Best Shots Review: WEAPONS OF MUTANT DESTRUCTION #1 'A Solid Opener... That Might Catch You By Surprise'

"Weapons of Mass Destruction #1" preview
Credit: Mahmud A. Asrar/Nolan Woodard/Joe Caramagna (Marvel Comics)
Credit: Skan (Marvel Comics)

Weapons of Mutant Destruction #1
Written by Greg Pak
Art by Mahmud Asrar and Nolan Woodard
Lettering by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Pierce Lydon
‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

Credit: Mahmud A. Asrar/Nolan Woodard/Joe Caramagna (Marvel Comics)

The summer solstice is upon us and comic books are gearing up for blockbuster season. While most of the Marvel Universe is caught up in Secret Empire, Amadeus Cho and the cast of Weapon X are up to something else entirely. Weapons of Mutant Destruction #1 brings Greg Pak’s two Marvel titles crashing together for the kind of crossover you might have imagined with your action figures once. Of course, Pak is able to elevate the concept a bit with help from artists Mahmud Asrar and Nolan Woodard and honestly, this is a pretty solid set-up for a somewhat unexpected crossover.

While Totally Awesome Hulk has been a generally well-received title, Weapon X has only ever felt bogged down by the machinations of its plot despite having a cast with lots of potential. By comparison, Weapons of Mutant Destruction feels like where that book should have started. Pak breezes through larger exposition. Basically all you need to know is that the Weapon X program and Reverend William Stryker are back. They are trying to create new weapons to make mutants extinct. Old Man Logan, Sabretooth, Warpath, Domino, and Lady Deathstrike are going to take them down but they need to enlist the help of Amadeus Cho. And so this issue gets to play with character dynamics in a fun way while reintroducing our major players for anyone not keeping up with the ongoings. Even readers unfamiliar with some of this cast will find it pretty easy to jump right in, and that’s the sign of a solid opening to a crossover.

Credit: Mahmud A. Asrar/Nolan Woodard/Joe Caramagna (Marvel Comics)

Character work is Pak’s biggest strength and he really gets to stretch those muscles here. We get to see the dynamics of Logan’s team complete with a little exploration of just how their powers work in tandem with one another. And Pak gives us some justification for bringing Cho in. As one of the characters notes, he’s not a killer like the rest of them, and Logan wryly asks if any of them are super geniuses, and that says just about everything you need to know. These are characters that Pak knows well and while that does end up overshadowing just how big of a threat the new Weapon X program is, it’s still good fun - something that feels really missing in Marvel comic books these days. The only big knock against the book is that even with an increased page count, it’s paced pretty slowly and is lacking in any really big action sequences. (There’s one, but it’s decidedly not what you’re expecting out of this book.)

Credit: Mahmud A. Asrar/Nolan Woodard/Joe Caramagna (Marvel Comics)

Mahmud Asrar turns in some effective work that allows him to help underline the tone that Pak is going for. It’s Asrar’s expression work that really shines through in this issue. He tends to keep his panels fairly varied, but always uses close-ups to reinforce the idea that there’s some important information being communicated. That really helps the clarity of the narrative because it does bounce around between a few different groups of characters. But using close-ups almost like pull quotes, Asrar is able to force the reader to pay attention to certain parts of the story over others. Now his action sequences do tend to look a little bit same-y, but they don’t take up enough of the book to really affect the readability of the story. Asrar’s linework in conjunction with Nolan Woodard’s textured coloring makes the book feel a lot like Daniel Acuna’s work on Uncanny Avengers. The flatter palette lets Woodard play with light in more natural ways, allowing for denser washes of color across different scenes that lend almost film noir like atmosphere to the book.

Overall, Weapons of Mutant Destruction is a solid opening for this crossover. The premise is simple. The stakes are high. The pacing is a little bit slow, but that allows for some really good character work. Asrar and Woodard are a really in sync art team that is delivering a story that doesn’t quite play to the conventions of the genre. Pak’s script is full of humor, but Asrar and Woodard are exploring the overall tone and rendering it much darker than one might expect. The result is a book that might just catch you by surprise and a crossover that might end up being much more than just the sum of its parts.

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