Giant Size X-Statix #1
Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Michael Allred and Laura Allred
Lettering by Nate Piekos
Published by Marvel Comics
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
After nearly 15 years since their last series, Giant Sized X-Statix is a reunion special — half-VH1 Behind The Music type story, half-straightforward reboot that also embraces the unconventional. Because after their lengthy hiatus, the mutant media darlings known as the X-Statix are set not only to reunite, but to bring some new teammates along for the ride — teammates with ties to past members, who have angst and family drama to spare.
Writer Peter Milligan’s narration is well-written, making for a great framing device that hits us with heart up front and gives way to a fine-tuned balance of action, laughs, and idiosyncratic odd-ball moments. As Milligan reintroduces readers to his quirky team of X-celebrities, the metatextual aspects of the story and the continued commentary on media and public perception are still strengths of this book — even if they aren’t handled with watertight consistency. While the character moments with Katie Jones, U-Go Girl’s next of kin, the overall story of Katie rejecting her heritage can’t help but feel a little forced.
Additionally, given X-Statix’s subversive streak during its heyday in the early 2000s, some of the humor and ideas aren’t as cutting-edge as you might remember a decade and a half later, lacking that feeling of pushing the envelope and flipping the bird to any line in the sand. It may be a sign of the times, but there also feels like there’s some missed noticeable missed opportunities. Given that we live in the era of YouTube and Instagram, it can’t help but feel like the once forward-thinking X-Statix are suddenly acting like yesterday’s news.
That said, Mike Allred’s art improves with every project without ever losing its signature trimmings. While he’s often received critical acclaim for his distinct style, his sensibilities as a visual storyteller also deserve praise. His ability to play with cartoony conventions by infusing a realistic quality in them is a very rare thing. Even the ghostly U-Go Girl appears do have more life and dimension than the rest of the cast, reinforcing her central focus under the narration.
Laura Allred’s color work is equal parts pop explosion and well thought out rendering. The Allreds are a great team and their years of working together show with how in sync color and art are. But Laura has developed her talent further recently on Catwoman and brings a more robust skill set to the table than her earlier coloring efforts.
Like a lot of the creators’ work in this vein, don’t expect dense storytelling. This issue leaps quickly and abruptly from moment to moment, and time passes quickly between panels. But do expect fun and weirdness by the fistfuls. The way characters play off each other as friends and foes is a mix of self-aware attitude and sharp display of dialogue prowess by Milligan. It’s the character work that makes this book land so well. The bombastic energy that gives this book its spirit also ensures you’ll see fight scenes, emotional moments, and exposition all delivered in ways much different to how you’d get them in other straight-up superhero comic books. While there are a few missed opportunities that are a little bit of a letdown, very little else about Giant-Sized X-Statix is. This is a strong comeback for older readers and an attractive and entertaining prospect for new readers. If you like your reads smart and loaded with manic energy, then you’ll have a great time with this.