It’s been a little hard to figure out exactly where “X-Men” fits into the grander X-Book line, but with this issue I feel like it’s found its niche. “Uncanny X-Men” is the big crazy ideas from Matt Fraction, mixed with social issues. “X-Men Legacy” is now looking towards the new generation of mutants with Rogue as a mentor. “Astonishing X-Men” is that strange second cousin that shows up once in a blue moon at a family reunion that is otherwise not talked about. And the new “X-Men” book?
Well, it’s the traditional superhero/action comic, in short. Reading “X-Men” #3, I couldn’t help but feel the whole way through that it’s a solid, entertaining comic that uses a lot of the superhero tropes that “Uncanny X-Men” has quietly discarded over the past year. So we’ve got Wolverine fighting vampires trying to save Jubilee, a resurrected Dracula declining to help the X-Men (even though you just know that before it’s all over, he’ll come back around and help land the decisive blow to defeat Xarus), and the X-Men’s Science Team injecting Wolverine with a mysterious concoction that you know will ultimately help wipe out the 12,000 vampires in the San Francisco area.
So yeah, it’s the traditional superhero comic. There’s nothing wrong with that; if anything I think it has the possibility to serve up what some other fans are no doubt wishing they were getting in “Uncanny X-Men.” (Personally, Uncanny is my favorite of the X-Books overall, but I can understand wanting to have an X-Men title for each group of readers to call their favorite.) The one downside to this is that so far it’s not “appointment” reading; with the future of the mutant race currently running in “Uncanny X-Men,” there’s a certain urgency that’s built up over the past six months there, and “X-Men” just doesn’t have it. Maybe it’s because right now the story feels slightly predictable, but while I’m enjoying it, there isn’t a burning desire to find out what happens next and right away at that.
On the other hand, it is a pleasure to see Paco Medina’s pencils on a monthly basis. For the most part I love his art; Wolverine comes across as the short wall of muscle and power that he should be drawn as, Cyclops has that tall and stoic look about him, and even minor characters like Doctor Nemesis are given attention to look good. For most of the characters, I feel like Medina and Juan Vlasco have nailed their appearances. The two big exceptions, though, are Storm and Jubilee. Medina doesn’t seem to have quite figured out how to draw Storm’s outfit, which on occasion seems to look more like random towels are attached to and hanging off of her bustier. (And when Storm first appears, her face looks slightly out of kilter and I started to wonder if she had just been punched and was supposed to not look quite right.) Jubilee also looks far too old now; her transformation into vampire bad girl has made her into a traditional busty woman in black leather (or perhaps PVC) and if I didn’t know it was supposed to be Jubilee I’d never have guessed.
Still, overall it’s an entertaining read, although in order to survive (or at least maintain a respectable sales velocity compared to its brethren) there needs to be a bit more urgency and excitement in its stories. That’s the one hook that’s missing, and considering how much attention they’re lavishing on this initial story, it’s a tiny bit worrisome that it hasn’t appeared yet. Still, there’s time. For now I’m along for the ride, but before too long it’s going to need to step up a notch.