I’m not sure why the “Nation X” mini-series isn’t working as well as some of the past anthology mini-series centered around the X-Men’s latest status quo. The basic thrust of the mutants living on the Utopia island has more potential than moving to San Francisco, but for some reason it just isn’t quite clicking.
That’s not to say that it’s a bad book by any means, though, but it feels like most stories here don’t quite hit the mark, lacking that extra-special punch. Chris Kim and Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s “Unresolved Issues” is a perfect example of this; I love Walta’s art (he did a great job on IDW’s creepy series, “The Veil”) with its murky, almost-underwater look. It’s a perfect look for the run-down area of the X-Brig, and Walta draws Danger looking much less streamlined and more like a machine than I’ve seen other artists. But the story doesn’t work well for its eight-page length; Kim has to resolve Armor and Danger’s conflict so quickly that it doesn’t feel convincing. It’s a good spark of an idea and uses its choice of characters perfectly, but it’s over so quickly that it feels disappointing.
Grace Randolph and James Harren run into a similar problem with “Big Boy Pants” as Anole’s annoyance with having to start a vegetable garden on Utopia runs him afoul of Magik. Randolph clearly understands the character of Magik and balances that good and nasty dichotomy of Illyana quite well. On the other hand, though, the story seems to not so much end as it does stall out. Corey Lewis’s “Cannonball” also suffers in terms of story; his hyper-kinetic art style is a visual breath of fresh air (although I’m sure it’ll divide readers evenly between fans and others), but the story actually doesn’t feel strong enough to even fill its pages. It’s a visual extravaganza but the story just never quite clicked (except for the “Our Bad” moment, which was good for a laugh).
I’m not sure what it says that “Boxes” by Chris Yost and Karl Moline is the strongest story here, and it’s actually serving as a prologue/epilogue to Yost having recently (and somewhat randomly) killed off Diamond Lil in an issue of “X-Force.” The death in that story was not only pointless but almost a background moment, the need for a death to occur to try and make the risen dead look tough. “Boxes” actually gives the character something to do other than die, serving as a character piece for her and Madison Jeffries. It’s frustrating because it shows the potential the character had to be a supporting cast member in “X-Men” titles, making this story almost like an apology after the fact. The two characters getting together was a long running story in “Alpha Flight” over the years, and watching it tossed away for a shock value moment was annoying. “Boxes” is good and sports some sharp art from Moline (I love the way he draws both characters), but it’s also a reminder of a seemingly random character death simply for the sake of upping the body count.
I have hopes the final issue next month will finally click everything into place; after all, Peter Milligan writing a Doop story holds great potential. But unfortunately, “Nation X” just as a whole hasn’t come together as well as it could, and that’s a real shame. In terms of story potential, this is the one that seems to be missing out on it the most.