Sunday, 28 September 2014

A + X, Volume 3: Outstanding Review (Gerry Duggan, Howard Chaykin)

A + X was a series of two half-issue stories per issue where an Avenger and an X-Man would team-up and have an adventure or something. I’m talking in the past tense because this series is now cancelled and not without good reason - it sucked! And, by this third (and final) volume, Marvel had abandoned the concept altogether, bringing in Gerry Duggan to write a continuous 6 half-issues-long (3 full issues) story featuring Cap and Cyclops. 

The move backfired because the Duggan story is by far the least interesting in the anthology. Cap wants to arrest Cyclops, they fight, they meet a Skrull who used to be a student of Professor X’s, Doom is involved, there’s some crap about cows infected with Skrull DNA (I guess the nights are long and lonely…) and, finally, it’s over. It’s a totally forgettable and boring story. 

The shorts aren’t much better with Howard Chaykin contributing a story about Emma Frost asking Black Widow to help her retrieve a sex tape with her in it. It’s a so-so story that could’ve been way funnier if Chaykin were a better writer. And his art is horrendous. I’ve never understood exactly why he’s considered a comics master, he makes Emma Frost look like a booze-wrecked baglady! 

The other stories are as piss-poor: Doctor Strange and Beast help a possessed yoga group while arguing which is better, science or magic; Amazing Spider-Man has a bizarre encounter with Psylocke, holding her while she dies (!?); the Vision and Kitty Pryde battle ghosts in one of Arcade’s old death traps; and Superior Spider-Man and Magneto beat MODOK embarrassingly easily (though I did like the 8-bit graphics page). 

The only story I actually enjoyed was the Iron Man/Broo short, where Broo job shadows Tony for the day. At first Tony’s resistant but Broo wins him over and the two become buddies. It’s very sweet and quite fun too, especially if you like Broo, but isn’t nearly enough to make this book worth picking up (if you want to read more Broo, check out the vastly better series, Wolverine and the X-Men by Jason Aaron). 

A + X could’ve been a more fun series if the stories hadn’t been so generically superhero-ish and been a bit more silly. I suppose then the stories would be more throwaway, but they’d at least be different from the rest of Marvel’s catalogue. Some of the best stories (all in Volume 1 of this series) did exactly that, but over the next couple volumes this was ditched in favour of bland action rubbish - a different kind of throwaway story! 

Is this series worth reading? Not really, and neither is this volume.

A+X Volume 3: Outstanding

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