"Three in a Bed"
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Mike Allred
The cover says it all: "Introducing El Guapo! Aye Papi!" This is a get-re-oriented issue of X-Statix, featuring the induction of yet another new member to the casualty-prone mutant team. El Guapo, AKA Robbie Rodriguez, isn't very interesting himself. He's just a very handsome young dude with an apparently sentient skateboard. He doesn't need to be more, because this is a story of the complicated and fiscally compromised super-team as seen through the eyes of an innocent. Robbie has a lot to cope with in this issue, and of course, that means a trial by fire on several levels at once.
I'm amazed by all the media references Milligan fits into this title, without ever coming out and naming any of them. This issue we've got Ricky Martin, the Latino demographic, "reality" TV and its machinations, Eminem, and the rights and privileges of super-models. Plus cameo appearances by Kevin Smith, Julia Robert's Oscar dress, and Wolverine.
The story, as it were, shows Robbie's loss of innocence at the hands of the callous, or is that exploitative, or is that simply pragmatically capitalist team concept. This series has actually included Prof. X, which leads one to wonder what he thinks of this team. They're funded by humans, they're the most popular of all mutants, they willingly risk (and often lose) their lives, and they do the bidding of the US government, if paid enough. In other words, they may be achieving many of Xavier's ultimate goals for mutancy, but by means he's never utilized or taught. He gives his tacit approval, however, by offering assistance and counseling to both Guy and Venus when in need. Mutants' struggling with their gifts is his area of expertise; perhaps he just views the rest as not his concern?
Character development amidst the mad ultraviolence is the other strength of this book, but they lost their most sympathetic character when Edie died. We're left with soap opera this issue, though some of it is still groundbreaking. Venus and Guy hit another bump in their relationship as Mr. Sensitive is very much "formerly known as" such these days. Phat and Vivisector, both gay, are just friends after their failed relationship. Now they have to contend with the lycanthropic mutant's undeniable attraction to Robbie. Robbie himself, however, feels his tie to his girlfriend Consuela being endangered by his new "friends."
Meanwhile, the team feels jealousy over Robbie's potential to replace them as the "fresh new face of X-Statix!"
Allred has outdone himself this issue. His inks are light and detailed, leaving a lot of room for Laura Allred's bright colors. The result is more fluid and expressive storytelling than his usual more static compositions. Robbie's passion, his fear and his na´vetÚ all come through clearly along his instant learning curve. It's a powerful issue, the X-Static world in capsule form, and a perfect jumping on point.
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