colors, Jason Keith makes Psylocke’s psi-blades pop, but the rest of the issue feels inconsistent with some dull pages, especially in the Amora and Monet sequence.

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The art and colors on the second half of the issue where Jubilee and her young team fights off Sentinels in Catalina looks a bit more detailed and dramatic. Clay Mann on pencils, Seth Mann on inks, and Paul Mounts on colors do a great job of putting together a quick action sequence.

Sadly, the story here ends with about the same whimper as Arkea’s. There’s no real sense of danger here — it feels very much like it’s time to end this particular scene, and everyone gets a nice and tidy ending. The refriending between Roxy and Mercury feels a little forced, and another plot thread is quickly tied up.

It wouldn’t be so frustrating if there wasn’t as much potential. It almost feels co-opted — a story’s mapped out only to have the plug pulled at the last minute. Looking at the issue’s cover where the main X-Men team take on Sentinels on a beach, I’m just left confused.

I’m guessing the team will now go after the disbanded Sisterhood, though I wouldn’t be surprised if they forego that altogether for something entirely different. I just want it to be good, and anyone else who feels that way might consider whether it’s worth it to hold their breath.


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X-Men #12 (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 #11 Review

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