The Trials of X collections are nearing their end, with many of the issues collected in these pages being the final arcs in their respective titles. While containing a few missteps, the bulk of these comics are very good and capture the compelling narratives each creative team was producing at this moment of time in the X-line.
This edition collects X-Corp #5, Marauders #24-25, X-Force #23-24, and Excalibur #24. Of note is the fact that the two best books in this collection (Marauders and X-Force) are each given two issues, which does wonders for this compilation. It allows readers to better immerse themselves in the longer narrative, while also still getting a variety of creative talent within a single book. I’d like to see these collections follow a similar principle in successive editions.
X-Corp, the book about Krakoan dealing with the business world, is the final issue in this series. I’ve mentioned it before, but this book had a great deal of promise when it was announced, only to flounder under unclear execution. This issue clearly rushes to the finish line, with Noblesse Pharmaceuticals attempting to take over X-Corp, failing, and our characters getting a few pages to celebrate and wrap up tale. Alberto Foche is a fine comic artist, but his work doesn’t gel with the story and dialogue from Tini Howard. It looks and reads like a title that wasn’t sure if this was a satire on business culture or a superhero book.
Marauders #24-25 are the strongest in this collection, as Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto deliver a finely-tuned space adventure that feels like the X-Men thrown into a Star Wars story. Throwing the cast into space, Eden Rixlo of the Novacorps attempts to retake the Mercury, a ship that Emma Frost acquired by less than scrupulous means. For a story that focuses predominately on the characters drinking and verbally sparing, it’s visually energetic with effective tension built into the character actions and movements. To be honest, these issues make me miss what the Marauders book was at the tail end of this era.
X-Force #23-24, written by Benjamin Percy with art by Martin Coccolo, focuses on Colossus’s evil brother Mikhail Rasputin as he works to uncover Krakoa’s secrets and unravel the mutant society for his own ends. There is a lot of plotting, and plenty of revelations about Beast in these issues, which are competently complemented by Coccolo’s explicit work. With Cassara being the other artist identified with this current iteration of X-Force, Percy clearly has a preference for a grotesque art style to compliment his ongoing narrative in this title. It’s a fine two issues, though they may be dense for those who have not invested fully in this ongoing series.
Lastly, we get a random issue of Excalibur by Tini Howard, and it’s a fine issue of the title. This one is so deep in its lore, it’s almost incomprehensible as a standalone issue, with lots of Ottherworld and British Fantasy worldbuilding thrown together. Like always, Marcus To elevates this story and gives the dozens of characters energy and splash-worthy panels to flatter the dialogue.
Sadly, all the variant covers reprinted at the tail end of the book are quarter-page copies, which is a shame. These books are best as a sampling of the talent working in the X-office, and it’s unfortunate that the cover artists don’t get the limelight they deserve. Perhaps each titles individual collection will include those indispensable additions.
Overall, Trials of X Vol. 6 is another fine collection of X-titles from last year, especially the Marauders and X-Force issues. Even if you are not a completist with each of these trades on your shelf, this edition is a worthwhile read X-Men fans will enjoy.
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