X-Men #39

Story by
Art by
Paul Azaceta, Matthew Southworth
Colors by
Rico Renzi, Lee Loughridge
Letters by
Joe Caramagna
Cover by
Marvel Comics

After a strong Brian Wood run on adjectiveless "X-Men," this title has a lot to live up to, but Seth Peck, Paul Azaceta and Matthew Southworth deliver a surprisingly compelling issue despite some obvious obstacles.

This was such a strange reading experience for me, because on the one hand the basic plot is cliche-ridden -- soldier's family dies horribly, soldier accidentally becomes bad guy out of revenge and desperation. It's something that is frequently used badly. However, every time the book veers toward the cliff of cliche, Peck pulls it back with smart self-awareness and a wink and a nudge that helps to recognize the cliche and almost un-arm it, if you will. He saves the story this way repeatedly. Every time I felt a groan coming on due to the rote aspects of the plot, Peck rescued it from the fire. It was rather impressive.

A lot of this book is actually Domino and Daredevil having surprisingly personal conversations (for Domino at least) on the backdrop of some cool action and the issue draws some nice contrasts as a result. It's also not dissimilar to the way that Peck allows some cliche in his story, but then circumvents it by having his characters acknowledge the cliche. On the whole it's deceptively smart.

That said, the book would have benefited from more consideration regarding Domino and Daredevil's narration. The narration needed to focus on one character, or alternately, to find a better balance between the characters. As it is now, the narration feels rather random.

The art is not going to be for everyone, but I enjoyed the simplicity of Azaceta and Southworth's style and found it reminiscent of more classic superhero comics, especially with Rico Renzi and Lee Loughridge's flat vibrant colors. The action is totally compelling and the storytelling is easy to follow. It also has a fun and freewheeling vibe fitting for Daredevil and Domino, as well as the mission they're on.

In retrospect, Peck's ability to rescue this book from banality time and again feels even more impressive given that Domino is the central character, for what is Domino except a character that time and again rescues situations from their foregone conclusions.

Tom King
Tom King Almost Wrote a Fantastic Four Comic Before Signing with DC

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