As an X-Men fan, I’m genuinely unsure where this is supposed to sit in the line. Astonishing X-Men is the “prestige” series for big creators to do their own thing. “Uncanny” is head of the line. “Legacy” focuses on Rogue and the mutant stragglers with no home of their own. The new adjectiveless title is… what? The mutants-vs.-vampires series? I’m genuinely unsure, and the absolute lack of a clear identity means that I can’t imagine I’ll stick with this past the first arc unless it suddenly snaps into focus.
There’s nothing particularly objectionable about Gischler’s writing, although his vampiric dialogue does tend towards being a bit vampire-by-numbers, particularly where Jubilee’s transformation is concerned. There’s also the disappointing fact that the strongly-defined politics of various vampire castes, defined in the “Death of Dracula” one-shot, have fallen instantly by the wayside. It may be an X-Men title, so the focus on them is understandable, but reducing the villains to rent-a-vamp status has eliminated what little appeal they held.
The appearance of Blade makes perfect sense, and it’s nice to see him acknowledge Logan (and the rest of the team) without the customary Hero Vs. Hero misunderstanding — but, at the same time, the willingness with which he accepts the plan to resurrect Dracula is baffling. His argument that you wouldn’t resurrect Hitler to fight Saddam Hussein makes more than a little sense, and I hope for the sake of his credibility that he’s simply biding his time instead of deferring to Cyclops’ orders following comparatively weak objections.
Paco Medina seems poorly-cast as the artist, with his cartoony, exaggerated style lending itself more readily to stories with a lighter tone, while his attempt to juggle the cast leads to pages looking cramped and disorganised. The opening sequence featuring Wolverine and Colossus is a high point, but beyond that it veers between acceptable and confusing, with Blade’s introduction being particularly confusing, as he appears to slit the throat of a beast positioned behind him, while pointing the sword towards someone else entirely.
It’s fair to say that there’s nothing hugely deficient about this story. It just feels like a pair of relatively green creators doing a fairly routine X-Men story which was thrust into the spotlight without a clear mandate. While the X-Men fan in me can’t help but enjoy Jubilee’s return to the spotlight, there’s nothing here that makes me think the story was so good that it needed an entirely new series to contain it. Marvel has admitted getting over-enthusiastic about a series’ ongoing prospects in the past. Based on this issue’s inoffensive, if unengaging story, I’m more convinced than ever that “X-Men” will prove itself to be mainly a barometer for the market’s ability to absorb another X-Men title — and that’s not a healthy opinion for a comic to inspire.