The Juggernaut is a character who’s clearly always captured the imagination of a lot of readers. He’s an X-Men foe who’s returned time and time again and, in more recent years, had a stint as a hero as well as becoming depowered when Colossus briefly took over the Juggernaut title. So with Christopher Yost’s second storyline on “Amazing X-Men” involving the demonic Cytorrak trying to create a new Juggernaut, expectations were certainly high. So far, though, Yost and Jorge Fornes’s storyline quickly falls into the same trap that “World War Wendigo” did: there’s not enough plot to sustain the number of issues allocated.
Almost all of “Amazing X-Men” #16 is devoted to the X-Men fighting off various villains showing up to try and claim the Ruby of Cytorrak, along with a demonic guardian sent by Cytorrak himself. There’s very little actual plot here, just a lot of fighting. Yost stacks the deck against the X-Men by creating artificial restraints too; Rachel being unable to use her telepathy (except when to serve as some sort of early warning siren) is the most notable, but almost as painful are moments like when Crossbones holds Firestar captive with a knife for a while until she finally decides to use her power to instantly incapacitate him; this adds in an artificial element of danger that clearly didn’t exist.
In the end, this is the same problem that “World War Wendigo” had at its core. Characters are placed into holding patterns so that most developments can be deferred until the next chapter (or beyond). Colossus and Pixie’s storyline barely advances at all here, and it’s hard to keep from noting that they’ve yet to actually catch up with everyone else.
Fornes’s art is erratic, which is ultimately a frustrating experience. There are some scenes that look great in this issue: page 2, in particular, looks fantastic with Cain’s farm in Utah bursting to life. Rachelle Rosenberg’s choices of colors make the flowers look gorgeous, and I like the silhouette of Cain as he looks up when Cytorrak beckons him. It’s a well-constructed page and, if every one of them was along these lines, I’d be delighted. However, turn the page and we have a truly awful expression on Cain and it’s also hard to ignore that there’s no backgrounds for almost all of this issue, just various flat colors that Rosenberg has slapped in to at least vary things up a bit. Add in some inexplicably bulky torsos on characters like Iceman and Northstar and a problematic missing beard just in time for the cliffhanger and the end result is less than satisfying.
I like the character of the Juggernaut, and the first issue of this storyline showed some real promise. Now that we’re into the second installment, it feels like this book is back to its old tricks and that’s not a good thing.