Giant-Size X-Men has been a gorgeous one-shot series giving artists more control over story than what is typically seen in comics. Jonathan Hickman has written each issue, but as we know from interviews and press releases, this series is all about the artist truly shining. Russell Dauterman is back in the driver’s seat this week after opening the series (and blowing us all away), and this time Storm is the focus of attention. Storm has been infected with a techno-virus and time is running out.
This issue checks all the boxes for what an X-Men fan wants in their story, including: surprise mutants showing up, interesting dynamics between characters, science fiction concepts come to life, story seeds planted to file away for later, and triumphant moments for heroes like Storm to shine. This book is a lot more conventional than the first Giant-Size, and that’s not just because there’s dialogue this go-around. There’s a plot to follow and a story that builds off what came before in the series, too. By the end it’s a deeply satisfying experience thanks to all those boxes being checked, but also because it leads somewhere to offer something new to look forward to in the future.
Once again, this series shows how good the featured artist can be. Dauterman and color artist Matthew Wilson are doing showstopping work. There is a wholesome and rounded feel to each panel and page. Dauterman is clearly interested in symmetry and an appealing art style you can’t look away from because it feels just right. Layout design continues to be pushed in new directions, like the “X” that is formed by the gutters in the images below, further enhancing the reading experience. Gutters are also filled with the techno-virus as if the book itself is infected as Storm is creating another layer of symmetry. The colors help convey the wild places these characters go as well as depth using shadow and light. We’ve seen it on Thor before this, but Dauterman and Wilson only seem to get better as they continue their illustrious careers.
The art is also quite good at making characters stand out, which I think is one of the main draws to this style. Environments are never overly done, but details in characters’ faces and costumes are always given an extra ounce of detail. This further pulls them from the backgrounds and makes them stand out. This is a character series after all and that lends itself to the themes of the series.
Giant-Size X-Men: Storm has it all, from action to crazy science fiction concepts we’ve come to adore from Hickman, to deeply meaningful character beats. In the opening alone, we get to see Emma and Jean spar a bit, reminding us they aren’t the best of friends and have a history. Above all else, Giant-Size X-Men has been a series about layering visuals in an emphatic way, but the story and character writing has been excellent too. In what can appear to be a simple scene or simple visual, there is so much more behind it, be it the history or the subtext. Giant-Size X-Men is a delight of the mind, the eye, and the imagination.