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X-Statix #22

Posted: Wednesday, May 5, 2004
By: Kelvin Green



Writer: Peter Milligan
Artists: Michael Allred (p), Nick Craine (i)

Publisher: Marvel Knights

And here comes Pete Milligan who writes The Avengers better as guest stars in someone elseís comic than Chuckliní (All The Way To The Bank) Chuck Austen does in their own title. Admittedly, the plot here is inane, but thatís part of the point of the story, and of X-Statix as a whole. It has always poked fun at superhero conventions while gleefully indulging in them at the same time. The situation is absurd, but the characters are played straight, with humour coming from how they react to the situation rather than out-of-character joking. Captain America disapproves of the X-Statix method, thinking that they donít take their responsibilities seriously. The fact that their actions have caused him to race around the world looking for bits of Doopís brain just proves the point as far as heís concerned. This is completely consistent with Captain Americaís personality as portrayed in the more ďseriousĒ books he appears in. The Anarchist, never really comfortable on race issues, sees yet another white man enforce authority and discipline on non-whites. To him, Captain America is not a living embodiment of the American Dream, but of The Man, always keeping the black man down. Of course, this isnít Captain America at all, and the humour arises from this misunderstanding, one which is far more convincing than the usual confusions that drive heroes to fight each other. But The Anarchist is also right, as the Thai observers of the fight also see Cap as a symbol of America in its less favourable aspect, as a capitalist exploitative juggernaut (although they welcome his American Dollars). Capís confusion as this view collides with his very clear-cut view of his home nation is funny, but at the same time actually says something significant (if rather obvious).
And that all comes through in a fight scene as The Avengers guest star in someone elseís comic. Pay attention Chuck, this is called ďdepthĒ.

The second brawl, between Dead Girl and Scarlet Witch (she seems to have dropped the extraneous ďTheĒ) is less successful. The satire is still on show here, and itís good to see a confrontation solved through something other than physical violence as Dead Girl psychologically breaks Wanda. That said, the story still falls a bit flat for some reason I canít put my finger on. Perhaps itís because Wanda isnít really that interesting a character, and so thereís less opportunity for a compelling contrast between her and Dead Girl. Captain America and The Anarchist are characters who have wildly divergent viewpoints and personalities, leading to a compelling confrontation that almost writes itself. Dead Girl and Scarlet Witch donít get a chance to interact as deeply, having little in common and little to disagree about, and subsequently thereís little to drive the story forward.

I should probably discuss the art, but thereís little to say. Mike Allredís art is as wonderful as ever, aside from an awful depiction of Capís shield on the cover, and he has found a good inker in Nick Craine. Laura Allred does a great job on the colouring, and all in all, itís business as usual, which is very good indeed.
This is the best Avengers comic out this month, and itís not even a proper Avengers comic. Fancy that.



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