Comixology Sale Picks: X-Men (Vol. 3)

Comixology Sale Picks: X-Men (Vol. 3)
It's been a while, but there's finally another Comixology sale that requires a little guidance. This time, it's X-Men, Volume 3, the series that was eventually revealed to be an X-Men Team-Up title, though by the time people realised that it stopped being one. There are a few arcs here, and - advance warning - most of them are not great. Nothing is flatly incompetent, so if you like the premise enough to spend money you probably won't be disappointed, but at the same time it's hard to defend it against accusations that it's 41 issues of filler. Definitely not a proud era in the X-Men's history. Still, here's our guide to what worked and what didn't.

Curse of the Mutants (#1-6, #11, #24-#27)

Victor Gischler's opening arc on the book pits the X-Men against Marvel's re-vamped (no pun intended) stable of vampires. And if you think that sounds quite tedious, you'd be correct. Nothing against Gischler, who at least wrote a really good Spike miniseries for Dark Horse, but this is not a story I enjoyed.

Still if you are planning to read this, it's actually a mini-crossover which kicks off in Death of Dracula and ties into a bunch of (non-essential) specials that aren't on Comixology (CotM: Storm & Gambit, CotM: Blade, CotM: X-Men Vs. Vampires, CotM: Smoke and Blood, in case you care), as well as the first arc of Namor's short-lived ongoing (the most recent one, I mean). Because if mutants vs. vampires isn't dull enough, how about atlanteans vs. vampires?

After that, there's a two-issue follow-up in Deadpool (non-sale issues #30 & #31), before it's back to the sale issues for another epilogue issue in X-Men #11. Then towards the end of his run, Gischler writes a 4-part sequel about Jubilee meeting her vampire kin, in X-Men #24-27.

The only reason to read any of this story, really, is if you're wondering how and when Jubilee became a vampire, and find that idea at all interesting. It happens in this story and I'm still bitter about how terrible a decision it was.
To Serve and Protect (#7-10)

Released towards the time of the first Amazing Spider-Man movie when everyone was doing Lizard stories in advance for the collections, this arc is a Spider-Man and X-Men team-up set in New York, and it's a lot better than the first arc. The villains are the Lizard and Dark Beast, which is a fairly sensible pairing, and it's mostly drawn by Chris Bachalo, which massively helps its case, though Paco Medina turns up as a fill in at the end. It's pretty straightforward, but Gischler has a good handle on spider-banter which makes it an enjoyable if slight story.
First to Last (#12-15)

Sigh. This story actually begins in X-Men: Giant Size #1, which Comixology has neglected to include in this sale. Once you've read that, it's straight through from #12 to #15, though. It's about a group attacking the X-Men in two time periods. So if you want to see the original X-Men in action... well, try All New X-Men, but you can also do it here. It's not a great story, really. Slow and plodding, and the Evolutionaries aren't very interesting as villains either. Still, this story does kill off The Neo. Not that anyone told Chris Claremont.
Ghost Rider (#15.1)

One of Marvel's ill-fated point one issues, this is a team-up between Ghost Rider (the female Ghost Rider of the era, that is) and a team of random X-Men. I reviewed it for CBR, back in the day. It isn't very good.
X-Men: FF (#16-19)

By this point the book's premise has wearied me. This time the X-Men team up with the Future Foundation to have an adventure tying into the long-forgotten 1970s series, Skull the Slayer. I trust that Victor Gischler was enjoying this, but in a world where there are so many other X-Men stories, there's nothing here to make it stand out in any meaningful way. It's just filling space.
War Machines (#20-23)

Another team-up! This time with War Machine! He's like the boring Iron Man! This is the first arc to happen after Schism and features the new "security team" angle, which positions the team as a group of X-Men who take out threats with some degree of forward planning. In this story they fight some Sentinels and nothing interesting happens. Another dud.
Skrull Infiltration (#28-29)

Gischler rounds off his run with a 2-parter that has a nice premise but underwhelming execution. At the time it wasn't helped by the proximity to Secret Invasion, which left everyone with Skrull fatigue. The story guest stars the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man, and artist Will Conrad is doing a passable Mike Deodato, but ultimately it's better in concept than execution.
The Proto-Mutants (#30-#37)

Incoming writer-artist team Brian Wood and David Lopez inject a serious dose of life into the book, improving the visuals and given the team some personality. The series also sheds its team-up remit, thankfully, leaving Wood to explore the inter-character relationships of the team itself. Sadly, the operating premise of the story - that the discovery of proto-mutants might rock the identities of mutants everywhere - never quite lands, and that threatens to drag the rest of the arc down with it. Still, it's about as close as this series gets to being interesting, and the whole arc looks fantastic.
Domino Vs. Daredevil (#38-#39)

Writer Seth Peck arrives to wrap the series up with two 2-parters. This is actually quite a fun idea, with two fairly acrobatic and daring characters teaming up to fight an arms dealer. Still, Paul Azaceta's art is lovely, and Daredevil is in full Mark Waid mode, so that's reason enough to give it a try.
The end of X-Men (#40-#41)

Peck closes out this era of the team by having the team fall apart due to the tensions introduced during Wood's run, and then Storm attempts to recruit their replacements. The new team has a fight with some vaguely super-powered mercenaries, then it's all over. There's good Adam Kubert cover on X-Men #41, but, er, that's it.

So not a strong run, all things considered, but there are some things worth checking out. Once again, you can access all of these issues in the current sale, today only.

Tags:  Marvel  X-Men  Victor Gischler