After the conclusion of the Inhumans Vs. X-Men crossover, Marvel decided to get back to basics with their X-Men titles and released a bunch of new series designed to appeal to longtime fans. One such title was Weapon X whose first trade we take a look at today. Is it good?
Here’s the description for this volume:
Decades ago, the Weapon X Program produced the deadliest mutant killers on the planet. Now, with more research, more funding and more Adamantium at its disposal, the all-new Weapon X Program isn't just experimenting on mutants anymore…it's eradicating them – all of them -using killer cyborgs that can hide in plain sight. Now it's up to the uneasiest of all alliances -between Old Man Logan and his once bitter enemy Sabretooth – to hunt down the revived Weapon X program and stomp it out before it gets any stronger. They'll need a whole lot of luck and maybe that's where Domino comes in? But what could make Weapon X and its mysterious new director turn their sights on the Totally Awesome Hulk? The Weapons of Mutant Destruction are coming – and there will be blood!”
Now, I approached Weapon X from the perspective of a newcomer; after reading the first volume however, I can say this is more a book aimed at longtime fans. It’s not new reader friendly at all and assumes you already know all the backstory to the
characters and their history with the villains. Weapon X Vol. 1 doesn’t get into much detail about the cast, outside of Domino and Warpath (who, unfortunately, is barely in the book), and the big, final reveal is something that only fans of X-Men are going to really get or be surprised by. As such, if you want to jump into the current X-Men comics, this is not the book to do it with.
Story-wise, Weapon X is operational again (or at least, a bunch of people are up to something sinister), capturing individuals with incredible abilities and in turn using these powers for their mutant-murdering death machines. This brings in Old Man Logan (who I feel doesn’t fit this story arc as well as regular Wolverine would have), Sabretooth, Domino, and even the current Hulk, Cho, in on the chaos — and it’s a fun mashup of differing personalities. Unfortunately, the story stops just as it is about to really heat up. The real villain has been revealed to the audience, we know what the stakes are, and the team has fully come together… but then the book completely ends right there; it feels kind of like a tease and frankly, I wouldn’t recommend buying this until the second volume drops to avoid such an abrupt ending.
On a character-level, Weapon X Vol. 1 feels a bit hollow. Again, this is a comic for longtime fans who know these characters in and out, how they act, what they are like, and such. These fans need no introduction to everyone, already knowing what to expect. Though from the perspective of someone new here, it felt kind of empty. You don’t really get to know anyone that well regarding backgrounds, personalities, and alliances, so moments that should be big, touching, or funny don’t have much impact. I personally don’t know that much about Lady Deathstrike or Sabretooth and after the book, outside of the understanding that they’re villains, I still don’t know that much about them (Deathstrike almost literally does nothing in the plot). Back to Amadeus Cho as the Hulk: we get a glimpse at his personality and morality more than the others, but he really comes across as annoying, grating, and super full of himself without any charm or charisma to make up for it. There’s also some of the superfluous villains, but there’s not much development to them and any attempts at humanizing them falls flat since they’re not present enough and most of them are out by the end of the arc. Again, this may not be a problem for older fans, but newcomers won’t leave with much of a strong connection to anyone here.
When it comes to Greg Pak’s writing, he’s hitting the gas pedal as hard as he can in this one. This is a story constantly in motion, with little to no downtime at all. Characters are constantly moving, fighting enemies, picking up allies, and the story switches back and forth rapidly between the heroes and the villains. In that regard, the pacing and story focus keeps each issue exciting and energetic. The downside to the pace is there’s often no time for any characterization or moments of reflection, which ultimately leads to some serious or personal scenes lacking impact since we either rush through them or they weren’t built up that well. The dialogue is snappy at least and if you like quips and quick exposition that doesn’t drag on too long, then you’re sure to be fine with the approach the writer is taking here.
Finally, we come to the artwork, most of it being provided by Greg Land; it’s stuck halfway between being okay and subpar. Land’s characters in still shots look pretty decent and you easily tell who everyone is by looking at them. However, in motion and when conveying certain emotion in their faces, the art falters due to how stiff, badly posed, and awkward they look. Plus, there’s poor anatomy in some action scenes and quite a bit of reused, copy & paste facial expressions that I even saw used all the way back in Ultimate
Power. The comic can be frustrating to follow with how busy it gets and how awkward the cuts between panels and scenes are at times, hurting the action quite a bit and making the book almost visual noise, especially during the final issue. The artwork for the Totally Awesome Hulk issue provided by Robert Gill is a much-needed breath of fresh air, with better drawn characters, action, and layouts. I really hope this title switches artists or Land gets better, because this artwork is a hindrance, even to older fans.
Is It Good?
Weapon X Vol. 1: Weapons of Mutant Destruction Prelude ultimately lives up to the prelude in the subtitle, the trade collection only acting as a way to set up the crossover event that is to come next time. For longtime fans of the franchise, you’re certain to enjoy yourself here with your favorite characters, but for newcomers or people with a passing knowledge of the cast, there’s not a whole lot to either get invested in or sink your teeth in at the moment. Combined with an artist who has trouble drawing action at times, I can’t really recommend this trade until the next one comes out.