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X-Statix #4

Posted: Sunday, November 17, 2002
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Michael Allred

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot:
The book opens with Guy arriving in time to keep the zombies from finishing off the last member of O-Force, but we see that after making this rescue, he heads straight after Arnie. However, thanks to the mutant ability to make anything he wants a reality, we see Arnie is not about to back down from this fight, especially since he holds Guy largely responsible for Edie's death. After Arnie send Guy flying out of his house into a swarm of zombies, we see Guy discovers that in his absence the X-Statix have gotten back together, thanks largely to the efforts of Venus Dee Milo. As his team busies itself dealing with Arnie's zombie army, we see Guy heads back in for a second crack at the power mad Arnie. However this time we see Guy's plan looks to simply anger Arnie until the young mutant lashes out with lethal force, but we see this plan allows Guy to get in close enough that he's able to get his hands around Arnie's neck, which he threatens to snap if Arnie doesn't stand down. What follows is a rather unusual moment where we see both Guy & Arnie decide this fight is pointless, as they both loved Edie, and killing each other won't bring her back. However, while Arnie goes about repairing the damage he did to his town, and to O-Force, we see he also comes up with a request that Guy is forced to accept, or else Arnie will fly off the handle once again.

Comments:
This issue reads a bit odd, as after nicely dismantling the team in the previous issue, this issue almost seems to be in a mad dash to fit all the pieces back together. In the end this results in a story that almost seems dismissive of the work that had been done leading up to this issue, and while it's certainly Peter Milligan's right to play with the ideas he creates as he sees fit, I have to say that this issue makes everything seem a bit too simple. I mean we have a contract overturned because Solomon O'Sullivan mutant gift has gone on the fritz, we have Phat's mutant power suddenly restored when he admits that he's gay, we have Tike shamed into risking his life, and Myles is suddenly clear headed & lucid, despite the fact that last issue left the character in a drunken stupor. One of this quick fix solutions would've been easy to accept, and I'd even have let two slip by without making a fuss, but when all the pieces find their way back on the board with such ease, I have to wonder why the writer even made the effort to scatter them across the room in the first place. Now I'll concede that seeing the team come together made for a nice feel good moment, but a large part of this book's appeal was that was never easy to figure out what was going through the heads of these characters, as Peter Milligan instilled them with some decidedly unheroic tendencies.

While this issue does pull the X-Statix back together as a team this issue is still largely Guy's show, as he's the only one to directly deal with Arnie, and the conversation that these two have with each other is pretty intense, thanks largely to the fact that we know what Arnie is capable of. The scene where Guy is ready snap Arnie's neck, while Arnie states his final action would be to make Guy explode, made for a fairly impressive standoff, and the way this tense situation is ended is offbeat enough that it's perfectly at home in these pages. The big cliffhanger that this issue ends with is also nicely done, as I was completely floored by this final page, and I can't wait to see where this is going to go. I can't imagine this scenario is going to stand up, as the X-Statix live and die by their popularity with the public, and having an immensely powerful & deeply disturbed Arnie as a member of the group is sure to have the team's spin doctors pulling their hair out. This issue also gives us a pretty good look at Guy's current state of mind, as one almost gets the sense that he wanted to be killed, and while this revelation is nothing new, this issue offers up a great little scene where he's almost egging Arnie into a murderous rampage, and given the team outside were counting on him to deal with Arnie, this issue marks the first time that Guy has let his death wish endanger the others.

Michael Allred continues to turn in some wonderful work on this book, as his work lends itself quite well to the material. I mean the horror of the opening scene, as we see one of the last surviving members of O-Force being surrounded by the zombies was well handled, as was the reveal shot as we discover the X-Statix has come back together. There's also some nice work on the scene that show us Guy's dealings with Arnie, as there's a great little shot of Guy as he loses his head, and decides to push Arnie into attacking him. One also has to enjoy the little panels that convey this book's decidedly offbeat nature, as one has to smile at the little panel that follows Guy's big entrance, when Arnie's mother offers her apology for not stopping him, or her arrival later in the issue, where she brings a end to the big fight with a plate of milk and cookies. There's also a great one page shot of the X-Statix in heated conflict with Arnie's army of zombies, and the following page is a fun display of the group's various powers, with Tike's method of dealing with a zombie hanging from his back being my personal favorite zombie smashing visual. The art also does some nice work on the little details, like the establishing shot of the X-Statix's headquarters that instantly tells one the team's back in the public's good graces, or the surprise factor of this issue's final page.

Final Word:
Given the previous issue had done such a nice job of dismantling the team I found this issue a bit disappointing, as we see Peter Milligan takes the predictable path, as the X-Statix get back together to rally behind Guy. A large part of the reason I found this book entertaining was the result of the unpredictable nature of it's cast, as this was a group of individuals who were driven by greed, and desire to be in the spotlight. I mean it makes sense that Guy would be heroic for the simple sake of being heroic, but to get the group back together, Peter Milligan needed to be a bit more creative than he was in this issue. The way that the X-Statix were brought back together was too simple, and this robbed the issue of some of its enjoyment, as I was left with the sense that Peter Milligan simply broke the team apart so he could illustrate how tenuous the links were that hold the group together. There's some enjoyment to be found in these pages, as the surprise finish has me eagerly awaiting the next issue, but this issue had a rushed feel to it that left me a bit concerned.



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