Devil’s Reign: X-Men is fine. That’s kind of it. It’s an entertaining-enough comic about Elektra and Emma pulling one over on Kingpin—doing so twice even—and Noto does some of his most okayest work along the way. It’s not bad, it’s not great, it’s about as good as an average issue of the main X-Men title, though certainly missing Pepe Larraz. It’s fine.
Part of the fine-ness is due to the takes on Emma and Elektra here. I know there’s been decades of character development for both, and that there’s more depth to them than ever, but also I kind of like them better when they’re less good?
Emma just being a complete scumbag, and Elektra just going around merking people is excellent, and something we just don’t get at Marvel much, especially from more heroic characters. As it stands, both Emma and Elektra have had most of their edges smoothed out, seemingly to appeal to an audience that is less and less interested in moral complexity. The way this book presented both these women’s pasts was kind of a breath of fresh air, or maybe a welcomed breath of rotten air.
Still, it isn’t really bad in all. Emma’s development is sound, and I like that she still has some awful qualities, such as being rich. It just feels like the only way this team could tell an interesting story about her was to compare where she’s been to where she’s now, and it kinda just made me want the old Emma.
Where the X-Men story here was fine, the Winter Soldier one was far, far below anything I would call fine. Well, besides the art, which features one of my favorite Kingpins I’ve ever seen.
This comic is just nonsense. Bucky is hunting for a file that Kingpin has on him that reveals something about his past. That’s already a boring setup for a Winter Soldier comic! We’ve already done this! He was Captain America! Why are we still trudging through guilt-ridden Bucky?
There are points in the issue that feel like solid thoughts, like bringing up Steve’s using the cosmic cube to fix all his problems. Unfortunately, the comic squanders that good comparison by overly focusing on a sleepwalking parallel and Becky’s aforementioned (completely pointless) guilt.
Even if that weren’t an absolute bottom-of-the-barrel concept, it’s also excruciatingly dull in its writing. Boring, nonsense prose that tries far too hard to build tone and flavor, instead just reads as plodding. The desired effect was probably “fever dream” but with lines like “I finally need to look my past in the eye,” it’s impossible to give the benefit of the doubt.
The one saving grace is artist Nico Leon, who I cannot be a bigger fan of. I wish he had better words over his art, or really, none at all, as that would have been a massive improvement.
It’s bizarre that I’m enjoying “The Hivemind’s” ‘Captain America’ run, and now I feel like the, writing Bucky is more of a threat than anything else.
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