Curse of the Mutants: X-Men vs. Vampires #1

What's that? Another X-Men event or era has begun? Well then, that means that it must be time for another X-Men anthology comic. And so, sure enough, "Curse of the Mutants: X-Men vs. Vampires" was born, although this time (perhaps because of all of the "Curse of the Mutants" one-shots) it's just two issues instead of four. The good news? There are a couple of contributors whose work is nice to see. The bad news? Overall, and perhaps it has to do with the general concept, it's a lackluster issue.

James Asmus and Tom Raney kick off the comic with "From Husk Til Dawn" as Husk goes in search of her missing friend and former Generation X teammate Jubilee. Tom Raney's art is just as I remembered it, fluid and full-bodied. Raney draws Husk as a solid and strong looking character, and I appreciate that he understands that slightly voluptuous does not have to mean ridiculously exaggerated. Asmus' story has a nice central concept, but at eight pages it actually comes across as slightly padded. Once the twist on how Husk is going to defeat the vampires is revealed, the story drags a bit towards the finish line.

Pacing is also slightly off in the next piece, "I'm Gonna Stake You, Sucka" by Christopher Sequeira and Sana Takeda. Like before, there's a good concept here, this time with showing that not all vampires are simply bloodsuckers out for death and destruction. It's all presented in a rush at the end, though, and I'd have rather seen it expanded a bit more; one of the four pages of fight scene could have been easily sacrificed for it. There's also a slight logic jump in the story, with the group of vampires earlier on being allied to the main villain of the crossover Lord Xarus, but later talking about how they stay out of the outside world's scuffles. Takeda's art isn't bad in a manga-influenced manner, although her visual depiction of Dazzler's laser looks more like an attack from Tickle Me Elmo. Considering she's in many ways one of the most powerful X-Men, Takeda's style makes her seem much weaker than she should be.

Peter David and Mick Bertilorenzi tackle "Rue Blood," which gets some points for a slightly inventive take on who the main character of the story is, and what exactly is going on. I like David's idea of what would happen if Rogue tried to drain the personality of a vampire, and it's easily the strongest of the four scripts for this issue. Bertilorenzi's art feels the most erratic in the book, though; in some panels Rogue's face is so gaunt she looks like a skeleton, in others she's got a round face, and Ernst doesn't look wrinkled but rather like she's grown sideburns and whiskers. He's got some potential, with some pages in particular reminding me of early art from Peter Snejbjerg, but some more consistency is needed.

"Survivors" by Rob Williams and Doug Braithwaite is the final main feature. Magneto facing a face from the past comes across a little too convenient (of course he's going to run into someone he knew in 1942 that since became a vampire, right?), and the story in general is a little flat. Braithwaite's art is awfully pretty, though, and it's been a while since I've seen a comic drawn by him. A couple of the pages feel a bit too heavily photo-referenced for my taste, but on the whole it's an attractive final look.

The comic wraps up with the first half of a reprint of "Uncanny X-Men" #159, where Storm is briefly turned into a vampire. Since they've been referencing Storm's relationship with Dracula throughout this crossover, it's a logical story to reprint. It does serve as a reminder, though, on how much more plot Chris Claremont was able to pack into issues of "Uncanny X-Men" back then; it certainly makes all of these stories feel a bit slower by way of comparison. "Curse of the Mutants: X-Men vs. Vampires" is ultimately not a bad comic, but it's not a great one either. We've seen much better in the way of X-Men anthologies before.

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