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X-Statix #12

Posted: Thursday, September 4, 2003
By: Shawn Hill



"If You Think I'm Sexy"

Writer: Peter Milligan
Artists: Mike Allred (p), Phillip Bond (i)

Publisher: Marvel

Plot:
Maybe I should just start out each of these reviews by listing which particular aspects of pop culture Milligan is taking on each month. I thought I came up with a pretty comprehensive list last time, but this time topics range from supermodels, Columbine, and ethnic burial customs to body image, the costs and boons of fame, and necrophilia.

While the team is on a mission to the India/Pakistan border, Dead Girl has signed a lucrative fashion modeling contract. Venus seems to resent this distraction and Tike and the others eventually find Dead Girl even more distracted by a mission of her own. She's convinced things are going awry in the team's own fully-stocked … mortuary.

Comments:
There's nothing wrong with the script this issue, or at least, with the broad plot and themes. Details get a little blurred along the way, as action and setting swing wildly around the globe from scene to scene, with little transition. In one sense, it's almost a "very special issue" of X-Statix, as we leave all of the main characters behind to focus on the very sordid family life of Brad, the Senior Mortician (cue Adam's Family music).

Of course, all of that is just an excuse to spend a little more time with the otherwise nameless Dead Girl. Her murky (to her, but not really to us or Milligan) motivations and the wild card wits of the rest of the team make for some sparky dialogue, as when Tike realizes just what's going on between Brad and his "girls and boys" in the morgue. Major creep-out and the Alienist's silent expression in that panel is hilarious.

Tike, in fact, is the life of the party this issue, making some very rude suggestions to a totally indifferent Venus and stirring up trouble where he can. The rest of the team fades to the background, allowing Dead Girl to come more into focus. Like Sensitive Guy, she almost embodies all the themes of the book in one person. She doesn't know who she is, or exactly how she died, or totally why she's back, but she knows she likes to party and make money and, it turns out, to speak for the dead whose plaints she hears.

Linking her with the modeling world allows for some obvious but apt comments about impossible beauty obsession (though casting her protestors as murderous plump lesbians is a bit simplistic), and having her "E-TV" correspondent announce herself as an award-winning former porn star is a bonus.

The Columbine stuff, with a very confused and angry Goth mortician's daughter shooting up the school, is overwrought and clichéd, but I think it would have worked if only the art was up to shocking Grand Guignol moments the script so clearly calls for.

That's the major disappointment this issue. Though it's perhaps understandable after the best-ever job Allred turned in last month inking himself, the art this time is rushed and clearly sub-par in several instances.

You'd think Phillip Bond (who's subbed on this title before or at least turned in some excellent covers) would feel free to put his stamp on what could only be Allred's roughest layouts, but instead he works too diligently with what was barely there. The results don't look much like Bond, and in one strikingly pedestrian climactic scene (p. 15) look only like an amateur version of Allred.

It's unfortunate, because the cover is brilliant, and the story is ambitious if frenetic. Poor Dead Girl; a mediocre spotlight issue ensures she remains somewhat in U-Go Girl's long shadow.



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