Current Reviews


X-Men: The 198 Files

Posted: Monday, January 9, 2006
By: Shawn Hill

Writers: Eric J. Moreels, Marc-Oliver Frisch, Brian E. Wilkinson
Artists: Multiple (catalog swipes)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Designed as an Office of National Emergency dossier assembled for Deputy Director Val Cooper, this is a mock-web database of the mutants who remain powered up after “no more mutants.” It’s principal interest lies in the assortment of heroes and villains who remain active as mutants, including many old and unexpected faces.

The compilers thank the writers of all the current X-Men series, and it seems that they are indeed taking their cues from them as to this mixed bag of mutants, some expected, some long off the canvas. Borrowing from the current administration’s system terrorist threat level identification, each of these mutants is coded on a scale from low to severe, with most of the X-Men receiving the higher warning levels. In a way, this dossier mixes up heroes and villains, reflecting the ambiguous nature of O.N.E.’s approach to the “mutant problem” in some of the core titles. Is Val a friend or foe? She’s what the situation requires, which is still developing. While marks should go to the designers for the foil-like cover and the clear writing in the individual entries, whoever thought dark blue “hyperlinks” on a black background should pay for my new reading glasses. There’s a reason they don’t do that on web pages. It’s nigh unreadable; yellow or orange would have been far superior.

The art swipes are interesting, and run the gamut to well past just the last decade. The surprises perhaps hint at intriguing promises for new story: several Marauders, X-treme X-Men villains and heroes (Claremont creations abound), Great Lakes Avengers, third rate supporting characters from the Alan Davis Excalibur run, a hefty dose of Academy students, etc. It’s actually a pretty fun mixed bag. And compared to a Secret Files or a Handbook, which this tome resembles, this volume is a less obvious marketing gimmick for new stories and more of a trove of useful information about the current state of things. If it had a lower price point, it would even be a bargain.

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