X-Men #167


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X-Men #167


  • Words: Peter Milligan
  • Art: Salvador Larocca
  • Inks: Danny Miki
  • Colors: Liquid!
  • Story Title: Golgotha - Part 2: The Night of the Mutant
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.25
  • Release Date: Feb 23, 2005

Peter Milligan’s opening arc on X-Men continues, as the team tries to figure out what Golgotha is and why it is having a chilling effect on mutants.

Last issue opened with Havok taking his particular X-team down to Antarctica. The X-Men have received a distress call from what was thought to be a peaceful mutant community. However, when they arrived, they found many of the mutants to be dead, apparent victims of murder or suicide. In fact, they even witnessed one of them rip out his own heart. This issue sees the team seemingly find they were looking for, as they carry a piece of the monster back to the mansion. However, unbeknownst to them, the lasting effects of Golgotha have reached Los Angeles, as we witness a mutant riot that will no doubt have some serious impact on the X-Men.

To say that people were looking forward to Peter Milligan’s X-Men may be understating things a bit. Milligan has not only written Marvel mutants before (X-Force/Statix), but has given fandom a pretty good list of books to read. He works best when creating a sense of suspense and mystery, which he attempts to bring to his work on X-Men. The book feels like a horror book, which is a nice take on the X-Men. However, everything about this issue seems to fall flat. His dialogue in some cases is dead on, yet in others feels very generic. He moves the story from scene to scene, but without proper transition. He seems to be saying that the story must go on as planned, no matter how it ends up reading. And it really falters because of it. Secondary characters make statements that make little or no sense at all in attempts to further the story, and exposition, for some reason, isn’t seen as being important. One thing of note, Milligan, like every other X-writer today, has a real sense of Emma Frost. It’s amazing that it took Grant Morrison making her a “good guy” for everyone else to realize how much they liked to write her character.

For Salvador Larocca, Milligan is the 3rd X-writer that he has worked under recently. He went from Claremont to Austen and now Milligan. While it is nice to have some stability on the book and for it to have a “standard look” by maintaining one artist, here it causes some trouble. With Claremont and Austen, Larocca was drawing a straight superhero book.  He was asked to capture exaggerated characters and expressions.  There was little subtlety to the characters and stories under those writers. With Milligan, there is a lot in the subtleties and Larocca hasn’t gotten it yet.

Many of his panel designs and layouts are questionable in his choices. One small two panel sequence has a conversation between Havok and Logan. In just those two panels, he swings the perspective of the conversation so much that the reader has no idea where Havok is looking at the end. Also, many of his panels feel like they’re missing something.  On the first page the X-Men appear first we are given a small panel of the outside of the building with the word balloon, “That’s Golgotha?!?” The next panel is a large establishing shot of them walking through the power generation area of the Antarctic commune. One would think that the X-Men should be close enough to Golgotha to see it with a preceding comment like that, and in succeeding panels they do, so why isn’t Golgotha shown in the establishing shot? The reader later sees the monster as a giant, then how can he not have been shown earlier?  There are just too many times in this book that the reader will have to go back over a sequence in an attempt to fully understand what’s going on.

I really want to like this book. I enjoy Milligan’s other work. I’ve enjoyed Larocca’s artwork on previous X-books. I want to like it so much that I will give them this arc to see if Milligan and Larocca can both learn to work with each other’s strengths. Yet, if the rest of the arc remains as muddled and confusing as the first two issues, I won’t be reading it much longer.

- Sam Moyerman

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