Up until now, I think it’s safe to say that most readers have been entertained if not exactly blown away by the new “X-Men” monthly series. It’s been a fairly standard story about a vampire invasion of San Francisco, but the action’s moved at a good enough pace and there’s been some nice forward momentum with each issue.
Now that we’re at “X-Men” #4, though, that momentum is definitely slowing down, and it’s hard to not feel like this initial storyline didn’t actually need to be six issues long. It’s not a bad comic, and if anything it takes the vampire invasion scenario and extrapolates it fairly logically. The vampire numbers are growing, so Cyclops sends the X-Men out in teams of two to start hunting down the vampires and saving the human population of San Francisco. The problem is, that’s practically all that happens. We watch Blade and Angel attack vampires, and Cyclops and Xarus throw threats back and forth on their video screen. (It’s nice that Xarus just happens to have one, too.) I’m actually a little surprised we didn’t see the bulk of this issue turned into yet another “Curse of the Mutants” one-shot called something like, “X-Men Kick Vampire Butt.” While this feels like something that would’ve happened sooner or later, it doesn’t stop from this issue feeling largely irrelevant.
The saving grace for “X-Men” #4 is the art from Paco Medina and Juan Vlasco. I like how he draws his characters, from Scott’s heroic face but only slightly-above-average body (this is the guy that used to be called “Slim” after all), to Wolverine’s “I am now evil and therefore slightly sleazy” bathrobe. (The pants slightly ruin the effect, though.) A handful of the characters seem slightly off-model (Madison Jeffries looks more like Cable than himself, and Jubilee appears way older than Gischler is writing her) but I’m willing to let those go as Medina’s own interpretations of the characters. On the whole, it’s an energetic, attractive style and I love that he’s on a monthly book that I’m reading again.
I give Gischler credit for trying to keep all of his cards on the table, even down to a brief mention of the recently resurrected Dracula so we don’t forget that he’s back in the picture (despite not appearing at all this issue). That said, Cyclops’s response (“That hasn’t played out yet. Remember that.”) might as well have a big neon flashing arrow while we’re at it, the line is so blatant. “X-Men” needs to get its momentum back, though; with an already crowded marketplace, slowing down so early in a series’ life is probably the worst thing it can do.