X-Treme X-Men #1

Marvel has had some excellent number one offerings over the past year, including knockouts like "Wolverine and The X-Men" and "Ultimate Comics Spider Man." Unfortunately "X-Treme X-Men" does not hold to the same standard. "X-Treme X-Men" #1 primarily led by Greg Pak and Stephen Segovia is a bizarre mishmash of characters and art that never comes together.

This book actually begins and ends on an interesting note, but all the pages in-between are a serious problem. Opening with a bunch of "Xavier heads" linked up and given a seemingly impossible directive in another universe, it's an idea that is both intriguing and funny, certainly enough to make you want to read on.

Unfortunately what follows -- a forced reintroduction to Alison Blaire (Dazzler) filled with inconsequential and confusing moments, such as a brief love interest who is impossible to care about and a Dazzler impersonator (as if we needed more confusing elements here). There's also a completely unbelievable opportunity to show up Scott Summers, perhaps in a mislead attempt to prove Dazzler's value after so long on the bench?

Universes then bizarrely collide and heavy hitters like Cyclops sit uselessly on the sidelines while Dazzler helps James Howlett, Emmeline Frost-Summers and Kurt Waggoner fight a giant squid that's come through a portal with them. In the end Dazzler and the three alternate universe characters go back through the portal, kill the squid and get set on their new mission. The plotting makes little sense, even to someone familiar with the characters. I can't imagine a new reader having a clue what's going on.

The art is stunningly inconsistent. There are a few nice moments, but even those are overwhelmed by sloppy work. Upper lips disappear as soon as characters smile, a cowboy hat never actually sits on Dazzler's head but floats bizarrely and a lot of fussy line work clutters up both the storytelling and character work. The writing is equally clunky and overly done, with "personality" being injected into Dazzler's every line, I suppose in an attempt to make her unique, but it backfires, only succeeding in making her more grating.

There's an interesting idea buried in here somewhere -- "travel between dimensions to kill ten evil Xaviers that have been created!" -- but it's almost utterly lost in all the other noise of the book. "X-Treme X-Men" #1 is a complete misfire for a new series, which is a shame because in the past Marvel has proved they know how to do compelling things with alternate universe stories. Maybe next time.

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