It’s been years since I’ve made any attempt to keep up with the X-Men and within the first few pages of Necrosha it became clear that a lot has changed. Apparently Rogue’s in a position of authority, Magneto’s on the team (didn’t he die?), and there’s a passel of young ladies on the team that I’ve never seen before. Some things remain constant, however. First, it is still a futile effort to pick up one volume of a big X-Men crossover event and try to understand everything that’s going on. Second, Marvel still knows how to make entertaining popcorn comics with enough punching and explosions that one needn’t know every character’s history or understand every plot point.
So, the plot, as best I understood it: some sort of techno-virus is bringing dead mutants back to life as mindless killing machines and the X-Men are up to their elbows in undead teammates and enemies. Meanwhile, vampire mutant Selene, who’s partially responsible for the undead horde, sends her goons to kidnap prognosticating mutant Destiny. Destiny contacts up-and-coming psychic mutant Blindfold, a member of the X-Men, and tips her off that while the X-Men fight a bunch of zombies on Utopia another threat looms on Muir Island. So Rogue, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Magneto, Psylocke, Blindfold, Trance, and Husk pile into a jet, shoot off to Muir Island, and end up duking it out with uber-badguy Proteus.
I picked this book up because it’s written by Mike Carey, author of piles of stuff including Lucifer and The Unwritten. There’s no trace of those sorts of mythic, literary themes here. This story is full of angst, in-fighting, and sexual tension – standard X-Men stuff. That said, it’s done well. The story moves along coherently and at a good pace. The dialogue is believable (except for the forced bits of German and Southern from Nightcrawler and Rogue, respectively – I know these are standard but I’ve never been a fan). Perhaps most importantly, characters use their powers in interesting ways that lead to some cool visual moments.
This book is full of high-energy, high-gloss superhero art with dynamic panel composition, shiny color and light effects, and good acting. There’s not a lot to set it apart from other X-books, but it looks good, all very slick and hard with a foreboding color palette. The last issue in this volume is a short story unconnected to the main action and is done by a different art team working in a distinct style. It’s much more lush and romantic (and cheesecake-y) and made for a nice change of pace.
I enjoyed this volume enough that I sought out other books in the Necrosha event, trying to flesh out what was going on around this story. I quickly discovered that I don’t have that large an appetite for X-Men comics. Readers who, like me, enjoy a small taste of X-Men now and then would do well to pick this book up. Devoted X-Men fans are going to read Necrosha regardless of quality, but will be happy to hear that it’s good. New X-Men readers will find that this is not the mythical “good place to start.” There are a lot of characters who get no particular introduction or backstory. Of course, I’m not convinced that there ever will be a good place to start, so aspiring X-fans may as well start here, enjoy some quality comics, and muddle through the details as best they can.
It’s worth noting that this material has been collected before. The original monthly comics came out in 2010 and were collected along with several other titles from the Necrosha event in 2010’s X-Necrosha.