Tuesday, December 20, 2011

X-Men Noir: Mark of Cain

I was a pretty big fan of the original X-Men Noir miniseries.  I dug the whole putting familiar characters in a vastly different setting.  Sure it was pretty much just biting Elseworlds, but the whole "noir" setting made it unique enough.

Given how much I enjoyed the original, the thought of Fred Van Lente and Dennis Calero returning with a follow up was very enticing.  Would they be able to recapture the magic that the first mini held or would they buckle under the pressure of expectations?

The book starts off weirdly.  Actually it starts off with scenes from a newsreel detailing the Senate Hearing on Genosha Bay.  The allusion to be drawn is to Guantanamo Bay and that point is nailed home with all of the subtlety of a Michael Bay flick.  We see water-boarding and we hear about how dangerous the criminals held there are.

From there we are transported across the world to find the familiar faces of Tommy, Logan and Scott searching for a sacred temple.  Later there's a thwarted deal and a chase which results in a pretty clever play on the "all new all different" X-Men.

Unfortunately the final page of the first issue is the highlight of the entire mini.  From  there story lines and motivations become muddled.  There are crosses and double crosses.  We find out things we thought were true aren't true.  Honestly, it's a confusing mess.

Calero's art makes it enjoyable to look at.  Calero really revels in the shadows and he uses them to his advantage. And his redesigns of the X-characters for the noir world are equally impressive.

Sadly Van Lente's story just misses the mark.  It's like he was trying to be too ambitious and set his sights too high.  It feels like he wanted to cram the story full of clever twists, but he just ends up giving the reader whiplash.

Basically, X-Men Noir: Mark of Cain is a disappointment.  After reading it I can totally understand why Marvel stopped producing the Noir line.

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