I thought it might be fun to re-read my favorite Marvel mutants book, and by "my favorite", I mean the only one that I've read much of. After all, can't let Fluit be the only one who writes about mutants around here! ;)
Any way, in typical Baronial fashion, I begin with a book that doesn't contain the word "X-Statix" in it at all.
X-Force #116 (May 2001): "Exit Wounds"
Written by Peter Milligan, art by Michael Allred.
The premise of this book is the existence of a team of mutants who are more concerned with publicity than they are with acceptance or heroism, which is an interesting idea
I'll start with a note about the art. Allred's style seems to be peculiarly suited to stories of an "oddball" or "quirky" nature. I like his stuff here, don't know that I'd want to see him drawing Jonah Hex or the JSA.
We meet the various team members:
We see that there exists an "X-Force Cafe", obviously modeled on the Hard Rock Cafe. (Ever eaten at an Hard Rock Cafe? I have. The food's no better than Bennigan's, and it's alot pricier.) We see what looks like Wolverine and Cyclops among the customers.
To build goodwill, Coach sends them on a mission to rescue a boy band who are being held hostage by crooks. They are in the process of doing this, when suddenly they are all mowed down by an attack chopper, with only Edie and Tike left alive!
Overall: Well, I have to admit, that ending really surprised me that first time I read it. Sluk's death was no biggy, because I knew of teams having a member set up to be killed off, bu tI had not foreseen that they'd kill off most of them! That really drew me in. I don't remember what prompted me to pick up this book in the first place - it may have been just a whim. I wasn't a big X-fan, but it hooked me pretty quickly.
X-Statix #18 (March2004): "Back from the Dead Part Six: The Disc"
We start out seeing that Phat sacrificed his life to smother the explosion. Henrietta's record producers create a new single called "Back from the dead" from her unused tapes. People who hum or sing the song start dropping dead, including Robbie. Dead Girl speaks to Henrietta's ghost, which leads the team to confront the president of Europa. They force him to sing the song, then leave him to Henrietta. She is not in a forgiving mood.
Overall: An interesting wrap-up to this storyline, with a nice take on the whole "Ringu" story. One gets the feeling that Milligan and Allred would do an interesting job on a horror comic. Billy Bob gets a noble send-off. Robbie hadn't really been developed all that much, so hsi deaht isn't as affecting,
X-Statix #19 (April 2004): "The Cure Part One of Two: Miracles and Wonders"
Nick Craine inks Allred on this issue.
We focus on Myles in this issue, as he gets a new boyfriend, TV heart-throb Brandon Cody. Doctor Alex Finlay, a former associate of Charlie X, offers to cure Myles of his powers. I wasn't sure at first why Myles would bother with such a thing since he can turn his powers on and off, unlike, say, Ben Grimm. It comes out that he want to be "normal" in hopes of winning his father's love. The team objects to his treating "being a mutant" as something to be "cured". He goes on Lacuna's - she has bene apparently revivied by the power of prayer - and takes the cure. Brandon leaves him, asking if he's going to try being cured of being gay next. The team boots Myles, since he no longer has powers. We end with the reveal tha tFinaly is goign to give himself Myles' powers and take his place on the team.
OVerall: An interesting issue. Of course, the analogy between "being cured of being a mutant" and "being cured of being gay" is fairly obvious, but it is handled well.
X-Statix #20 (May 2004): "The Cure Part 2: One Angry Man"
This one is drawn by Nick Dragotta. He's OK, but his work seems a little rough.
Finlay has tried to give himself Vivisector's powers. Nothing works until he tries to trigger them the way Myles did - by obsessing on Myles' relationship with his father. This causes him to go berserk. Meanwhile, Myles goes to his father's 60th birthday party, where he finds that the old man still refuses to accept him. Finlay arrives with the X-Statix in hot pursuit. To Myles' shame, Finaly says all the things to Myles' father that Myles never could. Myles kills Finaly, recoveirng his powers and rejoining the team.
Overall: Not bad. I'm a little sketchy as to how taking on Myles' powers resulted in Finaly taking on Myles' issues with his dad, but it's an otherwise interesitng look at a man's problematical relationship with his father.
X-Statix #21 (June 2004): "The Good and the Famous Part One"
Allred is back, this time inked by Nick Craine.
The Team is in Russia, looking for a new onwer, and answering questions about whether they are fit guardians for Doop. Almost immediately, Doop is captured by Russian terrorists who use him as a weapon. The X-Statix go to the Avengers for help, but there is friction between Cap and Tike. the teams cooperate to free Doop. Cap reveals that Doop is actually a US Cold War weapon. Thor inadevertently causes Doop's brain to explode, scattering the pieces around the world. The two team set out on rival quests to recover the pieces before Doop dies. (Aparently he can survive having his brain explode, at least for awhile.)
Overall: An interesting storyline - the traditional heroes of the Avengers vs. the publicity hounds of X-Statix. This issue increases a suspicion I've had for awhile - that this book isn't particualrly set in the mainstrean Marvel Universe as such. Does anyone if the Avengers line-up here (Cap, Thor, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Ant-Man, the Scarlet Witch) reflects the actual Avengers line-up in mid '04?
X-Statix #22 (June 2004): "The Good and the Famous Part 2"
In Thailand, Tike battles Cap over a section of Doop's brain. Tike accuses Cap of being a racist, and Cap wins byconvincing the locals to help him.
On a ghost ship in the North Atlantic, Wanda battles Dead Girl. Dead Girl wins by using the ghosts of Wanda's past against her. Again I get the feeling that Milligan/Allred would have done well writing a horror comic.
Overall: A good issue. They did a good job makign this more than the standard "heroes fight" story.
X-Statix #23 (July 2004): "The Good & The Famous Part 3"
In Africa, Vivisector fights Hawkeye, but they both find themselves out of their depths when delaing with the actual political situation there. In the end, Clint fools Myles into thinking they are working together, and manages to get away with the brain piece.
In Antarctica, Ant-Man battle Venus, attacking her from within. He in turn is attacked by manifestations of her subconscious. In the end, they flip a coin for the brain piece, and Venus wins.
Overall: Still entertaining stuff. I wouldn't have minded seeing more of the Milligan/Allred Avengers, which are not quite like any other depiction of the team that I've seen.
Just wanted to interject that I'm still following this discussion, but I just haven't had much to say of late. Great Job Baron!
Thanks! I'm actually fairly close to the end of this, I hope folks are enjoying it.
X-Statix #24 (August 2004): "The Good and the Famous Part 6"
In the south of France, Guy and Iron Man find the brain piece on the grounds of a religious nudist colony, who insist that they must both be naked. They agree, and fight one another nude. We see that the Surrender Monkey is actually an American agent, manipulating things from behind the scenes. Guy beats Tony, but Tony psyches him into giving him the brain piece.
Overall: An amusing issue. An interesting parody of religious disputes, as the colony dissolves into "Ironists" and "Sensitivists"!
X-Statix #25 (September 2004): "The Good and the Famous Part Seven"
Thor battles Doop in Asgard. This somehow awakens the Fatal Sisters. Both teams show up , and dela with them. Guy agrees to let the Avengers look after Doop, which convinces the Avengers that the X-Statix are responsible enough to look after him, after all. Being called "responsible" upsets the X-Statix so much, that they decide to disband!
Overall: A fun wrap-up to this storyline.
X-Statix #26 (October 2004): "Are You Ready?"
At a party marking their team's disbandment, X-Statix are convinced to go on one last mission, on which they are all killed.
Overall: An OK finale, though it felt a bit rushed. You knew it was likely that this book would end up this way. Some nice moments between Guy and Tike at the end. Dead Girl is seen to be ill, and it's never really explained how a walking corpse could get ill.
X-Staitx Presents: Dead Girl
This was a five-issue mini-series from 2005, written by Peter Milligan, with art by Nick Dragotta and Mike Allred.
We meet a former super-villain who calls himself "The Pitiful One", who is constantly whining about how often he got beat up by super-heroes), who gathers a team of Mysterio, Kraven the Hunter, the Anarchist and Miss America (who is revealed to be a bit of a racist, but who falls in lust with Tike), in order to find a way to bring them all back to life.
Doctor Strange learns of this plot, and reaches into the afterlife to recruit Dead Girl. They descend into Hell, where they recruit the members of Dead Girl's book club (Moira MacTaggart, Gwen Stacy and Mockingbird), as well as the Phantom Rider, the Scott Lang Ant-Man, Mister Sensitive, U-Go-Girl, and the Piano Player, a new character designed to be as annoying as possible.
Anyway, the two teams fight it out, and it is discovered that the real brains behind it all is the Ancient, who grew to resent Stephen so badly that he gave him painful hemorrhoids and tried to destroy him.
Overall: This was good, funny stuff - lots of throwaway gags, like Harry Osborne serving as an elevator operator in Hell, and so on. A good joke on the Revolving Door of Death, as it's pretty much acknowledged that popular characters just don't stay dead.