The previous two issues of Marvel Knights: X-Men have been surprisingly good. As someone who was a bit jaded with the X-books following last year’s Battle of the Atom crossover, this new (mini) series proved to be a breath of fresh air in almost all respects and the creative team of Brahm Revel and Cristiane Peter did some really good work on both these issues. They introduced the characters well and gave them a compelling mystery to sink their teeth into, something that could resonate with the reader alongside some of the more compelling X-Men stories.
But sadly, the third issue, released this week, proves to be a bit of a bummer. After the awesomeness of the previous two issues, we got a very disappointing issue this week. And its not so much as the art as the writing that is problematic here. The X-Men don’t exactly act in character and the revealed powers of Darla grow steadily more messy, in both story and art. I’m not sure really. I kind of enjoyed the story here, but I was also put off by it in several places. Perhaps that’s why I found it so disappointing.
Marvel recently relaunched its Marvel Knights brand of comics, with Matt Kindt’s Spider-Man and Brahm Revel’s X-Men. The latter is the only of the two that I have taken any interest in, and the first issue launched last month proved to be quite a decent opening issue that tells a low-key, low-stakes story where the focus is on the characters first and the action second. Like I remarked in my review for it, the current crop of X-Men books all seem to be focused on telling the grand stories that affect absolutely everything and Marvel Knights: X-Men fills a niche in the opposite side of the spectrum.
The first issue set the stage for all the characters and it gave us an intro to the primary characters: Wolverine, Kitty and Rogue, as they set out for a small town somewhere in West Virginia where Rachel has seen visions of a mutant kid being murdered in cold blood. The story wasn’t all that dark per se but it did have a pretty serious message to it, and the message was that the X-Men protect their own, even when that person is not actually a part of the team. Revel worked in some really interesting commentary from all the characters and that was part of the reason I liked it so much. The second issue proves to be more of the same.
Marvel Knights is apparently an imprint within Marvel where the stories are all told as mini-series. They are all a part of the main Marvel universe, but are still… separate. I read the first issue of Marvel Knights: Spider-Man a while but didn’t like it. It was interesting that instead of SpOck (that is, Superior Spider-Man aka Otto Octavius), it had Peter Parker, who’s been dead for a while. That was quite a different approach, bringing back one of Marvel’s most enduring characters after a long time.
Revel’s Marvel Knights: X-Men is set before the events of X-Men: Battle of the Atom, and consequently the team is still largely together, although we focus on a few key characters only. As it turns out, the fact that this story is set apart from the all the regular X-Men titles works in its favours and is a strength, rather than a weakness. If more X-Men series could be like this, I would have an easier time of getting into these books!