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X-Statix #21

Posted: Friday, May 7, 2004
By: Jason Cornwell



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

Publisher: Marvel

The Plot:
After opening with Guy responding to recent comments made by Captain America about his group, and their being too irresponsible to be entrusted with something as dangerous as Doop, we see X-Statix don't exactly do much to prove him wrong, as Doop is kidnapped by a band of Russian terrorists who turn Doop into a super weapon. As the Avengers arrive to deal with this crisis, we see the impulsive actions of both teams results in Doop's brain exploding, and pieces of it end up all across the planet. Thus begins the race between the two teams to secure the pieces of Doop's brain before the other team can do the same.

The Good:
I'm a sucker for the comic book slugfest and as such this arc is right down my alley, and while the skeptic in me is already doubting the ability of the X-Statix members to pull off any victories in the various match-ups that have been mentioned, I will say that I'm looking forward to the various one-on-one exchanges, and if nothing else these encounters are going to act as the first real good look at the various individual powers of the X-Statix members, as I'm already familiar with what the Avengers bring to the table so they make for a nice measure stick. This issue also manages to do a pretty good job of setting up a understandable position for each group to take, as the Avengers problems with X-Statix are nicely spelled out and perfectly in character, which in turn makes it easier to understand why the two teams would be brought into conflict. The issue also makes it clear that if nothing else this arc might provide some answers to the questions about Doop's origin, as comments made by Captain America suggest he has more insight into the character than Doop's own teammates. Captain America's comments do take the character of Doop in a curious direction as it raises a host of questions that I hope are answered over the course of this arc, especially since comments online make it seem like this arc might very well be the final one for this series. Most of all though the basic premise of this arc is the Avengers versus X-Statix, and this opening issue does a very credible job of laying out the groundwork for why these two groups would be after each other, without any sign of mind-control, or out of character overreactions.

First off I have to say I loved the old school feel of this issue's cover, as in an era where most on Marvel's covers are offering up generic poses, it's great to see there is still one title in their line of titles that recognizes the role that cover images should be playing, as one look at this image and I wanted to read this issue. As for the interior art it would appear that Mike Allred made another change to his style, as the characters are being rendered in a more realistic looking style, though by the same token the Avengers look more cartoonish, which I'm guessing is a visually indicator that they are a comic book element, while X-Statix are a closer reflection of how super-heroes would behave in the real world. I also have to say I loved the return of old style costumes, as while an effort is made to reflect the current look of Iron Man's armor, it still has a delightfully Silver Age look to it that evoked memories of my early years as a comic reader, when Iron Man looked more like a cool robot than a man in a suit. I also have to say the panel of Thor's hammer buried in Doop's brain stands up as one of the more memorable images I've encountered in years. Plus, Hawkeye's little boxing glove arrows made me smile.

The Bad:
I'm a little wary about this arc as one of the reasons that this book has gotten away with its formula is because it didn't really interact much with the rest of the Marvel Universe, and as such it was easier to pretend that it was operating in its own little world. However, this arc makes it difficult to ignore the idea as we have the Avengers parading about in these pages, and the continuity obsessed fan in me starts picking up on the little details like Thor running around with the Avengers when the character hasn't been part of the lineup for quite some time. Still for the sake of the battle I'm glad Thor is on hand for the party, and I have to say there is something fitting that this Silver Age style plot has assembled what is essentially the ideal Silver Age lineup of Earth's Mightiest Heroes. I do have to openly wonder how Peter Milligan is going to explain the plot device of why X-Statix would break up to retrieve the pieces of Doop's brain, as Venus could move the entire team from site to sight far quicker than the Quinjets could transport the Avengers to the various locations. As such I find myself hoping this problem is explained away before the fights break out, as the reality of the situation is that the next issue should feature scene after scene of the Avengers arriving at the various location to discover that the X-Statix had already been there to retrieve the pieces of Doop's brain, with the piece in Asgard being the only one with the question mark regarding Venus' ability to teleport her team to the location of this piece. Still, this isn't a huge problem to explain away, as this issue has already hinted that Doop's energies do hamper her power.

Giving You A Piece Of My Mind:
I must confess when I first heard about this arc I wasn't exactly thrilled as it felt like a shameless attempt to gain this book a larger reading audience, and while I have nothing against the idea of using popular heroes as guest-stars to draw in new readers, I can't say I'm a fan of a story where the entire premise hinges around the concept. However, the opening issue of this arc managed to quash almost all of my concerns as the Avengers are perfectly in character, and the event that puts the teams at each other's throats is a convincing display of two teams with opposing views where it's easy to identify with the motives of all the characters involved, and why they wouldn't be inclined to back down. The issue also offers up some intriguing insight about the mystery of Doop's back-story as Captain America seems to know more about Doop than the little green blob has shared with his teammates in X-Statix. Also while the Avengers lineup does clash with some continuity elements, I have to say it's a wonderful homage to one of the best lineups that Avengers have ever had, and with the team about to undergo a massive change under Brian Michael Bendis' watch it's nice to see this cast getting one final time around the track. Plus, one has to love the classic moment where Thor's Mjolnir buries itself in Doop's brain.



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