Writer: Chuck Austen
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Havok and a few other X-Men (including the new Xorn) rush to the point where Jay said there was a tree that looked like Black Tom, the new leader of the Brotherhood of Mutants, outside the school grounds. Just after defecting back to the Brotherhoodís side, Juggernaut puts a savage beat-down on X-spy Nocturne, but heís then confronted by his friend, Sammy. After Black Tom "kills" Tommy, Juggernaut goes berserk and attacks the Brotherhood. When Havok, Iceman and Xorn arrive on the scene Havok is too slow to see that he is outgunned by the new Brotherhood and is quickly overwhelmed.
A fair amount happens in the latest X-Men and while I'm happy that Austen's writing after the last few storylines is getting better, I canít help but think this still isnít up to the same standard of his writing in the JLA at the moment. His new Xorn is a great character and while I like him, I canít shake the feeling that the only reason he is included is because people really liked him in Morrisonís New X-Men and felt a little ripped off when he turned out to be Magneto.
I enjoyed the conversation between Xorn and Havok about another person being responsible for Magneto's actions, somebody who is still in their midst. It does explain why Magneto would come out of hiding after almost being immortalised by millions of mutants in the world believing he was dead. Nice work. I also liked the way Austen dealt with the Brotherhood finding out that Nocturne was a spy. While it seems pretty obvious to us that Juggernaut isnít all he seems and hasnít just swapped sides all of a sudden, itís still written so that it seems believable enough for the Brotherhood to not see it. Sammyís purpose to me over the course of the year has become fairly apparent with his "death", and Iím glad the Juggernaut/Sammy story seems to be bringing to a close.
One thing I donít like about Austenís work here is the way he portrays Iceman. He still, after all this time, has a huge chip on his shoulder against Havok/Juggernaut/everybody; he should by now be old and mature enough to get over it. Icemanís constant heckling of Havok is just getting on my nerves. Perhaps the most likely reason that I keep on picking up X-Men is Salvador Larroca's spot-on artwork. Each scene looks amazing and each character is defined and coloured perfectly with their great costumes (while I think Avalanche looks dumb with the big "A" I love it how you can see through Icemanís body now).
I have been watching Larroca's work since the start of X-Treme X-Men and his work has been to a consistently high standard throughout all that time. With Danny Miki inking and Liquid on Colours I hope that he keeps going at this standard. His cover work also is great, in complete contrast to the previous issue - this time with Juggernaut standing besides the Brotherhood, it gives you an impression of whatís going on but still hides enough for it to not be obvious.
Like I said earlier, I think Austen's writing - while being fairly generic - is getting better, he has a strong base of characters to play with and I hope he doesnít waste them in his last few issues. Larroca's artwork alone is enough to make me continue to pick up this title in the coming months and if youíre just after an easy to read story with some colourful action scenes and a little bit of intrigue then X-Men #162 is worth it.
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