By Andy Frisk
November 3, 2011 - 21:04
Writer(s): Victor Gischler
Penciller(s): Will Conrad
Inker(s): Will Conrad
Colourist(s): Chris Sottomayor
Letterer(s): VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist(s): Adi Franov
While Wolverine and The X-Men was a fantastic debut from Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo that really set the bar high for future post-SCHISM X-Men tales, Gischler and Conrad’s X-Men #20 might just end up being the issue that makes X-Men THE X-title to read. This issue, which launches a story arc dealing with rogue arms dealers dealing Sentinels on the Chechen black market, US. and NATO rep War Machine attempting to enforce an impending no-fly zone, a team of X-Men lead by Storm tasked with recovering the Sentinels, and an overall air of dicey international political intrigue and sensitivity, is so packed with realistic world issues (i.e. black market weapons trade issues and political intrigue) that mirror current real world events (in the same way that X-Men First Class did with Cold War intrigue) that X-Men #20 really is the best X-themed thing I’ve read or seen since X-Men First Class…
…and that says a great deal about just how much I enjoyed X-Men #20, and am looking forward to the next issue. Personally, I love the political and social commentary that the X-universe is thematically loaded with, but X-Men #20 goes beyond the whole “hated and feared” theme that permeates the X-Men as a concept and builds upon it by using a tool of that “hatred and fear” as a plot device that delves into even more wide ranging political and social commentary. The inclusion of War Machine, on a mission to handle the arms dealers, and the potentiality of a new Balkan War emerging, the US and NATO way, as a foil to the X-Men’s mission is also packed with intelligent commentary. World attention is so focused on the Middle East, and rightly so, that we often forget that there are still issues wracking the former Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe that warrant attention, if at least as plot devices for intelligent superhero comics. Gischler does an excellent job playing the characters and their motivations off of one another while firmly moving X-Men as a title into the post-SCHISM world. He is doing a great job of integrating “Team Cyclops” into the larger Marvel Universe and real world themed plots. His previous arc in X-Men, which co-starred the X-Men alongside the FF and brought back a character from Scott Summer/Cyclop’s past that harkened back to the politically and socially conscious storytelling days of Chris Claremont, was a brilliant and really fun read, but Gischler might just outdo himself with this new arc.
It is a grand thing to be so excited about several X-Men titles, and an even grander thing to consistently be surprised, entertained, and delighted by X-title after X-title. With so many good X-books to read right now, it’s hard to not read them all. Hopefully, Gischler, Aaron, Gillen and company can keep this great run going for a long while.
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