Despite Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz’s X-Men starting off on shaky ground, the series seems to have finally found its footing with a slew of stronger issues in recent weeks. X-Men #11 is one of those strong issues, featuring some forward momentum in the plot and what is arguably Duggan’s best work writing the whole team roster.
Gameworld itself is a pretty run ride since it’s an interesting set piece for a story with striking visuals. Larraz doesn’t disappoint with his art, making the scenery very visually striking in these pages. The Gameworld setting easily makes this issue one of the most visually unique ones in the series thus far.
Duggan has struggled to effectively juggle the characters in this X-Men line up, but in this issue, each character actually does get their own moment to shine. Synch, Cyclops, and Jean Grey get the best action sequences by far. Though it’s nice to see Lorna included in this issue and actually having speaking lines, she’s hardly in it and doesn’t feel completely necessary. One thing X-Men has failed to do is use Polaris in any meaningful way, which is sad considering she’s the only character here readers actually voted for to be on the book.
Jean Grey can be a tricky character to write. Some writers deify her by making her this saint who can do nothing wrong — in reality, Jean Grey is a powerhouse with a temper who can be a bit of a bully sometimes. This issue has one of, if not Jean’s best moment in Duggan’s run so far, pushing others around and showing them who’s boss.
Her speech is pretty excellent too — and hey, it sounds like she’s not calling herself Marvel Girl anymore, so that’s a huge win in my book. That ugly dress and that stupid codename both retired for a more mature look? Christmas must have come early for me!
Synch and Cyclops’s foray into the sewers as they track down Dr. Stasis gives both characters their own opportunity to shine. Synch being a badass like he is has been one of the best parts of the Krakoa era thus far, powering the character to new heights. Cyclops gets his own moment in the sun as well, and the Dr. Stasis reveal is definitely something that feels like it will have larger implications in the franchise overall at the moment.
That last bit is probably the most exciting part of X-Men #11, as the series has tended to fall a bit flat at times on making itself feel like it’s a must-read book or one that really matters. X-Men #11, on the other hand, is a reminder to readers not to count this series out just yet.
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