X-Treme X-Men #2

"X-Treme X-Men" #2 gets hit pretty hard by outcome not matching the talent involved. The opening panel gets that ball rolling with a drawing from series' artist Stephen Segovia depicting an alternate version of Angel (Archangel?) waggling what looks like either a malformed sea anemone or five-legged crab at the reader. As it turns out, it's his hand. I was willing to let that slide a bit, but facing that panel -- on the very next page! -- a word-balloon is credited off-panel and continues to the next panel. The problem with that is the character speaking, James Howlett, is IN the panel! From there I found a few other lettering bobbles and Howlett's claws are variable gold and gray, depending on the page and the action.

Paging away from the distractions, I was able to find a story that wasn't all bad, but also wasn't all good. Greg Pak makes no bones about placing Dazzler front and center in this series with all of her personality quirks and insecurities. That doesn't make Dazzler any more likeable, but it does provide a peek into the character's mind as she tries to find her path. Her traveling companions, save Kid Nightcrawler, are just different enough from their counterparts to be alternate takes of their main Marvel Universe selves. Emmeline Frost is cold-hearted and treacherous, Howlett is worldly-wise and bossy and Charles Xavier, despite being a head in a bubble, is about as boring as he can be.

Segovia's characters fill the space well, but the near constant worm's eye view perspective for panels leaves me feeling flat. That angle is a nice dramatic choice once in a while, but I don't enjoy spending almost half an issue looking up characters' noses, especially when another character in the panel appears to be drawn from a completely different point of view. Furthermore, simple conversation between two characters loses the connectivity when depicted from that angle. In some more traditional panel setups, Segovia shines through. His characters have moments where they struggle with sameface (especially Dazzler and Emmeline) but he provides enough other clues to help the reader distinguish between characters. Unfortunately, those instances are virtually buried in up-nose shots throughout "X-Treme X-Men" #2.

Dazzler and company are a pale substitute for Blink and her crew from "Exiles," a title that blazed the trail for alternate-reality hopping adventure series. I really want to like what Pak and Segovia are doing here, but after two issues, I've come to the startling realization that maybe I just simply want "Exiles" back.

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