“Tinker, Tailor, Mutant, Spy: Part Three of Four”
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Michael Ryan
Publisher: Marvel Tsunami
Mystique, having been given encephalitis by her new nemesis the Host (basically a really hardcore version of Infectious Lass who thinks she can talk to viruses), tries to pretend to her little ally Shortpack that she has a healing factor. Then there’s a Matrix Reloaded style highway chase, and much struggle over a MacGuffin full of deadly microbes.
Vaughan keeps the action going this issue, and continues to stand out as the premier interpreter of anti-heroines. Especially Mystique. Okay, so she’s somehow younger and more bendy than the nefarious stalker of Carol Danvers from her short-lived title all those years ago, but this book looks like it just last longer than its feminist antecedent. Not that you can really call Mystique a Ms. Marvel spin-off, as both characters parked themselves with the X-men over the years to keep them vital. While Busiek brought the shine back to Warbird, Vaughan has revealed just how adventuresome the always resourceful (and frequently wise, at least very clever) Mystique can be.
I don’t know if we’ve slowed down enough to get a handle on her personality yet, but so far that’s fine, as she’s not really acting of her own free will in the story. This issue we get distracted by the madness of the Host (I’m more than ever reminded of Vaughan’s run on the female Swamp Thing, who had a similar affinity for non-human life), who’s a rather intriguing loony toons. How interesting that she can’t kill Raven until she takes back the illness she gave her.
Ryan is a one-man argument for the potential of this new virtual inking process, as he’s the only yet who’s made it look good. The colors and computer-finishing look great on his art, enhancing rather than obscuring his solid command of anatomy and his effective storytelling, most notably in the dramatic high-speed action sequence. He’s a great match for this story, and even cover artist Mayhew works well enough on this arc. Mystique is the last person to object to pin-up exploitation, after all.
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