Of all the releases following House of X/Powers of X, Tini Howard’s X-Corp was the book I really wanted to love. Sadly, having read all five issues of the run collected in this trade, I find it was a title with an interesting premise that simply never delivered. That isn’t to say there are not things to enjoy in X-Corp, but the short-lived series will likely be seen as an odd footnote in the Reign of X era of the X-Men, adding modest window-dressing to the stimulating Krakoan backdrop in the mainline books.
X-Corp focuses on the efforts of Monet and Warren Worthington to turn Krakoa’s unprecedented resources into financial leverage on the world stage. When I first viewed previews for the book, I was charmed, and hoped that the book would be an indispensable bit of world building. I’ve been fascinated by the way political economy and statecraft could be explored in this era of the X-Men, and seeing a whole series focus on the role mutant-owned businesses would play in the larger Marvel Universe was right up my alley. I couldn’t help but ruminate on the questions X-Corp might address. If mutants are planning to run their affairs differently to humans, what would their business culture be like? If Krakoa produces everything its people need, how might that impact a business working on the island? Throw in the minimalist, pop art-inspired covers from David Aja, and X-Corp was a book I awaited with anticipation.
Unfortunately, this title never quite found its purpose. I applaud Tini Howard’s willingness to tackle some of these larger social/economic issues, but X-Corp never seemed to figure out what kind of comic it was intended to be. Often, the book was paced like any other superhero title with some business jargon laced over the dialogue. Monet and Warren are perfectly applicable characters for a book with this premise, but neither ever demonstrated any management leadership or reflection on their business abilities. The stakes for X-Corp remain unclear throughout the course of the book; as Krakoa seems to be distrusted by many nations, it would have been interesting to see how X-Corp might brand its product and place in the marketplace. Unfortunately, the five issues collected here simply don’t do much to elucidate this concept.
The artwork also feels like missed opportunity for this title. X-Corp needed to be a different type of comic that explored different themes with its own stylistic flair. A title of this nature should have been given a palpable panache, like Peter Milligan and Mike Allred’s X-Statix book from a few years back (which, ironically, is getting a relaunch in 2022). Albert Foche is a perfectly competent artist, but his line-work is too conventional to make this book stand out as something different from other superhero titles in the X-line. The best issue in this trade, in both art and scripting, is issue #3, which focuses on Jamie Madrox trying to find work/life balance with his specific mutant gift. It’s penciled by Valentine De Landro and makes me wish his skills would have been used in the other issues. Issue #3 does offer the promise of a very good book that Howard may have been creating the foundation to explore, but the main plot in the remainder of the book is simply not that interesting. If X-Corp had simply decided to be something other than a superhero book, it may have been able to find something interesting say about business culture in the age of Krakoa.
We are treated to multiple covers in the back of the title, with the aforementioned Aja pieces appreciatively getting the full page treatment. Many of the variant covers are only reprinted in quarter page allotments. The overall design of the book is good, with the compulsory data pages integrated well into the larger narrative direction.
It’s possible that we may see a return to the X-Corp premise in the years to come; there is a great need to explore the various aspects of culture in mutant kind, and this title may be a fine place to explore those notions. Yet, as for the five issues collected here, X-Corp will likely be but an odd footnote in this era of the X-Men, intended only for completists.
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