The best of “A+X” have presented smart stories that show a new side to the characters they feature. At the very least, they’ve managed to be highly funny and charming. Unfortunately, “A+X” #11 fails on both levels, as each story in it would have been better off unpublished — a particular shame considering the $3.99 price tag.
Benson and Texeira’s tale featuring Thor and Magik is rote and does neither character a service, though Magik certainly fares better. Accidently jaunted to Limbo, Thor fights his way through demons when Magik comes to politely escort him out. He refuses to be helped and so a pointless battle ensues, mostly one of Magik watching Thor fight demons, but occasionally of them warring with one another. Zero character development is achieved, no jokes are enjoyed, and the action is aimless. In Thor’s case, when it comes to character, it feels like he moves backward to the most stereotypical and shallow version of Thor, which comes off as incredibly boring.
Texeira’s art is painfully inconsistent. It’s occasionally strong, feeling energized and frantic, but other times it feels thin and rushed. He excels at delivering a sexy curvaceous Magik, though he takes extreme liberties with her design, and sometimes the coloring is incorrect, making the costume appear even more inaccurate. Given the primary location (Limbo) I would have expected an artist of Texeira’s caliber to go a bit more wild, but the end result is much more controlled and mundane than the location and the artist warrant.
Ron Lim and Chris Sotomayor’s art in the second half of the book doesn’t fare much better, as the paint-by-numbers story written by Jim Krueger has Cyclops chasing the villain Malice, and then Spider-Man coming to save the day (and wrapping everything up conveniently off panel). It’s as pointless as a story gets, short or otherwise. Utterly lacking in charm, it’s overwritten, but with nothing of significance to actually say, except some mindless preaching, paired with passionless rote visuals, it’s a slog to even get through. The fact that the story spends whole pages detailing Cyclops heavy-handed internal narration as he chases Malice only to have Spider-Man swing in, trade some punches with Cyclops, and then magically solve the (very big) problem that Malice presents off-panel is ridiculous. It’s the definition of poorly constructed, too-convenient storytelling.
As always, and like any short story collection, “A+X” as a title, is a gamble. “A+X” #11 doesn’t pay off in any way, shape or form. Save your money for an issue of “A+X” with some creators you love and trust and skip this one.