When the current series of “Amazing X-Men” debuted, it felt like a deliberate attempt reposition the title as one of the lead X-Men series (with Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness on board as the creators) instead of a forgotten X-Men title. But after an initial high-profile story to bring Nightcrawler back from the dead, “Amazing X-Men” seems to have already reverted to a second-tier X-book, and “Amazing X-Men” #12 does nothing to dissuade readers of that assessment.
The big problem here is that Craig Kyle and Chris Yost’s script brings nothing new to the comic that hasn’t been seen before. This is just about every Wendigo (or any other possession) story mashed together, but with a pacing that doesn’t require five issues by any stretch of the imagination. Every moment in this comic is heavily telegraphed or repeated from an earlier moment in the storyline, and sometimes it manages to do both at the same time.
Take, for example, Amber the young innocent bystander. If you were already getting tired of her being in danger and needing rescuing, well, prepare to see it again. She’s trotted out as a proxy for all of humanity being in danger, but there’s nothing remotely interesting about the little girl that is nothing more than a face with a name attached. There’s no discernable personality, nothing to make you care about this girl being in mortal danger other than Carlos Barberi drawing a Wendigo looming over her repeatedly.
Likewise, Guardian being swallowed by Tanaraq lacks any real emotional punch or danger. Not only is the moment inexplicably between panels — it takes a “CHOM!” sound effect to get the message across that Tanaraq just ate him — but if you don’t instantly know when and how Guardian will miraculously return and save the day, you’ve never seen any sort of superhero story in your life.
The bigger issue is that almost all of this installment is just a generic fight scene. There’s nothing new, nothing exciting, nothing that warrants this being part 5 of 5. This was a 3-part storyline at best, one that could have been pared down without losing a single plot progression. Instead it’s an “Alpha Flight” Greatest Hits album, throwing in all of the Great Beasts that appeared in the title over the years, but without any of their actual menace that John Byrne brought to their forms.
Barberi is joined by Iban Coello on pencils, but neither of them seem strong enough to be assigned to this title. Panel to panel progressions are somewhat muddled, like the earlier mentioned moment where Guardian is eaten. Even individual images are lacking a punch, though, due to artistic glitches. Take the moment where Colossus is stabbed by the Wolverine Wendigo from behind, for example. This could have been dramatic, with the claws sticking out of Colossus’s chest. Instead they’re drawn in a way where it looks like Wolverine’s claws are floating in front of Colossus; they don’t look like they’re coming out of Colossus’s body at all. It’s a dramatic moment ruined, and it’s a struggle that continues throughout the title. With five artists working on “Amazing X-Men” #12, it feels like the comic was put together well behind schedule, and this is the unfortunate end result.
“Amazing X-Men” #12 marks a moment where, in just twelve issues, this title has made itself irrelevant once again. With a fill-in and then an “AXIS” tie-in scheduled to round out the rest of the year, I’m not sure that status will change any time soon. What first felt like a great opportunity is now a title quietly limping towards what one can only expect will be a stealth cancellation. If this is the best that “Amazing X-Men” can do, maybe it’s time for one less X-Men title until there’s a proper reason to revive it.