“A+X” continues to demonstrate that its quality is entirely dependent on the creator choices and character pairings featured in each issue. Fortunately for readers, “A+X” #5 is one of the best yet with chemistry laden pairings of Iron Fist plus Doop and Mr. Sinister plus Kid Loki, written and illustrated by the excellent Kathryn Immonen and David LaFuente and Kieron Gillen and Joe Bennett, respectively.
Though both stories are good, of the two, Immonen and LaFuente’s Iron Fist and Doop offering “Epic Matryoshka” is the superior, in part because it’s just pound for pound funnier, and when you’re dealing with inconsequential short stories, good laughs carry a lot of weight. Iron Fist and Doop are the team-up you’ve dreamed of your whole life without ever realizing it. Their chemistry is undeniably hilarious and LaFuente draws them perfectly. They are somehow both absurd and utterly believable as LaFuente imagines them and the story is filled with beautiful energy and pitch perfect storytelling. Immonen’s entry to the story, which starts at the end and then comes back around in the same place, but with an utterly different meaning, is brilliant. It’s exactly the kind of inventive storytelling you need in a short like this to make it feel worth your while.
Kieron Gillen and Joe Bennett’s villainous take on the “A+X” idea, pairing up Mr. Sinister and Kid Loki — two of Gillen’s favorite characters — for a heist on Dr. Doom (or Von Doom as Kid Loki insists) is a good tale as well. With lovely detailed illustration work by Bennett and moody appropriately gloomy colors by Jim Charalampidis, it’s not as fun as the first story, but it has its charms. While it doesn’t have the great hook or humor that Immonen’s story does, it’s a cool look at two characters we never have the opportunity to see together and Gillen does some clever things in his pages, like having Sinister use a modified Dazzler power — turning sound to light — as a weapon to keep Kid Loki from speaking his words of magic. The idea of Sinister with an arsenal of modified mutant super powers (like his Cyclops eyes as “laser blast bullets”) alone is almost worth the price of admission.
Though this issue is undeniably fun, it’s still a lot of money for two 10-page short stories that are, by their own admission, of no consequence, except as a good time. But when they hit like these two do, they are indeed a very good time, and better than many of the more “important” comics I read on a weekly basis. If “A+X” can continue delivering creative teams and short comics of this caliber I may have to keep reading despite the price tag. Your move, Marvel.