Overview

X-Men #184

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X-Men #184

Credits

  • Words: Peter Milligan
  • Art: Salvador Larroca
  • Inks: Salvador Larroca
  • Colors: Jason Keith
  • Story Title: The Blood of Apocalypse Part 3: War?What is it Good For?
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.50
  • Release Date: Mar 22, 2006

The Sentinels are downed, Famine is captured, and Ozymandias is scheming. After all that, a new Death is revealed to torment the X-Men.

In case you don’t read X-Men, yes, Apocalypse has returned from the dead...again. This time he has machinations of being a Messiah for the mutant masses who, after M-Day, have gone from the millions to the hundreds. After landing his ship/sphinx on the grounds of Xavier’s, he releases Famine (a transformed Sunfire) and the mutants grow so hungry many of them drink of Apocalypse’s blood which holds powerful properties I can only assume will be revealed later. Many of the 198 sway to Apocalypse’s side and the X-Men are forced to battle those they were protecting. In issue #184 the fight escalates and Ozymandias plots, leading the X-Men into a confrontation with Apocalypse, War, and a new Death (if you read issue #183 you know who it is, but I’ll never tell).

Peter Milligan’s work on X-Men has been at times surreal, at other times standard superhero fair, which creates a weird, insecure feeling for the book. From their encounter with Lovecraftian aliens to Mystique’s arrival and subsequent mischief leading to this newest rehash of Apocalypse’s return, Milligan is trying to mix Marvel-esque superheroing with his own brand of twisted storytelling. In this instance, it works. I have been a fan of Milligan for some time and find his style to be at worst amusing and at best enlightening. While I frown on bringing back a villain who has died and died again, Milligan is doing it in a way that adds a new level of characterization to En-Sabah-Nur (Apocalypse). He is different than ever before, showing signs of weakness and self-doubt. He almost balks at the idea of children dying from Pestilence’s power where once he would have killed them with his own hands for being weak. Whether this is a remnant of the time he shared a body with Cyclops, a new development stemming from M-Day, or some other third thing, Milligan isn’t telling. But he will keep you guessing.

As the story moves, hints of things to come are given through the actions and words of all the characters, and there are several. But perhaps the best part of this book is the backup tale focusing on one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse and how he came to be. We see what motivates the new Death, what his plans are, why he does what he does, and the tragic results that follow. This is where Milligan shines, bringing life, depth, and complexities to a character I, for one, have never really cared for.

Salvador Larroca’s art is just as shiny. He has been drawing the X-Men in one incarnation or another for a few years now and his work has a unique quality that clearly makes him one to be remembered. Using a mixture of pencils, inks, and washes, Larroca creates an environment that always fits the mood of the story. Right now, the tale being told in X-Men is decidedly dark and the art reflects that. There is heavy shading and shadows lurking everywhere as though something else is waiting in the black to be released and plague the X-Men. In addition to the bleak look of the book, the detail is staggering. Hieroglyphs abound in splash pages and individual panels that make me ooh and ah as I think about the intricacy of detail. These images and the others can and should be appreciated for what they are: great works of art.

In the end, though a villain who has returned from the dead more than enough times does so again, Milligan puts his own unique spin on it and Larroca gives it an artistic feel that, thanks to his time spent on the book, feels distinctly like X-Men.

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