The idea behind the “X-Men: Blind Science” one-shot is a good one. Take the remaining members of the X-Men’s science team (aka the X-Club) and give them their own story. Matt Fraction has done this once already in “Uncanny X-Men,” and it was a concept that made me want to see more of these characters in their own story down the line. In the case of “X-Men: Blind Science,” though, what we get is a story that tips its hand far too early for the big “twist” ending, and one that leaches all subtlety out of some of the characters.
Writer Simon Spurrier’s overall plot isn’t too bad, as Kavita Rao, Madison Jeffries, and Dr. Nemesis are yanked to the future to discover just what will happen if the X-Men somehow win. With the world now a shambles, they need to figure out how to act in either the future or the present to try and right things. Spurrier focuses on Kavita for his main character, and as a centerpiece to the story she’s not bad. She certainly comes across the most “normal” of the three, and since an idea of hers is central to the story, it makes sense to stick with her.
It’s actually a relief that he doesn’t focus as much on the other two members of the team, since Spurrier throws away a lot of characterization as he writes the issue. Madison at least comes across as a non-entity more than anything else, although Spurrier seems to have decided somewhere along the way that Madison is slightly mentally impaired. Still, that’s better than Dr. Nemesis, who sounds like someone took every single line of dialogue from a sarcastic Warren Ellis character and then randomly strung them together. Never mind that it doesn’t fit Dr. Nemesis (who was never this level of over the top), it’s distracting and borders on awful. If you didn’t know better you’d think this was a parody comic to roast Ellis as a writer, but instead it just feels lazy and annoying.
As for the plot itself, I don’t think many readers will be fooled by the 11th hour twist from Spurrier. All it takes is stopping to think about the premise of this one-shot (doubly so as it’s a tie-in and not a full blown part of the story) to figure out the surprise, and from there the ending is signposted a mile away. I think part of the problem is that because Spurrier saves the surprise until the last five pages, it’s drawn out for far too long. Had Spurrier revealed it at the halfway point and then moved forward from there, I think it might’ve gone over a bit better.
Paul Davidson’s art is wildly variable from one page to the next. It’s hard to ignore instances early on where he seems to have drawn Madison once but then pasted the image into three panels in a row, for example, especially since Madison looks like a vacant-eyed idiot in that original drawing. His poses are hard to swallow at times, too; seeing Kavita suddenly shift from hiding from the enemy to a classic “thinker” pose when asked a question just looks awkward and strange. Some of his basic character designs aren’t bad, but there’s never two pages in a row where something doesn’t stand out as looking not quite right.
“X-Men: Science Club” was a great idea, but these normally fun characters deserved a better solo outing. Maybe once “Second Coming” is over someone else can tackle the group and see what they can do, but for now in an overall good storyline this has felt rather “eh.”